Reputed IT journalist and ComputerWorld Correspondent Robert L. Mitchell recently wrote a thought-provoking and well-argued piece on the future of “legacy” IT systems. Citing a number of direct references, Mitchell covered a number of issues including suitability for modernization, supporting skills demands, IT strategy as well as some more technical elements. The article raises some really important questions about tackling the so-called legacy burden in IT.
This has most recently been published in ComputerWorld Australia’s online publication.
Committed to helping organizations deliver greater value through the modernization of business applications, Micro Focus offered the following direct response.
“An efficient IT system is vital to the smooth running of any organisation. Given the sheer scale and types of service provided by most banks today, the fact that 75% of those questioned are using, trusted, proven legacy systems is somewhat unsurprising. However these legacy systems can eventually become costly to maintain and update and the problem is exacerbated by dwindling skills. It may be tempting to consider rewriting or replacing with more modern and theoretically maintainable systems. This is a common CIO level dilemma.
However, those that do still have so-called legacy systems are not doomed. Older infrastructures are still able to provide renewed value simply through re-using and exploiting those applications that still offer business value in more efficient ways.
One issue is the lack of clarity of what a legacy estate contains. Smart technology can provide a comprehensive overview of the application portfolio of the entire IT estate. Being able to identify those applications in that still offer enduring business value, helps the CIO decision making, retaining the valuable assets, while retiring those that are no longer effective and cost too much money.
The next issue of skills is less a people issue and more of an operational and structural question. The thing that separates the COBOL teams from their contemporary counterparts is a barrier of processes and organizational structure, rather than skill. Unifying technology environments based on Eclipse or Visual Studio allows all programmers, no matter their language skill, to work together and co-develop composite applications, using highly productive tooling and common processes. Existing barriers to efficiency can be removed through the latest in development technology that supports composite mainframe application development.
Finally the consideration of a rewrite is worth mentioning. While on paper such an idea might be considered viable, reports by Gartner and Standish Group describe the dangers of rewrite projects, with 74% of all such endeavours being delivered excessively late or failing to complete at all. Faced with such potential risk, CIOs are looking to exploit what they know already works: modernizing existing systems to support new business initiatives, using factual insights and in ways that help resolve skills concerns and support provide a compelling path to providing a secure future for many IT operations.”
Micro Focus’ new Enterprise product set addresses the IT strategy and application modernization needs of IBM mainframe shops. Faster application service delivery is achieved through technology that modernizes mainframe application analysis, development processes, testing cycles and even production workload. The Enterprise product set is a new generation of tooling that helps mainframe shops build applications faster and more cost effectively than ever before.