COBOL Market 3X larger than Previously Estimated: Survey

Micro Focus has shared the commissioned results of a global, independent market survey, showcasing an unprecedented amount of COBOL code in use, and a remarkable market opportunity for application modernisation. 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 modernise their applications and support cloud by the end of the year.

According to the global survey, COBOL is viewed as strategic by 92 per cent of respondents, and the amount of COBOL code in daily use increased significantly to 775-850 billion lines.

Ed Airey, director of COBOL product marketing, Micro Focus, said, “As organisations look to deliver on IT strategies through modernisation and digital transformation initiatives, the findings of the latest COBOL survey demonstrate the continued importance of COBOL for application modernisation and business change. 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 organisations and requires ongoing investment as part of a larger modernisation strategy.  For IT leaders, supporting core business systems, COBOL application modernisation 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.

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 (1).
  • The direction is continued growth: nearly half of the survey’s respondents expect the amount of COBOL in use at their organisation to increase in the next 12 months. Furthermore, last year’s research report showed that over half of respondents (52 per cent) expect for their organisations’ 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 modernisation for next gen developers.
  • COBOL remains strategic for organisations: 92 per cent of respondents stated that their organisations’ COBOL applications are strategic with future IT strategy and application portfolio alignment with new technology being listed as the key drivers for COBOL modernization.
  • Modernisation of COBOL applications is the preferred path forward: As opposed to a rip and replace approach, 64 per cent of respondents intend to modernise their COBOL applications and 72 per cent of respondents see modernisation as an overall business strategy.  
  • Cloud is the primary technology driving application modernisation: When asked about their company’s plans for COBOL and the cloud in 2021, 43 per cent of the survey’s respondents stated that their COBOL applications do and will support cloud by the end of the year. In addition, 41 per cent stated that new business projects require integration with existing COBOL systems.


(1) Previously reported market estimates, often a couple of decades old, have been in the 200-300 billion range

For more information on the Micro Focus COBOL Survey, visit