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Modernization - Time to shed the legacy

All applications and systems have a life-cycle that goes from build to retire. Somewhere in between lies the stage of renewing the capabilities of the system. Labeled variously as Modernization/Renewal/Enhancement, this is the most important phase from the perspective of extending the life of the application and enhancing the long term value harvested from it.

Through the 80's & 90's, almost all large enterprises had invested heavily on mainframe systems building huge applications that could crunch through large amounts of data through overnight batches. The emphasis was on accumulating business events through the day and then processing them overnight to complete the process.With the dawn of the internet age, these were considered to be slow behemoths that needed to be made nimble and real time.This spawned a whole new trend of Legacy Modernization.IT service vendors rushed to create LM Centers of Excellence to service the demand for re-engineering these systems and created a menu card of offerings ranging from SOA enablement to outright migration off of the old platform.

These solutions enabled the enterprise to connect their legacy systems to the spanking new web systems that they built from the ground up.   They helped the systems be more efficient and run with lower MIPS (read as $$).The re-hosting solutions enable the mainframe code to run on open hardware allowing some enterprises to completely eliminate mainframes from their systems.While these allowed the foundation to be cleaned up, they do not really address the needs of businesses today.

Today's businesses want to connect with the new age digital consumers, who in turn demand a compelling user experience across multiple devices.Business' want insights into their consumers' needs even before they do. The catch here is, they want to do this at a lower IT budget. The challenge before IT is how to do all this by leveraging their multi-billion dollar past investment in the existing systems.This is where we need to expand the way we look at modernization.The blinkers that limit our view on modernization to just the services that impact the mainframe environment need to be removed.The definition of modernization should include capabilities that bring the systems to the new consumer centric world. These would no doubt be based on a foundation that is built on 'legacy' systems that have been modernized by legacy modernization.But the processes of bringing capabilities like mobility, cloud, analytics etc. needs to be looked at from the lens of modernization.      

Doing so will have a number of benefits:
  • It will force IT to think of leveraging existing assets to deliver the new age capabilities
  • It will train the spotlight on the fact that it's not only the mainframe systems that need to be modernized
  • Allow budget planners to allocate the right funds in an incremental fashion instead of a large investment to create brand new systems
The Infosys Tomorrow's Application Viewpoint provides a comprehensive view into this interesting new area.


Good Article, I agree the thoughts.

However I dont think all business need a flair of mobility or next generation user experience or not necessarliy all business rely on digital consumers. It depends on the business type, business focus, industry segment and mother of all - end users. While I agree modernization shouldn't be always seen as "rehosting" or "migration" exercise at times you ought to do ROI and check the business roadmap, strategy, question the drivers before looking deeper into the modernization lens for "conversion" or "transalation" or "reengineering (reverse and forward)" route. While these give enough flexibility to business on capabilities it does come with additonal cost and schedule!

So in sumarry there is no one solution to all modernization problems. Yes, a proper ROI with business roadmap and strategy can help finalizing the "required" solution option for any enterprise.

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