HP 3000 managers have ample experience with COBOL. The language built the business world, but newer-tech owners tend to hoot at the venerable tool. COBOL experts found themselves in high demand during another crisis point. Y2K may represent the high water mark for COBOL hiring.
In the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, COBOL is proving once again it is an essential IT tool.
COBOL's roots hail from the 1960s. It has been a crucial part of legacy computing ever since MPE servers took their roles in enterprises. Now we learn that COBOL is at the heart of business systems at the IRS. You know, the organization that's trying to send up to $1,200 to every adult in the US right now.
In the middle of a pandemic, where the emergency funds are flowing to checking accounts, COBOL is the conduit. Some databases at the Internal Revenue Service hail from 1962. Nobody could anticipate that the COBOL that runs those databases would need modifications. Addresses of taxpayers are now different. Some bank accounts, like the temporary ones from H&R Block tax services, kicked back 300,000 of those IRS deposits.
COBOL is being called an ancient language. As it turns out, the expertise is still available. The state of New Jersey is running employment ads that ask for COBOL experts. Many are retired, but like doctors around the world, some are returning to duty.
In the MPE community, one significant customer is still using COBOL. At Boeing Corp., 17 COBOL programs serve on a virtual HP 3000. The air travel industry is under siege, but aircraft are still being sold and built.
COBOL college training is in short supply, to the point of being a mystery to find. Out on the Udemy training website, however, a $59 course promises students can "become an expert on COBOL programs by coding." The training says the course teaches how to "run COBOL programs with JCL."
Job Control Language is essential to lots of legacy computing. It also seems to be essential to getting up to speed using the Udemy course. "You should know at least the basics of TSO/ISPF and JCL," the description says. "I have provided a few basic TSO/ISPF commands and some amount of JCL as well. If you are not comfortable, you can take my courses on TSO/ISPF and JCL first before taking this course."
In the world's time of greatest need, so are servers like those using PA-RISC, and mainframes. When trouble arrives, the proven tools take a leading role. It's survival IT. Legacy owners should be proud of doing their bit, as the British say about wartime.