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September 29, 2009

Deciding Between COBOLs for Migration

[Editor's Note: Conversion and migration supplier Unicon Conversion Technologies sent us a white paper recently that outlines decisions to enable 3000 conversions to Windows. Unicon's Mike Howard attended the latest e3000 Community Meet, where I heard plenty of COBOL discussion. Here's Howard's take on COBOL choices if you're headed to Windows.]

By Mike Howard

When HP announced it was discontinuing the HP 3000, there were four main Windows COBOLs: RM COBOL, ACUCOBOL, Micro Focus COBOL and Fujitsu COBOL.

But in May 2007, Micro Focus acquired ACUCOBOL when they bought Acucorp. Shortly after they also acquired RM COBOL when they bought Liant. ACUCOBOL is very similar to RM COBOL but has more features and functions. Micro Focus immediately incorporated the RM COBOL product into ACUCOBOL and stopped selling RM COBOL. Micro Focus is now incorporating ACUCOBOL into the Micro Focus COBOL product.

So today, for new Windows COBOL customers there are two COBOLs -- Micro Focus and Fujitsu. In summary, Micro Focus is an all-embracing, all-platform COBOL with excellent support, but it is expensive. Fujitsu is a Windows product with limited support but an extremely attractive price. We have found that both products are very stable and very fast in production. Both charge the same for support, 20 percent per year. The differences lie in cost of ownership vs. response time of support.

Micro Focus COBOL: This is the big COBOL player on the block. It has compilers for Windows, Unix and Linux, and has excellent support across all these platforms. It has good documentation and it also has excellent award winning customer support department that provides training courses and ongoing product support. The Windows product is fully integrated into Windows .NET (MISL code) and the Visual Studio IDE. The compiler, runtime and debugger are excellent products as is the support of relational databases.

A new customer buys both development licenses and runtime licenses. Each programmer needs a developers license and each application server needs a runtime license. In very rough figures a developer license is $5,000 per developer and a runtime license is about $20,000 per CPU per server. So five developers would be $25,000 and a 4 CPU dual core server would count at 8 CPU’s for a runtime license cost of $160,000.00; for total cost of $185,000.
Fujitsu COBOL: This is a very good COBOL which is fully supported by the Fujitsu Corporation in Japan but sold and supported outside Japan by a small company (maybe 10 employees) in Bend, Oregon called Alchemy Solutions.  Alchemy Solutions rose from the old Fujitsu COBOL Software department – I think Fujitsu decided to close it and the department management created Alchemy Solutions with all the staff of the old department.  Although Fujitsu has compilers for Unix (but not IBM’s AIX), this is really a Windows-based COBOL. Customer support is essentially limited to an online question submittal process; which may not sound very supportive, but the guys who provide the service do an excellent job. Support requests are normally answered within 24 hours.

It is an excellent Windows .NET Visual Studio product and highly integrated into the .NET framework. The compiler, runtime and debugger are excellent products as is the support of relational databases. Each programmer needs a developers license, but there are no runtime charges. Developer licenses at about $5,000 per developer. So a customer with five developers would cost $25,000 for the developer licenses — but remember, there is no runtime charge of any kind.

05:06 PM in Migration | Permalink

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Wish I'd have thought to ask Micro Focus if the AcuCOBOL Mac OS X support would continue. ;-)

Posted by: Bruce Hobbs | Sep 30, 2009 3:12:23 AM

I believe there are a few more options available to HP COBOL users, other than the ones listed in this article.

1-Open COBOL, Open Source based COBOL compiler. Translates COBOL into C, before it is compiled using a native C compiler. Code can be maintained in COBOL. (http://www.opencobol.org/)

2-isCOBOL, a product from Veryant which compiles COBOL into Java. Code can be maintained in COBOL. (http://www.veryant.com/)

3-COBOL IT, an open source COBOL compiler, said to have a number of support and services options (http://www.cobol-it.com/)

Note: Speedware's AMXW, a COBOL migration tool, currently offers support for Open COBOL.

Posted by: Nick Fortin | Oct 5, 2009 8:31:11 AM

LegacyJ (which was Synkronix many years ago...) has had HP compatible COBOL and Cobol II solutions -- among 16 others -- for years.

12 years ago we solved the Cobol transition problem by providing a cross-compiler / translator to allow rehosting without re-engineering, moving your applications over to the Java Virtual Machine environment. If you're on a mainframe, you'll save 90% of your HW/SW budget: if on an HP3000, you can modernize more rapidly than other approach.

Our high-speed Cobol compiler is written in C and generates an intermediate Cobol/Java code that can be maintained in Cobol or Java, works in any JVM-compatible environment, and is primarily used in Windows and Linux server situations.

We generate Java bytecode, which operates with a runtime module to facilitate the operation on the more modern, affordable platforms that lend themselves to further modernization steps.

Veryant's approach is much like ours, having been copied [without permission] from our original, patented technology -- though they decided to write their compiler in Java, trading speed for some notion of portability.

If you would like a bridge between your current Cobol environment and cost-effective platforms, full HP COBOL support, continued Cobol maintainability while you move to Java or another new set of tools, and would like to experience the fastest Factory Translation in the industry,
please contact me.

Daniel Myers, CEO, LegacyJ
[email protected]

Posted by: cdmyerslj | Oct 16, 2009 7:47:18 PM

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