A legacy you can be proud of?

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.

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.

www.microfocus.com/transform

Survey reveals IT Leaders Aren’t Tackling IT Debt or Robustly Reviewing their Applications

A global survey of 590 IT leaders released today uncovers the fact that IT debt (the cost of clearing the backlog of IT maintenance to bring the application portfolio up to date) is poorly understood and that those responsible for mainframe management are not robustly reviewing their portfolio of applications.  Key findings include:

  • On average, organizations have estimated their IT debt at $10.9 million, with $8.5 million (78%) attributed to mainframe applications
  • IT debt is estimated to grow on average by 9% over the next 5 years
  • 44% admit they don’t have a structured process for measuring and managing their IT debt or don’t know if they have one and 45% aren’t even planning to implement one

In fact, despite 87% of organizations claiming to have a structured review process and strategy for their application portfolio, which they review on average every four months, 57% admit to having an unclear picture:

  • 1 in 20 admit their application portfolio is “a confusing mess”
  • Nearly one fifth (18%) say their app portfolio contains legacy apps that no one knows how to update and that they are afraid to touch
  • Nearly one fifth (18%) say their app portfolio contains redundant apps that are eating up unnecessary MIPS – but that they don’t have a means to identify and / or retire them
  • 15% say M&A activity has created an unclear picture of what apps they’ve got, the relationship between those apps and what should be retired

What these figures illustrate, is that the majority of IT leaders aren’t undertaking comprehensive reviews and updates of their application portfolio; they are tinkering under the bonnet rather than actively ‘installing a new engine’. To counteract this trend, IT organizations need to transform from short-term, project-obsessed organizations to asset-obsessed ones, and proper investment in Application Portfolio Management (APM) is the key.
The challenge is that it’s difficult to attribute an immediate return on investment to APM given its mid to long term value, which sits at odds with the way most IT leaders are measured – on how well and how quickly they react to and deliver against short term changing business demands.  It is the forward looking IT leaders of today that will stand out and break the cycle of short term needs response.  Although no one gets hero status by understanding their existing application portfolio, it’s the only effective way to tackle the growing balance sheet liability of IT debt, and more importantly, set the IT organization up to deliver successfully against evolving business needs in the longer term.

Further information is included in the research, which you can find here, including details on the IT skills shortage and the application modernization conundrum.  

Budget Optimization Summit

Written by Tod Tompkins

Today’s entry will be quick, but I wanted to bring to your attention an important event that is taking place in Washington, DC this week focused on strategies for saving money by determining intellectual property embedded in legacy systems and establishing connectivity and readiness to cloud-based architectures. Full disclosure, my company is a sponsor of the event, but the Budget Optimization Summit is bringing together a number of current and former government CIOs, CFOs, and other technology leaders to “share how federal agencies can cut through the rhetoric of IT fads and get to the heart of strategic value and IT operational cost savings.”

A sample list of the speakers, include:

  • Dorothy Aronson, Acting Director, Division of Information Systems, National Science Foundation
  • Kristyn Jones, Director for Financial Information, Office of the Assistant Secretary, Department of the Army
  • Amy Northcutt, Chief Information Officer, National Science Foundation
  • Scott Quehl, Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration, Department of Commerce
  • Simon Szykman, Chief Information Officer, Department of Commerce
  • Mike Wash, Chief Information Officer, National Archives and Records Administration

Topics of discussion will touch on IT modernization, extending the life legacy systems, financial management transformation, and outsourcing vs. insourcing…all with a focus on true cost savings in the near term. This type of event – which is free to attend by the way (how could it not be given the topic) – is critical to help facilitate discussion around cost savings. I highly recommend attending. Registrations can be made here.

Requirements Management and Mobile Testing at QUEST 2012

Clinton Sprauve, director, product marketing & strategy, and Pete Dupre, chief architect of Borland solutions are headed to Chicago, IL this week to discuss mobile functional testing and requirements management optimization at the QUEST 2012 Software Testing Conference and Expo. This gathering of IT professionals in the QA community will discuss and share knowledge about the increasingly important demand  of  building and testing quality software. This year’s rich agenda features tracks in agile, management, process and assessment, requirements analysis, test automation and testing practices.

If you’re at the event, Pete and Clint welcome you to come by and get involved in their discussions.

Session Details

Requirements Roulette: Gambling with Your Company’s Money

Who: Pete Dupre, chief architect of Borland Solutions, Micro Focus

When: Thursday, May 3rd at 9:45 AM

Where: Grand Ballroom G, Westin Lombard Yorktown Center

What: This session will address the issue of IT project failures that arise from inadequate requirements practices. It will outline best practices and strategies for ensuring IT projects do not become failures. It will also explore the challenges of requirement processes, common reasons for failure and how social, mobile and cloud technologies are affecting the requirements process.


