Is COBOL The Root Of All (Technical) Evil?

OK, so I used a tongue-in-cheek title to attract your attention, forgive me. A recent blog about the Boomer retirement phenomenon provoked some comments by a colleague with strong opinions about COBOL's useful life. I felt that his comments raised a topic that is substantial enough to warrant its own place in the blogosphere. The comments read, in part:

" I am a boomer myself ... But as a software architect who has to look ahead and figure out what customers and users want I can't wait for the 3270 green screen boomer generation to retire.  It will allow for the acceptance of a new application paradigm. Those stepping up to the plate will not hesite to dump the COBOL garbage and use modern tools to create modern mobile apps that will finally end the drama of IT as today's business disabler. ..."

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Boomer Retirement And IT - Are You An Ostrich, Chicken-little, Or an Owl?

The rock-band R.E.M. sang a song about the "end of the world as we know it" and to hear some people talk - the end is near! 

The Chicken-littles of the world would have us believe that retiring Baby Boomers will wreak untold havoc. Half the world's population will suddenly disappear from the workforce - collapsing world markets, straining national pension systems to the breaking point, and burdening younger generations with unmanageable national debt.

Other folks are at the opposite end of the spectrum - they're in denial, like ostriches with their heads deep in the sand - if they don't look at how bad the problem is, it can't hurt them, right? No staffing problems here - look we can still hire people, let's deal with today's problems and not go looking for tomorrow's troubles!

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Is application consolidation keeping you up at night?

Murphy_p_small I've written a lot of research around the topic of application portfolio management (APM), and how the tools are slowly maturing from their application mining roots. Although the process of APM applies equally across packaged and custom-appls, the mining tools, until recently anyway, have excluded packaged applications.

Our application development team recently expanded with some new colleagues, and one of the topics a new colleague - George Lawrie - and I intend to take on as a joint effort is application consolidation across custom and packaged applications.

We'd like to know - how important is this topic to you - what are the nuances of it that keep you awake at night, or is it a non-issue? If it is a non-issue, why? Have you done such a good job of staving off redundant and obsolete technology, or is it someone else's responsibility? Please chime in, we'd love to hear about your application environments.