How to Visually Dissect Legacy Applications

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The Case for Application Modernization

In IT, the symptoms are the proliferation of servers and storage systems. The actual disease is all the applications that the IT organization is trying to support.

Application modernization is not an all-or-nothing proposition. When it comes to legacy application software, it turns out that not only is there a lot of duplicate code, but a lot of functions are better handled by a packaged piece of middleware. In fact, you might find 60 percent of the code running on a mainframe, for example, could be eliminated or replaced by middleware running on a less-expensive platform.

This doesn't necessarily mean that all legacy application code should be replaced. Most of the business logic in, for example, a COBOL application running on a mainframe might be more trouble than it is worth to rewrite. But IT organizations should take a hard look at exactly what type of code is running where on their mainframes because chances are that more than half of it isn't really necessary.

To help address this issue, Hewlett-Packard has created a series of visual intelligence tools that identify duplicate code, then automatically identifies code by function. According to Steve Woods, a modernization strategist and distinguished software engineer for HP, many IT organizations struggle with legacy code on a mainframe because they lack visibility into how any given application is constructed. Without that visibility, the IT organization can't really determine which code is redundant, which is obsolete and which still adds value.



Woods also notes that many of these issues apply not only to COBOL, but to systems written in comparatively newer languages such as Java. Woods says that in recent years we've seen a renaissance in programming languages that provide massive gains in developer productivity by allowing them to create applications using fewer lines of code than ever.

HP has developed a nine-step program, dubbed the Applications Modernization Transformation Experience, to help companies identify ways to save money. It takes customers through a structured process to first identify their application portfolio, the business processes they support and the data center systems that support them. That program, which amounts to group therapy for the IT department, is intended to help customers put aside various technology and business biases to accomplish application modernization goals at a time when interest in these types of projects is at an all-time high.

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