Three Essentials for Reducing Risk When Migrating from COBOL to Java

The process of modernizing legacy-based COBOL applications to object-oriented languages such as Java can be highly complex, expensive and time consuming. Here are three essential techniques you can leverage to reduce the risk and complexity around the modernization effort.

Narrow the focus, Reduce the Risk

Legacy systems have passed through many hands over many years, often without proper documentation of features or functional relationships. A detailed assessment of legacy applications and databases is essential for risk mitigation and proper decision-making in any COBOL to Java modernization effort. By analyzing the legacy inventory in detail, you will uncover mountains of dead or unused code. This discovery can significantly reduce the scope of a legacy modernization, reducing the cost of the project as a result.  In addition to cost reduction, trimming dead and unused code reduces the complexity of the modernization effort, a huge win considering these systems are almost always undocumented.

The chart below shows sample results of real Modern Systems assessments where application scope reduction typically ranges between 40 and 70 percent.

Source: Modern Systems

Understand the Details

For many organizations, the legacy system is a “black box” – a vast entanglement of intertwined code written by developers who retired or left the firm long ago, leaving behind little documentation or applied standards of any kind. These unknowns make planning a COBOL to Java migration extremely risky.

Another common risk associated with COBOL to Java migrations revolve around understanding the breadth of influence of the business rules housed within the legacy system, and planning based on the accuracy of the assessed complexity of the system itself. The depth of understanding of the source environment is directly related to an organization’s ability to plan for and implement a successful modernization strategy. With an accurate, detailed understanding you reduce the potential of cost overrun by understanding the inner workings of the project earlier, are able to set more realistic timelines, and understand the impact of scope and time on the level of effort required to be successful.

All COBOL to Java Migration Solutions Are Not Created Equal

Sifting through the cornucopia of tools and services on the market to facilitate COBOL to Java migrations can be daunting. Commercial off the shelf solutions typically turn into endless nightmares and the automated conversion market is saturated with tools that produce garbage code that’s virtually impossible to extend and maintain after the migration is complete. If your IT teams want to take advantage of agile development methodologies such as DevOps, it is important to choose a solution that produces maintainable code.

Modern Systems offers an extensive Mainframe Assessment solution that will help you narrow the scope of your legacy application migration and shine light on the business rules hidden in the black box of the legacy environment. In addition, our COBOL to Java Automated Conversion solution results in a 100% functional equivalent object oriented target application with a fully maintainable, easily extensible, code base.


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