Functional Testing for Mobile Devices

Who: Clinton Sprauve, director, product marketing & strategy, Micro Focus

When: Thursday, May 3rd at 2:30 PM

Where: Expo Hall, Westin Lombard Yorktown Center

What: This session will provide an overview of Silk Mobile, Micro Focus’ new mobile testing solution for Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Symbian. It will address the growing change and competition in the mobile landscape and advise testers how to adapt with reusable, maintainable regression test suites.

Additional information from the event will be shared on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/QUAquest and using #QUEST2012.

StarTeam® Goes Agile!

StarTeam’s exciting new agile support promises real benefits for companies looking to bring their agile processes and mainstream delivery closer together.

May 15th 2012 marks the official release in beta of StarTeam’s new agile planning and tracking support, which we are calling simply StarTeam® Agile.  We’ll be reaching out to our StarTeam customers to ask them to get involved in what we believe is an exciting new phase in software delivery.

So, if you are a StarTeam customer, aside from hoping you’ll be as excited about this as we are, we would ask you to look out for the information that’s going to be coming your way shortly after that release date and get in touch with us.

In the meantime, read on for why we honestly do believe this is something you’ll want to be part of…

The rise of agile

Software development organizations of all sizes are turning to agile methods to help them improve their ability to deliver great software.  Quite what form that adoption will take tends to vary, based on factors like size, industry, and geographical distribution, but the general view is that a hybrid approach being called ‘Water-Scrum-Fall’ is emerging as the most common scenario, where traditional requirements gathering feeds an agile development phase, before handing off for final acceptance testing.

But whatever the detailed implementation of ‘agile’, it’s generally agreed that software delivery organizations are looking to make it a bigger part of their process.  And why wouldn’t they?  Agile brings collaboration and better stakeholder involvement, which in turn brings faster decision-making, better developer responsiveness and improved time to market.

All of which, of course, tends to bring happier customers.

The challenges of agile adoption

But the adoption of ‘agile’, especially in larger organizations, is not without its challenges.  Integrating agile practices or teams with existing, more traditional processes can prove frustrating for both developers and managers; the objectives, and indeed the overall philosophy, of each party often seem to stand in complete contradiction to the other.  On the one hand, the need for high-level aggregated information drives a desire for data collection, dashboards, and unification across all delivery processes, regardless of method or underlying technology.  On the other hand, the emphasis is on co-located teams and manual processes, on working software and lightweight tooling.

And it doesn’t stop there.

As well as needing management visibility for the purposes of planning and tracking, the question of corporate governance has the potential to strain relationships too, with talk of the need for traceability, workflows and audit trails raising the hackles on many an agile practitioner’s neck.

The power of StarTeam

This kind of visibility and control has always been within the reach of StarTeam users, with the robust change management platform taking things way beyond source control, to provide much-needed insight across the entire lifecycle.

The 12.0 release of StarTeam took things a stage further, enabling users to define their own asset types (through the use of ‘custom components’) and bring in more third-party data (through the use of the Tasktop Connector for Borland).  This now means that many more assets can be tracked, with defects from Jira or Bugzilla, for example, appearing alongside requirements from HP or StarTeam, as well as any other custom assets needed to support the software delivery process.

It is fair to say, though, that supporting agile teams in StarTeam has not been without its own set of challenges, either requiring StarTeam users to bend their way of working to fit the tool, or necessitating the introduction of additional functionality through the powerful StarTeam SDK.

This is no longer the case.

Real agile support comes to StarTeam

Agile teams can now work in a natural, even tactile way, recreating many of their preferred manual activities, without having to concern themselves with any of the underlying architecture – while at the same time, all their assets and all their changes, like user stories and tasks, are being tracked, traced and versioned, helping to build a comprehensive view across the entire project landscape, regardless of methodology or geographical location.

And as well as supporting the needs of the agile teams, some of the more specific benefits coming through the power of StarTeam include:

  • Seamless and automated traceability from agile task to source code.  As soon as you create and assign your agile tasks, they appear in the developer’s task list in their IDE, even without refreshing – and from that point on, as the task is activated and code is edited, traceability is being created.
  • Running agile processes against existing projects, releases and teams.  As soon as StarTeam Agile is installed in your system, it connects to your existing StarTeam server and automatically enables you to see all your existing projects, releases and teams, removing the need for any manual intervention in keeping your agile activities up to date alongside all your other projects.
  • Snapshot the state of your agile assets using the same mechanism that you already use for your code.  All StarTeam users understand that version control is not just about source code; all other software assets are changing too.  Keeping on top of this not only means knowing which version of a requirement or defect links to any given version of source code, but also which release or product build that user story or task got completed in, so your customers can upgrade in full knowledge that their issues or requests have been addressed.

