Application Modernization Tops IT Agenda

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Business Drivers for IT Innovation

In cost containment, after an IT organization has done the comparatively easy stuff, the question quickly becomes what to do next.

When it comes to cutting IT costs, the fact of the matter is that most of the easy things, such as consolidating file servers, have already been done.

Now IT organizations are being asked to take on the hard stuff, which in most cases means either replacing existing applications with new less costly ones or upgrading their existing applications to make them more cost-efficient to run.

Given all the issues associated with end-user training and resistance to rewriting existing business logic and related application code, finding ways of running existing applications on systems that are less costly seems to be emerging as the preferred method for substantially reducing IT costs.

In fact, a survey of 250 worldwide senior IT executives conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Micro Focus finds that 58 percent said the best way to cut IT costs was to modernize or migrate their existing applications to a lower-cost IT infrastructure.

In some cases, that may mean cloud computing, but in just as many cases, it means parsing an application that runs on a mainframe into more modular components that can then run more efficiently and effectively on a lower-cost server platform.

According to Ken Powell, president for North American operations for Micro Focus, many more IT organizations following the most recent economic downturn are open to migrating applications to gain lasting cost reductions in IT, even though they know that such projects may take one or two years to complete. But without making those changes, additional cost cuts are going to be hard to come by when, for example, every server is already loaded to the brim with virtual machine software.

Powell adds that more often than not, application code written in COBOL some 20 years ago can be revamped in a way that not only consumes less resources, but also winds up running faster. IBM's mainframe group, of course, takes issue with any claim that says the other platforms are less expensive than the mainframe. But pressure to be seen doing something about the cost of enterprise computing is driving a lot more interest in application modernization.

Any project that involves developers is going to take time to come to fruition. But IT leaders are under enormous pressure to make substantial cuts to IT budgets that consume huge amounts of scarce capital. And in that type of economic climate, the case for application modernization and migration gets a whole lot more compelling.