What’s Cobol got to do with the Cloud
A couple of years ago I was helping a friend set up IT infrastructure for his startup. Not that I was fully qualified for the job, but I was as close to an IT guy as it gets for him. Besides, I knew a little secret. Having spent a few years by then building products for “the Cloud” I knew that a company starting from scratch does not need an IT guy. It does not need IT. All it needs is SaaS. So I set up my friend with email, calendar, collaboration suite, storage, revision control system, and backup – all delivered as SaaS at a monthly cost of a dinner for two.
Indeed, SaaS goes a long way when it comes to startups, but what about companies that have dozens (or thousands) of employees trained to work with applications designed when Apple was cool the 1st time around and cloud meant visible moisture? These companies have terabytes of data that these legacy apps know how to work with and the newer SaaS apps don’t. Some say – give it enough time and everybody will eventually migrate to SaaS. People will get trained and data will get converted. I agree, with the caveat that ‘enough time’ could mean decades. There is an example from the past that leads me to believe that.
Cobol is a programming language that was created before I was born. When I went to school, they had stopped teaching Cobol because the predicition was that it would be obsoleted by newer languages. Apps were slated to be rewritten to take advantage of such innovations as PL1, Pascal and C. Well, according to a dude from IBM as recently as in 2009 there were still ”250bn lines of Cobol code working well worldwide. Why would companies replace systems that are working well?”.
Old software never dies. That maxim leads me to believe that we will see legacy apps in the enterprise datacenters and in the cloud driving the demand for IaaS for years to come. IaaS in the public cloud gives enterprise a chance to take advantage of the cloud without having to undergo a painful migration to SaaS. And of course when these legacy apps deal with sensitive or mission-critical data they will need to be cryptographically protected and performance–monitored. And this is where our CloudLink product excels.