So, if you think this all sounds interesting, please get in touch and look out for more information as it becomes available.  May 15th is the official beta release date for StarTeam customers.

StarTeam® Goes Agile!

StarTeam’s exciting new agile support promises real benefits for companies looking to bring their agile processes and mainstream delivery closer together.

May 15th 2012 marks the official release in beta of StarTeam’s new agile planning and tracking support, which we are calling simply StarTeam® Agile.  We’ll be reaching out to our StarTeam customers to ask them to get involved in what we believe is an exciting new phase in software delivery.

So, if you are a StarTeam customer, aside from hoping you’ll be as excited about this as we are, we would ask you to look out for the information that’s going to be coming your way shortly after that release date and get in touch with us.

In the meantime, read on for why we honestly do believe this is something you’ll want to be part of…

The rise of agile

Software development organizations of all sizes are turning to agile methods to help them improve their ability to deliver great software.  Quite what form that adoption will take tends to vary, based on factors like size, industry, and geographical distribution, but the general view is that a hybrid approach being called ‘Water-Scrum-Fall’ is emerging as the most common scenario, where traditional requirements gathering feeds an agile development phase, before handing off for final acceptance testing.

But whatever the detailed implementation of ‘agile’, it’s generally agreed that software delivery organizations are looking to make it a bigger part of their process.  And why wouldn’t they?  Agile brings collaboration and better stakeholder involvement, which in turn brings faster decision-making, better developer responsiveness and improved time to market.

All of which, of course, tends to bring happier customers.

The challenges of agile adoption

But the adoption of ‘agile’, especially in larger organizations, is not without its challenges.  Integrating agile practices or teams with existing, more traditional processes can prove frustrating for both developers and managers; the objectives, and indeed the overall philosophy, of each party often seem to stand in complete contradiction to the other.  On the one hand, the need for high-level aggregated information drives a desire for data collection, dashboards, and unification across all delivery processes, regardless of method or underlying technology.  On the other hand, the emphasis is on co-located teams and manual processes, on working software and lightweight tooling.

And it doesn’t stop there.

As well as needing management visibility for the purposes of planning and tracking, the question of corporate governance has the potential to strain relationships too, with talk of the need for traceability, workflows and audit trails raising the hackles on many an agile practitioner’s neck.

The power of StarTeam

This kind of visibility and control has always been within the reach of StarTeam users, with the robust change management platform taking things way beyond source control, to provide much-needed insight across the entire lifecycle.

The 12.0 release of StarTeam took things a stage further, enabling users to define their own asset types (through the use of ‘custom components’) and bring in more third-party data (through the use of the Tasktop Connector for Borland).  This now means that many more assets can be tracked, with defects from Jira or Bugzilla, for example, appearing alongside requirements from HP or StarTeam, as well as any other custom assets needed to support the software delivery process.

It is fair to say, though, that supporting agile teams in StarTeam has not been without its own set of challenges, either requiring StarTeam users to bend their way of working to fit the tool, or necessitating the introduction of additional functionality through the powerful StarTeam SDK.

This is no longer the case.

Real agile support comes to StarTeam

Agile teams can now work in a natural, even tactile way, recreating many of their preferred manual activities, without having to concern themselves with any of the underlying architecture – while at the same time, all their assets and all their changes, like user stories and tasks, are being tracked, traced and versioned, helping to build a comprehensive view across the entire project landscape, regardless of methodology or geographical location.

And as well as supporting the needs of the agile teams, some of the more specific benefits coming through the power of StarTeam include:

  • Seamless and automated traceability from agile task to source code.  As soon as you create and assign your agile tasks, they appear in the developer’s task list in their IDE, even without refreshing – and from that point on, as the task is activated and code is edited, traceability is being created.
  • Running agile processes against existing projects, releases and teams.  As soon as StarTeam Agile is installed in your system, it connects to your existing StarTeam server and automatically enables you to see all your existing projects, releases and teams, removing the need for any manual intervention in keeping your agile activities up to date alongside all your other projects.
  • Snapshot the state of your agile assets using the same mechanism that you already use for your code.  All StarTeam users understand that version control is not just about source code; all other software assets are changing too.  Keeping on top of this not only means knowing which version of a requirement or defect links to any given version of source code, but also which release or product build that user story or task got completed in, so your customers can upgrade in full knowledge that their issues or requests have been addressed.

So, if you think this all sounds interesting, please get in touch and look out for more information as it becomes available.  May 15th is the official beta release date for StarTeam customers.