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Open Mainframe Project Helps Fill the Need for COBOL Resources

Reprinted from the Open Mainframe Project Blog

More than 10 million people in the United States have filed for unemployment amid the COVID-19 global pandemic and financial crisis. As these numbers continue to grow, a big technology skills gap is starting to emerge as well.

For example, earlier this week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy put out a call for volunteers who have COBOL skills because – like most states – New Jersey depends on mainframes to control and manage data. Many states are following with the same call for volunteers. Mainframes are seen as antiquated by today’s standards but in reality, they are the driving force behind modernization including being part of the modern hybrid cloud model.

There are estimates that 220 billion lines of COBOL is still in use today. This code is reliable, proven and the foundation of most mission critical banking and financial services applications at the world’s biggest banks which is why it has remained core to these systems. The challenge many cities and states are facing now is changing their COBOL code fast enough to respond to the increased unemployment payment eligibility in a very short timeframe.

Open Mainframe Project, is an open source initiative that enables collaboration across the mainframe community to develop shared tool sets and resources. We quickly mobilized across our membership including Broadcom, IBM, Phoenix Software, Rocket Software, SUSE, Vicom Infinity and Zoss Team, for three new resources in response to this urgent need from our public sector officials:

  • Calling all COBOL Programmers Forum – an Open Mainframe Project forum where developers and programmers who would like to volunteer or are available for hire can post their profiles. Whether they are actively looking for employment, retired skilled veterans, students who have successfully completed COBOL courses, or professionals wanting to volunteer, they can specify their level of expertise and availability to assist. Employers can then connect with these resources as needed. The forum can be found here:
  • COBOL Technical Forum – a new forum specific to COBOL technical questions which will be monitored by experienced COBOL programmers. This will allow all levels of programmers to quickly learn new techniques and draw from a broad range of experience and expertise to address common questions and challenges arising during this unprecedented time. The technical questions can be asked in this forum:
  • Open Source COBOL Training – Open Source COBOL Training – the Open Mainframe Project Technical Advisory Council has approved hosting a new open source project that will lead collaboration for training materials on COBOL. The courseware was contributed by IBM based on its work with clients and institutes of higher education. These materials will be provided under an open source license and available in the coming days on the Open Mainframe Project GitHub organization.

Phoenix Software and other Open Mainframe Project members are also ready to help with their own COBOL resources:

“Modern mainframes represent the most powerful and sophisticated business-oriented computers ever devised and there are orders of magnitude more lines of COBOL code in business applications than any other programming language. Modern COBOL is fast and powerful, supports 64-bit applications, easily interfaces with technologies like XML, JSON, web services and the like, and can be developed using “agile” methodologies. The mainframe provides investment protection unrivaled by other platforms by allowing older applications to continue running unchanged next to modern ones. This is a strength, not a weakness. Phoenix Software International prides itself in focusing on mainframe modernization and supports and applauds any efforts towards that end. In addition to technical strength, the mainframe is surrounded by a passionate community of technology professionals like no other. We are proud to be part of that community, which includes the Open Mainframe Project/Linux Foundation, and that technology, and support all of these initiatives whole-heartedly and with whatever assistance we can offer.” – Ed Jaffe, Chief Technology Officer at Phoenix Software International

Read the entire article on the Open Mainframe Project Website

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Phoenix Software International, Inc., is a systems software development company providing advanced software applications to enterprises around the globe. The company offers a wide range of solutions to modern business challenges.

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