CICS / WebSphere

IBM has been notifying customers in the past couple of CICS releases that they should be prepared for withdrawal of support for old releases of COBOL. It should come as no surprise that the latest announcement, CICS TS 3.1, confirmed their stance. This article examines the ramifications of that announcement, what customers’ options are if they’re impacted by the announcement, and how to prepare for the inevitable migration. We’ll also cover some new features that have shipped in support of COBOL developers.

One feature, the integrated translator component, was first shipped in CICS TS V2.2. It simplifies the development process by removing the translator step and potentially reduces programmer time and effort.

COBOL, Past and Present

Figure 1 details the numerous releases of COBOL and the status of each. This information isn’t new, and can be found on IBM’s LE Website at www.


Although the oldest releases of COBOL were withdrawn from service/ support many years ago, many customers found they still worked, so they’re still using them. Some customers took into consideration the time and money spent during the Year 2000 conversion projects and replaced the code with current, supported releases. Many merely changed the date routines to accommodate the four-digit year requirements and were lucky enough to produce source that successfully compiled. Many programmers breathed a sigh of relief when it worked. Some customers discovered that the source was no longer available, or couldn’t be guaranteed to match the executable load module that was in production, so they left them intact and tested. Sometimes it worked, so those old modules were moved along the supported chain of applications and allowed to remain.

They weren’t supported, but still executed. Unfortunately, that gave many customers a false sense of security that this old code could escape the migration effort. IBM has been warning customers about this for years, but the beginning of the end came with CICS TS V2. This version of CICS came with an enhancement to the application development process called the integrated translator component. CICS V2.2 documentation detailed the COBOL compilers supported as follows:

  • IBM Enterprise COBOL for OS/390 and z/OS, V3
  • IBM COBOL for OS/390 and VM
  • IBM COBOL for MVS and VM.

It also stated that changes were made to the translators for V2.2 to remove support for pre-Language Environment (LE) compilers such as:

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