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“Legacy is a term people use to refer to an application that is old and antiquated. What they usually leave out is the positive attributes: They’re here and they work and they’ve worked for quite some time,” says Gartner Research Director Dale Vecchio.

“Rather than taking the approach that mainframes are all ugly and dead and we’re going to get off of them,” Vecchio asserts, it could only benefit businesses to give legacy apps a reprieve. So, “How do I take these functional working applications and how do I move them forward to meet functional demands that are different from when those applications were built?”

During the ebizQ webinar Getting the Most From Your Host, Today and Tomorrow, part of the Evolution of Host Integration Systems series, sponsored by WRQ, Vecchio and WRQ Marketing Vice President Chris Rogers answered that very question. They showed how continual reuse -- culminating in Web services-driven, service-oriented architectures -- enables legacy apps to cost-effectively meet current and future business needs.

“First and foremost, you have to understand the number of applications you have and how they all fit together,” said Vecchio, who advocated a method for getting that grasp that Gartner calls “application portfolio management.”

He described what Gartner dubs “utility” legacy apps (the basic ones that “run the railroad, if you will” and usually make up two-thirds of that portfolio), “enhancement” apps (those that add a significant enhancement function to a business), and “frontier” apps, which “blow the doors off the industry” by doing things differently.

“On many occasions,” Vecchio noted, “what organizations need to do is take advantage of internal applications and concentrate on a new external focus.”

The expensive packaged apps purchased in the high-flying late ’90s to deal with such things as the Internet and Y2K no longer fit that bill, so enterprises can look back to the future by leveraging legacy apps.

Vecchio outlined approaches ranging from using relatively simple Web-to-Host functionality, such as terminal emulators, to presentation and programmatic integration servers for process integration, to “combinations of traditional application severs and integration brokers into one very sophisticated and much stronger run-time environment” that Gartner refers to as an application platform suite.


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