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The interoperability of COBOL and Java can extend the value of your mission-critical IMS apps.


If you have your finger on the pulse of IT, you can’t help but notice the rising visibility of COBOL and its implications in the coronavirus pandemic. If you’ve been in IT long enough and understand the implications of the word “legacy,” you have firsthand knowledge as to why many banks, governments, and global companies continue to rely on their COBOL application programs. The evidence of their durability and resilience is now front page news, and the call for COBOL skills has become an imperative.

COBOL is about 10 years older than IBM Information Management System (IMS), a hierarchical database and transaction management system that, likewise, has been doing yeoman’s work for over 50 years, including processing lots and lots of COBOL application programs. As IT has evolved, IBM IMS has made strides to ensure that users can continue to rely on their COBOL investments. Many enhancements and capabilities have been introduced over the years to keep the COBOL and IMS partnership thriving.

The primary capability is COBOL and Java interoperability. A great example of this solution comes from Fiducia & GAD IT AG, which introduced Java alongside COBOL in IBM IMS, enabling them to create new services and extend the life and value of their applications.

When our IMS experts partner with clients to learn about the blockers they encounter in their digital transformation, they frequently hear a common refrain about legacy applications (including COBOL) that run on IBM Z: Maintaining these apps, or extending them into APIs and services, requires that new programmers build deep IBM Z-specific skills. This is a misconception. This video demonstrates that you don’t need a Ph.D in IBM Z to develop and deploy IMS apps.

For those of you who prefer a deeper dive, technically speaking, check out this presentation which describes standard access to IMS data from COBOL using SQL. You might also be interested in A COBOL Programmer’s Practicum, which shows how to code IMS MPP programs to process IMS transactions.

If any of these have piqued your interest about modernizing your IMS applications, whether they are COBOL or not, consider an IMS Makerspace engagement, where our IMS experts partner with you to get you started on your own digital transformation journey.