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The problem with COBOL

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It’s been two weeks since Verge politics reporter Makena Kelly dove into the IT tangle that has taken down unemployment insurance coverage techniques throughout the nation. Since then, one other 4.Four million individuals have filed claims — bringing the overall to greater than 20 million individuals since mid-March — and the state of affairs has hardly improved. Some individuals report having to name hundreds of times earlier than getting by way of, maintaining them in limbo for weeks.

Numerous the blame has fallen on COBOL, a 1950s-era programming language that quite a lot of the techniques nonetheless run on. However this isn’t like previous {hardware} breaking down, and COBOL isn’t precisely damaged. The issues with working a decades-old programming language are extra refined — so refined you can run for years with none apparent downside.

The issues solely present up once you instantly have to deal with an unprecedented surge in visitors and you discover out your state unemployment system can’t scale up the way in which a service like Netflix or Zoom can. However to grasp why that’s, you could perceive the way in which community administration has modified over the previous 20 years (that’s, the shift from pets to cattle) and the way technical debt can lock you into the previous manner of doing issues.

And most significantly… you need to take a look at the Massive Image.

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