COBOL comes to the cloud

In this year of super-tight IT budgets and focus on stretching what you’ve got rather than replacing it with something new, Micro Focus is bringing COBOL to the cloud.

Most vendor “support for EC2” announcements are nothing more than hype. Amazon’s EC2 is a Xen-virtualized environment. It supports the operating systems that run in that environment; most customers use Linux. Applications run no differently there than they do in your own internal data center. There’s no magical conveyance of cloud traits. Same old app, externally hosted in an environment with some restrictions.

But Micro Focus (which is focused around COBOL-based products) is actually launching its own cloud service, built on top of partner clouds — EC2, as well as Microsoft’s Azure (previously announced).

Micro Focus has also said it has tweaked its runtime for cloud deployment. They give the example of storing VSAM files as blobs in SQL. This is undoubtedly due to Azure not offering direct access to the filesystem. (For EC2, you can get persistent normal file storage with EBS, but there are restrictions.) I assume that similar tweaks were made wherever the runtime needs to do direct file I/O. Note that this still doesn’t magically convey cloud traits, though.

It’s interesting to see that Micro Focus has built its own management console around EC2, providing easy deployment of apps based on their technology, and is apparently making a commitment to providing this kind of hosted environment. Amidst all of the burgeoning interest in next-generation technologies, it’s useful to remember that most enterprises have a heavy burden of legacy technologies.

(Disclaimer: My husband was founder and CTO of LegacyJ, a Micro Focus competitor, whose products allow COBOL, including CICS apps, to be deployed within standard J2EE environments — which would include clouds. He doesn’t work there any longer, but I figured I should note the personal interest.)

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Posted on January 15, 2009, in Infrastructure and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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