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Local firm wins Danish deal for Cobol conversion

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MigrationWare, a Cape Town-based IT company,  has won a contract to modernise the Danish company Bankdata’s IT assets, originally developed using the fourth-generation development language (4GL) Mantis, to a Cobol (Common Business Oriented Language) environment. 

João de Oliveira, MigrationWare sales director, says the contract is a significant win for MigrationWare and demonstrates that the South African software industry is still capable of competing internationally for large contracts.
“Bankdata, based in the town of Fredericia in Denmark, was formed in 1967 as joint-venture between 17 local banks. It provides a full IT-product and facility management service for its owners, allowing them to focus on their core competencies. The company provides new applications for the financial sector and manages the banks’ hardware,” he says.
While four international companies were evaluated for the contract, MigrationWare’s history of international implementations in the UK and US, along with the proof of concept developed for Bankdata, resulted in MigrationWare winning the project, which will run over a number of months.
MigrationWare has completed first phase of the project which is designed to map-out and check all processes in order to lay the foundation for the execution of all remaining phases.
The full migration from the Mantis environment to the Cobol environment is now set to begin.
“Modernisation projects are intended to protect and extend existing investments in IT assets by assuring the technical foundations that underpin the core business systems, ensuring that these are open and based on widely supported software. What this translates to in Bankdata’s case was moving their current applications and data from a Mantis environment to a Cobol environment,” De Oliveira says.
Mantis, like many of the interactive 4GLs, was developed and widely implemented for the development of IT systems in the 1980s and 1990s and is one of MigrationWare’s focus areas. It was introduced as a RAD (Rapid Application Development) technology that facilitated significant productivity gains.
“However, like many of 4GLs, software costs, on-going maintenance costs and a dwindling number of qualified technicians worldwide have resulted in companies like Bankdata migrating applications developed in Mantis to other environments,” he says.
The pervasiveness, openness and portability of Cobol across a large number of platforms, together with an existing commitment to Cobol at Bankdata, meant it was the obvious platform choice to migrate Bankdata’s existing applications to.
“While Cobol has been around for almost 50 years, it has evolved significantly over the years. The language still has significant application today and is widely used by financial institutions because it meets their business needs by providing mission critical, high throughput systems for processing bulk financial transactions,” says De Oliviera.
According to the Aberdeen Group, Cobol constitutes “$2-trillion worth of mainframe applications in corporations that house approximately 70% of all critical business logic and data". Forrester has stated that Cobol code running core business applications will exceed 200-billion lines of code this decade.
“Given Bankdata’s need to process  large amounts of financial transactions for the 17 banks it services, Cobol was the ideal choice for Bankdata,” De Oliveira adds.