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Micro Focus

Size of COBOL

February 2022
Research parameters
Global (47 countries)
No. of interviews:
Respondent profile:
COBOL experts/ IT decision makers with knowledge of their organizations COBOL use


Micro Focus aimed to estimate the global count of COBOL code lines across all platforms. This stemmed from the current estimate of the size of COBOL, based on mid-1990s data, being outdated. Moreover, Micro Focus saw this as an opportunity to ‘own’ the COBOL space by updating this number.

Using a combination of market knowledge and primary research, the aim was to calculate a single, realistic number of COBOL lines to determine the size of COBOL in existence.


Based on this brief, Vanson Bourne needed to create a transparent methodology that:

  • Takes incomplete knowledge into account
  • Recognizes that COBOL users’ knowledge varies by platform, sector, and personal role
  • Uses available Micro Focus data sources where possible, and augment with market data if needed
  • Takes appropriate advantage of a large number of COBOL users that Micro Focus has direct access to, but also factors in where under-representation of certain platforms exists

We initially ran an extended pilot to test the methodology and calculations. We shared the pilot results with Micro Focus and made the required adjustments.


As a result, we provided Micro Focus with a reasonable likely estimate of the amount of lines of COBOL currently in use. In addition, it became both a preview and post-results webinar, in which we supported and participated.

Excitingly, if you type ‘Amount of COBOL‘ into Google, this is the featured finding that is brought up.


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Key findings

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
The direction is continued growth: nearly half of the survey’s respondents expect the amount of COBOL in use at their organization to increase in the next 12 months.
of respondents stated that their organizations’ COBOL applications are strategic with future IT strategy and application portfolio alignment with new technology being listed as the key drivers for COBOL modernization
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