COBOL Still Handles 70% of Global Business Transactions

IBM is updating its mainframe chips with the Z15. It is a 14-nanometer chip. This matters because COBOL and mainframes are still processing the bulk of global business transactions.

The IBM presentation was at the Hot Chips conference which was attended by Sander Olson.

The mainframe and enterprise assets are at the center of a digital enterprise.

220+ billion lines of COBOL
COBOL still handle more than 70% of the business transactions that take place in the world today

Virtually Limitless Scale
1.3 million CICS transactions are processed every second, every day. In comparison, there are 68,542 Google searches every second globally

IBM estimates based on real client usage.

You’ve likely used a mainframe today
– 400 million retail transactions daily
– 80 million ATM transactions daily
– 1 million hotel night reservations daily
– over 90% of all airline reservations.

SOURCES – Hot Chip Conference, IBM, Sander Olson
Written By Brian Wang,

23 thoughts on “COBOL Still Handles 70% of Global Business Transactions”

  1. Things have improved quite a over the last few years. I have tons of stamps deployed in multiple public clouds, and they all are exclusively flash; SSD or NVMe. If you use Azure or AWS or Google, you’re probably using them and don’t even know it. The failure rate of the solid state components is far lower than rotating rust.

  2. I remember Cobol on punch cards, and Fortran too. While Cobol was a “programming” class back in the late 70s, Fortran was “Math 25”.

  3. My first language! I learned it on an Apple II running CP/M. 

    By the end of the class I knew more about programming than the teacher. Computer programming was REALLY new back then and the math teacher teaching the subject was having a hard time wrapping his head around it. For me it was like, fish, meet water.

  4. Not that old, my Vic-20 (with it’s cassette tape drive) had been gathering dust for some time by then. My college may have been a little behind the times, though.

  5. That’s some QLC consumer-grade shite. SLC still has ~100k writes endurance and optane DC 256 GB persistent memory DIMM have claimed endurance of 1.0M writes with 50/50 write and read load. Either will probably be fine. Load leveling means that writing many times to the same database record will not wear out any particular bit.

  6. Whenever I see the words “proprietary” and “IBM” used in conjunction with each other, I usually run the other way.

  7. That was kind of the idea I was trying to convey… Believe me, I scoured BSG references for anything else that could be twisted into a programming/computer reference.

  8. I am picturing a group of massive bearded nerds walking in slow mo down the street in 60s garb. *Queue BSG Theme*

  9. My first job was working with an IBM 370. Then 4341. Then 4381. Moved on to ES 9000. Then to Z 800. Now on Z114. Now with the virus I am controlling it from home via Citrix.

  10. If I had to guess I put your age at 60+. Just a little older than myself. I only used punchcards for boardgame scratch paper. I did get to write my own routine for reading reel to reel data tapes though {the kind you see seeking data in movies}. Good times.

  11. You don’t want solid state for anything you’ll be writing to a lot, as any particular physical bit can only be written to about 600 times.

  12. As for COBOL, I can take it or leave it. It is better than coding in Assembler. My favorite programming language from those days was “PL/1” but it lost the race, mostly due to the fact it was an IBM only product. It is still a lot more powerful than most modern programming languages.

  13. The biggest things IBM can do for the mainframe is get off rotating storage and go solid state. My old job is still using the old 1G HD drives because higher capacity HD can’t handle the transaction load. Mainframes do data processing. All it does is take a transaction and validate it, if the transaction is valid then update the database. The quicker you can get data into and out of the computer the better.

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