|By Mark LaJeunesse, Paul Evans||
|December 3, 2007 07:00 PM EST||
One of a CIO's top priorities is to leverage information to enable better business decisions and outcomes. Many CIOs trace constraints on their business back to the limitations of older legacy information systems - specifically, outdated applications.
A legacy-based environment can make it difficult to attain the level of agility, flexibility, and responsiveness that growing enterprises need from their applications. For many organizations, the application has become the business - powered by technology. Modernizing applications is a key step to providing agility and lower cost of ownership, as well as creating a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and ultimately, accelerating business outcomes. However, modernizing also presents risks - both in the process and the final result.
To manage the transition safely from costly and inflexible application architectures to increased application agility - which is aligned to and able to respond to business demands flexibly - there are critical steps that enterprises must take. Through a modernization process, enterprises can build a flexible and manageable application environment that can take advantage of an SOA and shared IT infrastructure, to make the best use of their company's most valuable resources: people and information. Application modernization uses services and technologies to reduce computing costs and improve IT service delivery, while enhancing customer service and knowledge-sharing capabilities.
This article will describe drivers for modernizing applications, the common misconceptions, and critical steps businesses should take to safely modernize applications to create a path to SOA.
Why Modernize Applications?
To achieve these outcomes effectively, CIOs need greater visibility into their application environment.
While most IT organizations are painfully aware that they have applications and systems that are underperforming, most aren't eager to undertake a modernization effort. There are several misconceptions surrounding modernization:
1. "This could compromise the service levels I'm accustomed to." Many times a senior IT executive will wonder, "If I move this piece of software from my legacy environment to a new system, will I get the same service levels?" Companies are hesitant to make the move and modernize their applications because they're unsure if the new system will garner them the same benefits.
The key here is to understand which attributes of the legacy system are critical to the business need and ensure that the functionality and underpinning infrastructure deliver and exceed the quality of service that the business demands. The secret is not to 'blindly' move all of the legacy software to a new platform, but to assess what software is required and what can be replaced or discarded. It's worth pointing out that when the original legacy system was built, much of the functionality had to be written in code by hand. Whether it's using packaged software or operating system functionality, we can reduce the amount of handwritten code, thus providing a much lower risk to modernization.
2. "Modernizing applications is costly." Some CIOs aren't aware of the return on investment (ROI) that modernization can produce. Many IT leaders erroneously assume modernization requires a complete rebuild to achieve strong ROI, and very often that isn't the case.
3. "This will cause operational disruption and my business cannot afford that risk." CIOs fear that the shaky application "house of cards" they've built might crumble if it's revamped. They worry about potential security flaws, system downtime, and exposure to technical failure.
Part of any modernization effort is the transitional planning, which has to be based on a thorough assessment of the current state. The better we know the current environment and its linkages to other application components, the lower the risk in the transition. Once again, going in blindly is exactly the wrong strategy.
Steps to a Smooth Modernization
With the software environments customers have today, modernizing isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. Unless the organization knows what must be done, and does it consciously, the change will have no meaningful effect. There are several key steps to consider when modernizing a company's legacy systems:
1. Take inventory: You've recognized that to achieve business goals, you need greater visibility into your application environment. The first step is to take an inventory of your applications - identify, analyze, and report on the status of the portfolio of applications in your environment.
2. Prioritize: To prioritize the application modernization project, CIOs should evaluate the existing architecture and constituent applications, review applications that may have differing characteristics, and examine historical and anecdotal information to determine the level of business value and technical quality of each application. Next, it's important to examine the potential costs and revenue impact of modernization for each application, and then rank and categorize each application as you discuss the best approach to take. Finally, identify those applications best poised for modernization and establish a target architecture.
3. Create a detailed action plan: Do a detailed analysis of the applications you've decided to modernize. This process focuses on specific applications and their underlying architecture - with a thorough examination of all the issues that affect three major tasks: 1.) existing application decomposability and cost impact on mining existing code; 2.) targeted application options including hardware, software, operating system, monitoring, management, and development; and 3.) incremental modernization strategy to move from the existing architecture to your target architecture, while allowing both to coexist during the transition.
