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Integration on the Edge: Data Explosion & Next-Gen Integration

Hollis Tibbetts

Legacy Modernization, Integration & Agility

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The classic "CIO's Dilemma" is to hold down costs while simultaneously investing in innovation for the future - a bit like trying to fly the airplane while refitting it at the same time.

Most organizations can only invest 20-25% on average of their IT budgets in new development or innovation because of the costs of "keeping the airplane flying".

Legacy Burden

Larger enterprises typically spend over 75% of their IT budgets on maintaining and supporting legacy applications - many of which have been in service since before the Y2K crisis hit us.

These legacy applications are critical for running the business - yet they're are monolithic, gigantic, brittle, expensive to maintain, nearly impossible to change...the very opposite of "the agile enterprise".

Fixing this legacy problem is one of the very top IT priorities: Some 59% of IT leaders place it as their top software issue according to Forrester Consulting.

Legacy - Not Just Mainframe Applications

These legacy applications in desperate need of modernization aren't just monster COBOL or 4GL (like Natural) programs on some IBM Z-Series mainframe.

They are also often old Client/Server legacy applications, old customized ERP legacy systems, or even first generation Web applications.

They could even be badly-written C/C++ programs running on increasingly cost-inefficient systems like Sun Solaris, or other Unix RISC-based systems.

What is Legacy Modernization?

Legacy Modernization comes in many flavors. It differs from "Legacy Rehosting" (which is essentially the movement of existing code from a Mainframe and recompiling it to run on a "simulator" running on inexpensive Intel hardware).legacy_modernization.jpg

Legacy Modernization at its core involves:

1) An assessment of the current application's structure and functionality

2) Decisions on which "parts" to keep, which parts to re-write, which parts to replace with off-the-shelf software

3) What kinds of new functionality should be added in to the mix (typically via purchase of new SaaS or On-Premises software)

4) Decisions on which platforms to leverage

5) Determination of how to "connect" all the pieces together - the new pieces as well as the existing pieces of software in the enterprise.

Why Do Legacy Modernization?

I used to believe that most organizations were interested in modernizing their legacy applications simply because old systems are a pain to manage, change and extend. By "pain", I mean exceedingly costly and difficult.

I was wrong. Certainly cost is an issue - because these old legacy systems are exceedingly costly. Just maintaining the proprietary hardware/software environments that they run on is a fortune.

But the majority of CIOs who are doing legacy modernization (or planning to modernize legacy applications) are doing so "to support the business".

Yup. To create an agile IT infrastructure that will allow them to rapidly and cost-effectively respond to business change.

Agility Example

If my company acquires several new smaller companies each year, how do I integrate these new organizations into my existing operational systems...if my existing systems are some impenetrable piles of legacy code?

This was a question the CIO of a multi-billion dollar enterprise discussed with me recently. This CIO has an "agility" problem that he's trying to solve. He needs legacy modernization..and integration.

Legacy Modernization Creates Integration Issues

By doing a functional analysis of these legacy mega-applications, by rewriting some components in modern languages like Java, leveraging Cloud (public or private) technologies, inexpensive on-premises Intel platforms, and purchasing Off the Shelf software packages (on-premises or SaaS), organizations can save a tremendous amount of money, and enable a huge leap forward in IT's ability to support the organization.

Yet none of this legacy modernization can happen without Integration technology.

Why is Integration Required for Legacy Modernization?

When you take a legacy mega-application and de-compose it into many different pieces - newly written applications, various purchased or licensed applications, etc., you end up with business processes which span multiple applications, and almost certainly multiple systems.

And you still have to connect all these newly-purchased and newly-written systems BACK into the existing corporate applications and data!

Integration is Number 1 Priority for Legacy Modernization

In a 2011 survey done by NexaWeb, the four top reasons for modernization of legacy applications were (in order) to:

1) Facilitate integration with other applications in their portfolio
2) Reduce maintenance costs
3) Meet user change requests faster
4) Eliminate unsupported hardware and software.

Facilitating integration is another way of saying "flexible, agile & cost-effective solution to business problems by automating business processes across application silos".

Reducing maintenance costs (#2) and eliminating unsupported hardware and software (#4) frees up people and budget that can be repurposed within IT to provide better support for the business.

Gartner Research on Legacy Modernization and Integration

To quote Gartner Research VP and Gartner Distinguished Analyst Kimberly Harris-Ferrante on the topic of Legacy Modernization and Integration, "companies run multiple systems and simply replacing one application...creates integration nightmares."

Solving integration nightmares? That's what modern services-based Integration Platforms do. Integration Software - don't do Legacy Modernization without it....

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This blog offers an informed and informative perspective on the ongoing explosion of data and the technologies used to turn this data explosion into assets and competitive advantages.

Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis has established himself as a successful software marketing and technology expert. His various strategy, marketing and technology articles are read nearly 50,000 times a month. He is currently Director for Global Marketing Operations for Dell Software Group. Hollis has developed substantial expertise in middleware, SaaS, Cloud, data management and distributed application technologies, with over 20 years experience in marketing, technical, product management, product marketing and business development roles at leading companies in such as Pervasive, Aruna (acquired by Progress Software), Sybase (now SAP), webMethods (now Software AG), M7 Corporation (acquired by BEA/Oracle), OnDisplay (acquired by Vignette) and KIVA Software (acquired by Netscape). He has established himself as an industry expert, having authored a large number of technology white papers, as well as published media articles and book contributions. Hollis is a top-ranked author on Sys-Con media, is also published on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on creating great software: Software Marketing 2013. He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

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