Legacy Modernization 101

As cloud, mobility and big data continue to gain steam, making the most of your legacy applications can feel a lot like operating with albatross around your neck.  However, this doesn’t mean it’s time to jump ship. Instead, consider embarking on a legacy application modernization journey. When strategically planned and properly managed, modernizing custom legacy applications can be a low-risk, cost-effective way to conserve your critical intellectual property and maximize investments.

Of course legacy application modernization doesn’t just happen. The best results occur when companies embrace a holistic approach that’s future-oriented and considers enterprise goals.

Let’s take a look at what’s involved in a successful legacy application modernization.

Honestly Assess Your Modernization Drivers and Willingness to Invest. If you are looking for pure cost take-out or consolidation, select a transformation approach that limits functionality change and stresses fast, efficient and cost effective platform migration.  If you truly plan to enhance the business benefit or technical architecture of your applications, be ready to make the investment.  Frustration and conflict can be injected into the process when project and organizational objectives are not aligned.

Consider the Full Picture. When planning for modernization, it is imperative to consider all project aspects upfront. Analysis must include existing IT architecture and capacities, as well as business and performance requirements. The goal should be to create a 360-degree view of application usage, including how people operate the applications, what data they use, and how the applications have been modified over the years. This process produces a realistic view of how effectively the legacy applications meet your organizational objectives today, and the functional interdependencies among all assets. It takes such understanding to effectively map out the future environment.

With a strong understanding of where you are, and where you want to be, the next strategic steps of legacy modernization focus on putting perspective into action.

Pursue Re-hosting. In many instances, especially if cost take out is your primary objective, it makes sense to re-host custom applications, as well as packaged applications, infrastructure applications and databases from a variety of platforms including IBM mainframes and proprietary UNIX systems. Taking this approach reduces complexity and enhances existing application and data value by moving your assets to a cost-effective platform.

Embrace Re-architecture. The goal of re-architecture is to enhance business value by updating the functionality and constructs of legacy applications and data. Rather than starting from scratch, this comprehensive redevelopment process eliminates the obsolete code in legacy systems that constrain agility, while enhancing current business-relevant functionality. Done right, re-architecting empowers your organization to quickly adapt and respond to changing business demands.

Understandably, legacy modernization takes commitment. Finding an experienced partner can often play a pivotal role in helping you achieve success and avoid potential pitfalls. Unlike some IT undertakings, modernization is often more of a journey than a project. However, done right, the results are well worth the effort. After all, legacy application modernization yields more cost effective, efficient, responsive and competitive environments that position your business to address new requirements. 

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.