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What did NASA Find on Mars? Evidence of COBOL modernization gone wrong?

This week there has been numerous news articles about NASA having made a historical find on planet Mars. I wonder what this could be! As this is a “legacy Modernization” forum, I keep my guesses/ humour only to related technology issues – such as Martian “equivalent” of Y2K, COBOL resources, never ending Business Rule-Extraction validations, and so on.

We know there is no life on Mars. But maybe there once was. Did NASA find evidence of a failed Martian's Environmental Control System - perhaps caused by :

  • The new IT guys moved the application from Mainframe & Unix boxes to run on an iPhone / iPad (sounded like a good idea at the time)
  • computer never auto-rebooted from Blue-Screen of Death.
  • Y2K project didn’t finish in time
  • The ERP implementation of the system was abandoned after $200 Billion (see previous post)
  • The management waited too long, all legacy resources had left deciding before modernization project started
  • The move from a procedural system to a rule / inference engine based one, well, it took a lot longer than envisaged
  • The support Telephone line's automated options went on too long (for help with loss of atmosphere press 21 followed by # key, for help with … )
  • They moved the system to a (methane?) cloud, but it dissipated
  • the Modernization Patent Wars killed all projects. (don't worry, SoftwareMining is safe should similar problems start here on earth. Phew :) )

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Replacement of 200 Legacy System with a single ERP get cancelled after $1Bill

An article in Computer world magazine reports on Air Force scraps massive ERP project after racking up $1 billion in costs. The system was meant to replace some 200 legacy systems.
According to the article, Oracle ERP was supposed to be used to replace the 200 Legacy systems containing business logic which have evolved over many years. I have no doubt that Oracle ERP is a very good and competent system - and most of the difficulty would have been the merge of the business logic from 200 dispersed systems.
I wonder what went wrong. Was it difficult to extract the business rules, was merging them the issue, was the system simply too big for anyone to master ???
Manual rewrite of legacy system is a large software project, the kind which have a tendency to go over time and budget. Hence the argue goes that an automated translation, (one which can generate high quality translation) is a lot less risky than a "manual project", and have a better chance of completing within budget and on time.
But this time, they weren't rewriting the whole thing, but using an established ERP system. I guess the same argument applies.

COBOL developers, Guns and Viagra

COBOL website bypasses Viagra Ads and goes straight to Funeral Plan Ads! Ouch!

A recent article in The Economist - on Guns finishes off by saying:

… most NRA convention-goers in St Louis were white men over the age of 40—a segment of the population on the decline. The classified sections in NRA magazines such as American Rifleman feature, besides all the weaponry, advertisements for gardening equipment andViagra.
I found that funny & amusing, until I saw an advert for Funeral Plans on MainFrame COBOL website. Ouch. (if it isn't there the first time - "refresh" the page several times and it will appear).

For a while some have argued COBOL is still going very strong whilst others argue it is a dying language. I think it is fair to say there is still a lot of it out there, but it is long since it is used in new software developments. Ie most of the COBOL developers merely maintain and extend existing systems.

OK, most of the cobol expertise is now held with middle aged people (my age) - and so I would understand if there were Viagra Ads on COBOL websites, but Funeral Plans? really? it is a little premature isn't it!

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