“Legacy transformation is the process of modernizing an operational system to retain and extend the value of investments in that system. True legacy transformation efforts are typically large in scale and usually involve both infrastructure and application modernization. The primary benefit of legacy transformation is the value derived from quick delivery of new or improved functionality that supports business objectives and enhanced business processes. Legacy transformation projects are frequently challenged, however, by a unique set of risks that threaten project success.” (http://doit.maryland.gov).
Why it is important for businesses?
There are several conditions that make legacy transformation important for businesses. Some of these include:
–> A considerable amount of legacy components get outdated or else the vendor community withdraws support
–> Frequent system outages due to obsolete and unreliable system components
–> Cost of implementing changes to business processes become too high and the process gets too complicated
–> Cost-effective solutions are available as an alternative to legacy maintenance
How it is done?
An article on mobilize.net gives a detailed account of the variety of tools, products and standards available to assist with the transformation. These are:
–> “Tools to help assess the complexities of the existing applications and to map/assess the code and interfaces.
–> Tools to automatically translate code for leading languages.
–> Tools to support conversion from legacy data structures to current relational databases.
–> Products to help engineer the required B2B, Web and client-server structures.
–> Standards like XML and JCA (a standard for synchronous connection of J2EE to applications and transaction processors) that facilitate integration.
–> Automatic analysis to help identify and develop standard components.”
Why to choose these tools?
–> Help reduce time-consumption and cost by cutting down the need for manual inputs. This helps speed up the transformation process.
–> Tried and tested tools help predict possible issues and ensure transparency of the process.
–> Acceptance criteria for existing test cases help preserve integrity of the legacy application
–> Single-language platform help merge the existing applications by migrating from several languages type
Some more reasons why these tools should be chosen are (as listed on mobilize.net):
–> “Preserve legacy value by transposing existing code to the new platform and ensuring that the conversion does not add new bugs.
–> Jump-start requirements definition by providing an explicit requirement base-line for the existing applications on which to build the definition of new functional requirements.
–> Future-proof the solution through targeting open platforms and improving the quality of the code and code structures so that the application can be readily adapted to fit changing business requirements.”
How to choose these tools?
Here are a few tips to choose the right tools for legacy application modernization.
#1. Understand what ‘modernization’ is in terms of your business requirements, so that you know what tool capabilities you need.
#2. Get a demo of the variety of tools available. If not that, watch the videos of how these tools work on the vendor’s websites. Visit conferences and trade shows where these vendors provide a free demo on site.
#3. Ask for customer’s references from the vendor. Join social networks where you can get valuable feedback about developers’ experiences with modernization tools.
#4. Have a rough idea about the ‘use scenario’ and your ‘enterprise application architecture.’ Getting a brief exposure to how the product works is always a good idea before you sit down to write pointers for a ‘Request for Proposal.’As described on blog.lansa.com, “a use scenario is a collection of ‘used cases’ and other information that describes your situation and needs. “An enterprise application architecture’ describes how a set of building blocks and principles should be used to design, implement and adapt applications that fulfill the enterprise’s business objectives. A well-thought-out application architecture not only provides a conceptual structure to guide developers; the architecture lays the foundation for a corresponding framework and tool set that can automate much of the application development effort, an essential prerequisite for greater agility, productivity and reliability.”
#5. Select a tool that provides an “application repository.” This is useful in storing all the information that defines application in a structured manner. Further, the fundamental benefit of an ‘application storehouse’ is that shared application items can be stored, managed, accessed and used whenever required by any of the users.
Author Blog: Michael Warne is a tech blogger and an expert in legacy application modernization. He has an experience of 5 years in the application development industry, and has worked as a certified for top IT companies.
Image Credit: blog.lansa.com