COBOL Code Assessment:
Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

So you’ve got an accurate technical inventory. All systems are go, right?  Not quite. Although your COBOL code assessment has provided you with a bunch of data about your legacy system, it is important to use that data to effectively understand the complexity of the COBOL relationships within. Harnessing this information provides a great deal of functional visibility and identifies scenarios that, if not dealt with early, could wreak havoc on your modernization initiative.

Reduce the Scope of COBOL Codecobol code assessment

Trimming unused and dead code from the application inventory can have an enormously positive effect on a modernization effort. In a survey of 21 Modern Systems customers, we found that an average scope reduction of 40% was achieved after flagging, investigating, and removing dead and unused code during a comprehensive COBOL code assessment. Many of these customers, such as GE Capital realized a far greater scope reduction than originally anticipated. Out of 71 million lines of code collected in the initial technical inventory, the assessment found that only 16 million were being used by the business. As a result, they were able to reduce the scope of their project by 78%!

Take Outliers Seriously

In a perfect world, the COBOL code assessment would reveal a simplistic, pure environment ready to be modernized in a snap. Unfortunately, mainframes housing half-a-century’s worth of application development are about as far from a perfect world environment as you can get. Most of these old systems house dozens of different languages such as Natural, PL/I, and ADS Online among others. They also tend to provide residence for languages and dialects that haven’t seen the light of day since Atari’s mass burial at Alamogordo in 1983. While these outliers tend to occupy a relatively small section of the technical inventory, it is important to flag them for concentration and to collaborate with the business to understand their importance to the operation of the system at large before solidifying your modernization strategy and timeline.

Identify and Mitigate Potential Problem Scenarios

There are countless pitfalls in the game of mainframe modernization. Luckily, a thorough COBOL code assessment can give you the ability to dodge most, if not all of them.  Here some of the most common scenarios to look out for that have the potential to wreak havoc on your modernization effort:

  • Use of third party tools in applications and their downstream effects
  • Duplicate copies of the same components in different locations
  • Early COBOL release levels
  • Out-of-sync situations between source code and executables
  • Unexpected databases used in applications
  • Unexpected languages called within applications
  • Use of cross-platform tools such as MQ Series and EntireX
  • Binary data usage
  • Use of date fields for non-date values

Go Deeper On COBOL Code Assessments

Each of the scenarios unchecked, can cause major problems in compilation and testing, so fixing them prior to marching down the mainframe modernization path will save a lot of time, money, and pain. To learn more about how to maximize the outcome of COBOL code assessments and your best options for modernization, download our Portfolio Analysis whitepaper or drop us a line.

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