Cobol conversion aids e-commerce

An Israeli software company is launching a service that could allow companies to save millions of pounds when moving legacy...

An Israeli software company is launching a service that could allow companies to save millions of pounds when moving legacy application to the Web by recycling old computer code for use in e-commerce.

Cliff Saran

An Israeli software company is launching a service that could allow companies to save millions of pounds when moving legacy application to the Web by recycling old computer code for use in e-commerce.

If the service from Intercomp lives up to its promise, users will be able to make use of existing software assets while moving applications onto the Internet.

The company is developing an online service designed to help users modernise legacy applications for e-commerce. It will offer a Web-hosted suite of development tools called eMaker, which it claims can help re-engineer legacy Cobol programs as Java applications.

Intercomp is planning to offer eMaker over the Web through an application service provider (ASP) agreement. Eran Tirer, chief executive officer at Intercomp, said for as little as $0.50 (31p) per line of Cobol code the company would offer a service for converting Cobol to Java. This compares to to $7-$23 a line for hand-coding. Banking applications can move into millions of lines of code.

Ovum analyst Christine Axton said that converting Cobol to Java was extremely expensive. "The skills for writing Cobol are totally different to Java," she explained. "It is rare to find people who can program in either language very well, which makes code translation a very expensive process." Developers can cost between £1,000 and £1,500 per day.

Axton said users could find the initial costs of the eMaker suite attractive as it does not require a large up-front software licence fee.

The eMaker tool provides a way for users to analyse and identify the business rules contained within their legacy Cobol applications and converts the code into Java.

Tirer said eMaker would be useful in banking and financial applications that needed to be put on the Web.

Companies could use the tool to identify the business processes required to perform a particular online banking function, such as a calculation of interest repayments. EMaker would then identify which portions of a legacy Cobol application performed this function and convert them into Java objects. These could then be accessed from a Web-based application to perform an interest-rate calculation for online customers.

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