4. Transition your apps: Once the roadmap is in place, the next step is to bring legacy applications up to today's performance standards while having a minimal impact on day-to-day business operations. These steps include re-engineering, re-hosting, replacing, retaining and retiring, as well as building, testing, and maintaining the new application environment.
5. Finally, it's important to implement management and support best practices to transition smoothly to the new operational environment.
Application Modernization Is a Must
Legacy systems stall innovation and are costly to maintain, but as any business professional knows, they run today's business. Modernizing applications isn't impossible if you plan properly. As a prerequisite for staying competitive in this global economy, IT modernization is a must-do for enterprises.
Companies are understandably concerned about the cost of modernizing its applications, the level of service during and after the move, and the possible exposure to technical failure. However, with proper planning and experience, it's possible to transition smoothly from legacy systems to an architecture that's more agile and responsive.
Enterprises should take an inventory of their application environment, and prioritize the most important and cost-effective applications. They can then analyze and determine the best course of action. Once a plan is in place, companies can begin the actual modernizing process through re-engineering, re-hosting, replacing, retaining, and retiring. Finally, a strong management and support system is key to a smooth transition.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
Mar. 23, 2017 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,401
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Mar. 23, 2017 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,296
In recent years, containers have taken the world by storm. Companies of all sizes and industries have realized the massive benefits of containers, such as unprecedented mobility, higher hardware utilization, and increased flexibility and agility; however, many containers today are non-persistent. Containers without persistence miss out on many benefits, and in many cases simply pass the responsibility of persistence onto other infrastructure, adding additional complexity.
Mar. 23, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,089
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
Mar. 23, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,380
Everyone wants to use containers, but monitoring containers is hard. New ephemeral architecture introduces new challenges in how monitoring tools need to monitor and visualize containers, so your team can make sense of everything. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, David Gildeh, co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, will go through the challenges and show there is light at the end of the tunnel if you use the right tools and understand what you need to be monitoring to successfully use containers in your...
Mar. 23, 2017 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,072
The IT industry is undergoing a significant evolution to keep up with cloud application demand. We see this happening as a mindset shift, from traditional IT teams to more well-rounded, cloud-focused job roles. The IT industry has become so cloud-minded that Gartner predicts that by 2020, this cloud shift will impact more than $1 trillion of global IT spending. This shift, however, has left some IT professionals feeling a little anxious about what lies ahead. The good news is that cloud computin...
Mar. 23, 2017 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 833
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,390
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,818
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership abi...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 10,668
Thanks to Docker and the DevOps revolution, microservices have emerged as the new way to build and deploy applications — and there are plenty of great reasons to embrace the microservices trend. If you are going to adopt microservices, you also have to understand that microservice architectures have many moving parts. When it comes to incident management, this presents an important difference between microservices and monolithic architectures. More moving parts mean more complexity to monitor an...
Mar. 23, 2017 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,229
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Mar. 23, 2017 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,453
Microservices (μServices) are a fascinating evolution of the Distributed Object Computing (DOC) paradigm. Initial design of DOC attempted to solve the problem of simplifying developing complex distributed applications by applying object-oriented design principles to disparate components operating across networked infrastructure. In this model, DOC “hid” the complexity of making this work from the developer regardless of the deployment architecture through the use of complex frameworks, such as C...
Mar. 23, 2017 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,023
As Enterprise business moves from Monoliths to Microservices, adoption and successful implementations of Microservices become more evident. The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Documenting hurdles and problems for the use of Microservices will help consultants, architects and specialists to avoid repeating the same mistakes and learn how and when to use (or not use) Microservices at the enterprise level. The circumstance w...
Mar. 22, 2017 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,080
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Mar. 22, 2017 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 8,288
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Mar. 22, 2017 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,708
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Mar. 22, 2017 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 7,239
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.
Mar. 22, 2017 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,780
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
Mar. 22, 2017 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,696
As software becomes more and more complex, we, as software developers, have been splitting up our code into smaller and smaller components. This is also true for the environment in which we run our code: going from bare metal, to VMs to the modern-day Cloud Native world of containers, schedulers and micro services. While we have figured out how to run containerized applications in the cloud using schedulers, we've yet to come up with a good solution to bridge the gap between getting your contain...
Mar. 21, 2017 10:15 PM EDT Reads: 7,222
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
Mar. 21, 2017 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,082