Home Just In COBOL Market is Three Times Larger than Previously Estimated: Micro Focus Survey

COBOL Market is Three Times Larger than Previously Estimated: Micro Focus Survey


Micro Focus has shared the commissioned results of a global market survey, showcasing an unprecedented amount of COBOL code in use, and a remarkable market opportunity for application modernization. Following last year’s research report, this year’s results reveal that the global COBOL application footprint continues to grow, and the majority of respondents intend to modernize their applications and support cloud by the end of the year.

According to the global survey, COBOL is viewed as strategic by 92 percent of respondents, and the amount of COBOL code in daily use increased significantly to 775-850 billion lines. Micro Focus, with over 45 years of experience in modernizing business-critical applications and their recent announcement as a key partner in the AWS Mainframe Modernization service, commissioned this new report on COBOL’s usage as part of their regular market analysis program.

“As organizations look to deliver on IT strategies through modernization and digital transformation initiatives, the findings of the latest COBOL Survey demonstrate the continued importance of COBOL for application modernization and business change,” said Ed Airey, Director of COBOL Product Marketing, Micro Focus. “800 billion lines of code reinforces the importance, and continued investment, in this most trusted of core business system technologies. This significant volume of COBOL application code in the marketplace represents remarkable value for organizations and requires ongoing investment as part of a larger modernization strategy. For IT leaders, supporting core business systems, COBOL application modernization lies at the heart of digital transformation.”

Produced by Vanson Bourne, a global research and analysis company, the global survey asked COBOL-connected architects, software engineers, developers, development managers and IT executives from 49 countries to determine and calculate the volume of COBOL application code running production systems, as well as the strategic importance of COBOL applications to their business, future application roadmaps, planning, and resources.

“For this year’s survey, Vanson Bourne set out to gather data from the IT community on COBOL’s continued relevance, in addition to getting a better picture of just how much COBOL is currently out there in use,” said Jimmy Mortimer, Senior Research Consultant at Vanson Bourne. “Whether this increase in code is externally driven or motivated by new technology or business transformation initiatives, it is clear that the importance and volume of COBOL in use continues to grow each year.”

Key findings of the Micro Focus COBOL Surveys include:

  • Global COBOL Code Volume hits new highs: More than 800 Billion lines of code running on production systems and in daily use, far exceeding any previous estimates.
  • The direction is continued growth: Nearly half of the survey’s respondents expect the amount of COBOL in use at their organization to increase in the next 12 months. Furthermore, last year’s research report showed that over half of respondents (52 percent) expect for their organizations’ COBOL applications to remain for at least the next decade, with more than four in five expecting that COBOL will still be in use when they ultimately retire–creating a need for continued COBOL investment and modernization for next gen developers.
  • COBOL remains strategic for organizations: 92 percent of respondents stated that their organizations’ COBOL applications are strategic with future IT strategy and application portfolio alignment with new technology being listed as the key drivers for COBOL modernization.
  • Modernization of COBOL applications is the preferred path forward: As opposed to a rip and replace approach, 64 percent of respondents intend to modernize their COBOL applications and 72 percent of respondents see modernization as an overall business strategy.
  • Cloud is the primary technology driving application modernization: When asked about their company’s plans for COBOL and the cloud in 2021, 43 percent of the survey’s respondents stated that their COBOL applications do and will support cloud by the end of the year. In addition, 41 percent stated that new business projects require integration with existing COBOL systems.

Along with this Micro Focus COBOL Survey, recent research shows that application modernization must be continuous and evolving in order to meet the changing needs of today’s business climate. Digital transformation demands a comprehensive, yet flexible and adaptive strategy aimed at improving results and accelerating time to value. Through the Micro Focus Modernization Maturity Model, IT leaders can quickly map their current IT environment to their future business strategy—all while finding the right balance between costs, risk and speed.


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