Your competitors are on it!
This doesn't seem to be the question anymore. But just in case you were too busy to read or hear what is going on these days, here is a short reminder: Today every part of the business – whether internal or external facing – is subject to new user experience expectations.
Every business has the need and the potential to be a digital business. The modern technological era sets a growing pace of real time response, fast and effective internal and external interactions and numbers of smart, connected devices from phones to cars to wearable tech are ever growing. And as the pace is growing, companies that quickly deliver digitally upgraded software assets or services, interact with real time data, reap data from processes or market interactions, and use insights to rapidly optimize their internal processes and value chain – are gaining competitive advantage.
Businesses that digitally transform will be able to react faster, make processes more efficient, connect more closely with partners and customers, speed up the pace of innovation and, as a result, claim a greater share of market and profit in their sectors.
Today digitally transformed companies, especially cloud based services, are gaining an edge; tomorrow, only digital businesses will survive.
Your legacy desktop is a major pain!
Companies and their CIOs today are facing a serious challenge. Legacy IT infrastructure and desktop applications are a constraint as CIOs look to start on digital transformation process. In fact, researches show that this might be a major roadblock on the way to digital transformation and the adaption of new technologies.
Unlike the digital natives, organizations born before the Internet typically don't have the luxury of starting from scratch with their IT infrastructures and desktop applications. Their enterprises usually are cluttered with older, transaction-based systems and applications that are infeasible or impractical to rip out because they still serve mission-critical business processes and reflect substantial investment in money and skills over the course of years. Many companies struggle with the resulting conundrum: How can they deliver on a digital transformation blueprint when legacy systems and desktop applications continue to do so much of the heavy lifting in the enterprise?
Success in addressing this legacy landscape is crucial for companies that want to be more agile competitors in today's ultra-fast-paced market. It is not only your pain, but you should push to overcome your most painful piece!
According to Gartner, global businesses will spend $3.5 trillion on IT – $1.3 trillion of which will go toward enterprise software and IT services. Unfortunately, much of that software and services spend is dedicated to just keeping the lights on — maintaining existing enterprise applications that run the business. That's a lot of money just to maintain the status quo.
That's why moving legacy applications onto a modern infrastructure, such as cloud, holds great promise for businesses that want to reduce IT spending and convert the savings into a competitive advantage. Modernizing makes sense, if you do it right and know how to avoid the pitfalls.
The modernization conundrum
Many IT organizations and DevOps teams have embarked on application modernization projects. The problem is that these projects are taking too long and creating vendor lock-in. Organizations are forced to choose a single cloud or container vendor, which can lead to unexpected (and unplanned) price increases down the road.
Modernizing legacy versions of applications such as Visual Basic, Power Builder, Oracle forms, Older Java versions etc. is a hard work, since they and their custom-built brethren were often designed as single, unbreakable monoliths. The applications – including associated data, security, and networking configurations – are tightly coupled with the underlying infrastructure. This tight coupling means it's difficult to upgrade components of an application individually. Even small updates trigger a long, slow regression-testing process that involves setting up a near-production testing environment, along with the appropriate data, configurations, etc. This process can be resources consuming, even for the smallest changes.
Applications at larger enterprises also tend to live in silos. At a bank, for instance, the retail business unit may have legacy desktop applications installed on completely different infrastructure than a commercial business unit running the same applications. This compounds the testing problem but also makes it difficult for IT to consolidate and optimize its infrastructure budget for platforms that offer the best combination of speed, agility, and cost. Even when applications are deployed in cloud environments, CIOs are wary of vendor lock-in and the specter of unexpected, unplanned price increases.
Finally, managing a diverse portfolio of legacy applications can be challenging for the IT operations team because the tools available to manage applications are either infrastructure-specific (e.g., older versions of Windows) or application-specific (e.g., Visual Basic, PowerBuilder etc). Most IT operations teams are quickly overwhelmed with the scope and quantity of tools they must master – not to mention the challenge of managing multiple vendor contracts, all with different pricing, terms, and upgrade schedules. It's no wonder that CIOs often complain about “tool fatigue” and the hard integration work it takes to weave all these point products together into a cohesive application delivery process.
To overcome these challenges, organizations must change the way they think about modernizing legacy applications.
These five ideas that could help:
1) Break down the monolith
Learn and analyze your legacy desktop applications. Create a good understanding of what the application looks like—comprehensively, holistically. Analyze every individual piece of that application: the components, functionality, dependencies like network configurations, the storage configurations, the servers, the organization they will use, and the target – how the application will use modern standard communication, deploy on the new servers etc.
Analyze all of the networking, connections and dependency between the individual components. Deconstruct that map into its different building blocks, functionalities and configurations. Breaking down the monolith into its individual working parts is the only way to reengineer it into the new modernized application.
Sounds impossible to do manually without advanced tooling? That is probably right. In most cases there is no good documentation, you will have to dig deep into the archeological layers of the application without much help from the developers who wrote the application because they have moved on. Are there any tools to help you?
You will be happy to hear – there are new tools. One of them is GizmoxTS analyzer .
2) Unshackle applications from infrastructure
Enterprise applications must be abstracted and separated from any custom legacy dependency on underlying infrastructure – in most cases broken into N- layers to fit the new modern platforms and for maintenance and extension purposes.
The application should be reengineered to integrate easily with modern middleware, sources of data and the network and security configurations. By transforming the dependencies of an application into open standard that can run on new modern platforms, it's possible to then deploy the application to the new platforms without changing a single line of code.
Good target planning allows you to rebuild the application to achieve complete portability between open standard platforms. It's only through complete portability between open standard environments, cloud included, storage options, and servers that IT organizations will break vendor lock-in and gain the flexibility required to move their applications to vendors that offer the best combination of price, performance, reliability, and features.
Are there tools that can help you reengineer your application to run natively on open standard platforms? Absolutely – Here is one of them.
3) Build security into your modernized application
Application security should not be tacked on after deployment. Doing so slows down continuous delivery processes such as DevOps and creates friction between the DevOps and the security teams. Instead, consider security an essential component of your overall application reengineering and treat it the same as any other component, by baking it into the new modernized application from the start. In this way, organizations can protect transformed legacy applications the instant they are deployed, regardless of the infrastructure used.
4) Build the new modernized application to last
Break the reengineered application into layers, consider the SOA based architecture. It will provide you the flexibility to adopt the current most advanced client / user interface technology that will probably change and be enhanced in 3-5 years. Make sure you convert the application to use open standard server technology that will last, but decouple the application layers in a way that you will not have to rewrite the complete application when the new client technology will kick in and become the hottest new thing. If you do not provide adequate user experience you will find yourself behind.
5) Modular equals well modernized
A modular application should be the crux of your modernization process. Decoupled layers is the magic word here.
It allows organizations to maintain and test the application in the most effective way and also to add modules and extend the application using new modern components and integration.