App Modernization: Things You Should Know

By CIOReview | Thursday, September 15, 2016
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In this age of cutthroat competition and one-upmanship, every business is looking to be more productive and efficient when it comes to time and resource management. A business model whose primary aim is to provide products/ services to customers, there is one universal truth – no matter how great a product or service is, the business will eventually fail if it doesn’t pursue a holistic approach in delivering value to its customers.

It is very important to take a closer look at the business and consider all the necessary steps to augment the shortcomings in the current applications architecture. One thing that comes to the fore is the fact that only a small percent of functionalities is being used to meet the required business needs and businesses are working on systems which are fairly old and outdated. Today many businesses are working with an archaic strategy, and have no plan in place for doing things differently and make things happen.

If surveys are to be believed, they reveal a startling truth. According to a survey by CIMI Corporation, a leading telecom service provider, close to 33 percent of the respondents  run major applications more than ten years old, and about 20 percent of respondents have at least one major application that's around fifteen years old. This brings to light the fact that things need to change and change faster.

A new misconception that’s doing the rounds is that modernization implies moving applications to the cloud. It’s being seen as a remedy for all the ills. Unfortunately, enterprises with such a mindset are unlikely to make any progress in this area. If businesses are giving it a serious thought, then they should have a robust business-driven approach in doing it. So, if we are not looking at the cloud, then what are the ways in which we can change the existing architectural shortcomings and drawbacks, which are holding it back? In addition, if execution is the key to a successful business—what are the steps required to increase the business productivity for greater execution to achieve the strategic goals?

Transforming business is not such an easy process and it takes cohesive efforts from all sides to make incremental changes to the overall architecture. At times these changes have been painfully slow and they never got over the innovation barrier, because there was no immediate need or drive for modernization and transformation. The same holds true for every little change, as business remain averse to change.

Now, this trend is changing and the change is taking place at a rapid pace. There has been a renewed vigor and resurgence in the field of business transformation and investments have been flowing in. It’s fairly easy to understand the skepticism and difficulty on part of the organizations to decide the right time to deploy modernization strategies. Application modernization is not just about saving money or retiring outdated or legacy apps. On the contrary, it’s an ongoing business strategy that requires the participation of all the sections of an organization. It is of prime importance for an organization to have a leaner applications portfolio that empowers and enhances the business rather than bringing it down.

According to a report from Forrester Research, legacy applications with extensive appetite for resources are the driving force behind modernization. However, experts believe that the absence of comprehensive application portfolio assessment poses greater risk in reintroducing redundancy to the portfolio. In this regard, applications portfolio enhancement must be an ongoing process in order to be effective and productive. This can be broadly classified into two groups—internal IT assessment that takes care of the redundant software within an organization and the business applications that assesses the applications within a group.

The inflow of cash has changed the whole landscape and is gradually transforming the business. The increased vigor and interest is basically in three categories:

• Migration Tools: These tools are complex and sophisticated and it’s apparent that a very sophisticated language platform transformation technology is at play here.
• Screen Scraper Technology: It is very widely used and can be defined as the process of collecting screen display data from application and translating it so that another application can display it.
• Holistic Business Analysis and Transformation Tool Suites: This group of tools is meant to review all the systems. This type of business-driven modernization toolset looks at entire systems and can deconstruct the information about the whole system. There are a number of other technologies, such as cross-reference reporting and intelligence on the system or systems.

It’s a very common phenomenon in today’s environment that many legacy systems have been re-patched and upgraded to meet the requirements. Most of the businesses rely on these systems to perform daily routine work, but they find it really difficult to keep up with the large amounts of transactions and data. To them, the only available solution seems to migrating to the cloud. To keep up with the changing demands of the technology the old systems have been updated while the rest are being considered for legacy application modernization on new platforms.  

One must accept that the rate of modernization is moving at a snail’s pace, as most vendors are sticking with tools-assisted modernization. But there’s another aspect to this and the businesses who are willing to spend more and go full throttle for the application updates and tools modernization will definitely hold the key in the near future.