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Teaching in legacy tech: a Fresche mission

COBOLProgrammerNotebookCOBOL is a technology essential to success with HP 3000s. While there are a handful of servers working with other languages under MPE/iX, it's safe to say nothing runs on a 3000 other than Powerhouse and smattering of Speedware 4GL and Transact, once you get away from COBOL. Fresche Legacy is taking steps to ensure the staying power of COBOL. The company which transformed itself from Speedware this year is now educating the world about COBOL.

Fresche Legacy has been working with the IBM AS/400 customer base to extend its business with legacy computing users. Using the IBM Series i servers in its datacenter, Fresche is providing the students and staff of Champlain Regional College with hands-on instruction in legacy technology.

"To a certain extent," said the company's CEO Andy Kulakowski, "Fresche thinks of itself as the retirement home for COBOL and RPG. Our ultimate goal is to help customers modernize, but that can take time."

Here's a surprise to the graduating workers in IT. "We also need graduates with the skills to help our customers with their current legacy technology," Kulakowski said. "And students with legacy IT skills can often count on higher salaries and more opportunities when they graduate." COBOL skills, as it turns out, are much more rare than Java or .NET training.

Fresche's Maria Anzini, the VP of HR and Support at the company, notes that Champlain students will have a distinct advantage when they enter the workforce. "They will find that older technology is still very much present and needs to work tightly with more modern technology," she said. 

It’s all about training people so that they are fully knowledgeable about the legacy technology that they are certain to encounter in the real world. With Champlain College, we are investing in today’s youth to safeguard and extend the lifecycle of our customers’ applications as well as ensure that those applications can ultimately be transformed to reduce costs and improve business performance.

The company sees part of its modernization mission as bridging the gap between legacy tech like COBOL and the more prevalent languages. Fresche wants to support MPE/iX sites which need contract help to administer and maintain COBOL-based 3000 applications, too.

"We manage and support the HP 3000 as much, if not more, than modernize these days," said the company's VP of Sales and Marketing Jennifer Fisher, adding that these engagements can combine legacy support as well as modernizations. Fresche notes that legacy technology is still used to run most mission-critical systems in business, government and educational institutions.

The Saint-Lambert campus, on Montreal's south shore, offers pre-university and full career programs in a wide variety of disciplines, including Computer Science and Mathematics. Champlain is offering a fully accredited legacy management course to students. "Program instructor Robert Bierman recognizes the business challenges that companies face," Fresche said in a release, "and encourages and fosters programs where graduates will be best positioned for employment because of the added knowledge they bring."