There's life in legacy Cobol applications yet. A new offering from Micro Focus will enable companies to use applications written in the language within cloud computing environments.

The company has announced that Micro Focus Enterprise Cloud Services will support Amazon EC2 platform, the company announced support for Microsoft's Azure Platform last month.

"We're pleased to see Micro Focus use of Amazon Web Services to further enable companies of all sizes to take advantage of the cloud," said Steve Rabuchin, Amazon web services director of developer relations and business development. "By leveraging Amazon EC2, Micro Focus is bringing their customers the scalable and highly available web infrastructure that they require."

Not only will this extend the life of legacy applications within enterprises but it could provide a new revenue source for ISVs, said Mark Haynie, CTO for application modernisation at Micro Focus. "If you're an ISV and have developed an inventory application and use Micro Focus Cobol you can use and package that application to customers as a hosted application - this could be a new distribution channel for ISVs," he said.

Haynie said that the technology would offer a way for companies to use a lot of existing applications without the need for rewriting them.

"If an application is working perfectly, what is the reason to rewrite it in a new language," he said. "I used to be an engineer and I wouldn't be pleased if I'd been asked to rewrite a program in a new language even though the old one was working perfectly."

He said that this approach chimes in perfectly with Micro Focus's philosophy. "We have a saying - re-use is more important than re-write." He added that even though cloud computing was a newer technology, there was still plenty of scope to incorporate older languages such as Cobol. "We believe that cloud computing is not about languages but about services. If applications have been written in Cobol, then they can be used in cloud."

He said that Micro Focus was keen to support all manifestations of cloud computing. "We're cloud-agnostic: you don't have to be worried about opting for Amazon or MS Azure; we know that cloud is just another platform, Haynie said.

Micro Focus has not yet announced pricing for product. "We have made no announcement on pricing yet. That's been deliberate; we are still working with our early adopters on this and are looking to make an announcement at Micro Focus World later this year.