According to Gartner, in order to thrive in this digital business transformation journey and to stay ahead of new demands, IT needs agility and velocity.
In order to achieve this, the application organisation needs to go into a continuous delivery mode. However, legacy applications which are part of the value chain often introduce impediments and delays, impacting processes negatively.
Many organisations may think that in order to move forward, legacy applications need to be ripped out and replaced.
In fact, for many years, analysts like Gartner have been supporting this notion, telling customers to rip and replace legacy applications – so much so that it has become the standard byline for the last decade.
When looking at changing market dynamics, the problem with rip and replace is that companies simply don’t have time for that approach, as it requires companies to, stop everything for a minimum of 2 – 4 years and focus on rewriting an application that’s already delivering business value.
Besides being time-consuming and essentially halting all business practices, it’s also quite expensive to rip and replace an entire application.
Thankfully, analysts have changed their tune, and are now encouraging customers to modernise their existing applications instead – something Micro Focus has been talking about for the last 30 years.
“Legacy application portfolios are often viewed as a problem and subjected to large-scale rip and replace efforts. Application leaders should instead manage their portfolio as an asset, removing impediments and executing continuous business-driven modernisation to provide optimal value,” said Gartner analysts, Stefan Van Der Zijden and Thomas James Klinect.
Embarking on an application modernisation journey
According to Micro Focus South Africa Country General Manager Gary de Menezes, 65% of the world’s transactions are still in COBOL – the only computer language that is stable enough, and able to handle the number of transactions that financial companies require – which is another reason why rip and replace is not feasible for legacy applications anymore.
Over the last ten years Micro Focus has invested heavily in COBOL R&D with the aim of providing a fluid transition to modernisation for its COBOL customers. The customers have said that Micro Focus has taken their legacy technology and made it look like a brand-new application without changing the heart – which is still COBOL.
This also means that while a company is still bringing out new functionality and products in its legacy application, if that application is modernised, it can seamlessly move to the cloud.
In in the last year, Micro Focus has formed very strong partnerships with Microsoft as well as with AWS, because of their ability to help the customer take workloads off the mainframe and put them into the cloud, said de Menezes.
“We’re the only vendor that has all the tools to do everything for this journey, which is why the relationship is actually becoming so strong. And we have seen a major demand in customers who want to move their dev and test environments off the mainframe and into the cloud,” said de Menezes.
Another reason why rip and replace was justified for all those years, was because companies thought only one or two releases on your legacy application were possible per annum. However, those inhibiting factors have now also been taken away, allowing companies to develop, test, and deploy continuously, as the technologies to do so are now available.
A few examples that come to mind are Sage and Syspro, who have successfully deployed all sorts of applications through modernisation – without replacing a thing.
What has also changed the sentiment of customers is the increasing cost structures. Customers today are probably dealing with a growth in transaction, but not seeing the same growth in revenue streams, as these new channels to their customers are released.
Each of these clients are looking for ways to save costs, something that is impossible by ripping and replacing within an acceptable time frame. Instead, they can take things like Dev and Test off the mainframe, which is arguably the most expensive item on any IT budget in this country.
Previously, the only options customers had in order to keep mainframe expenses from growing were to rewrite or keep the applications. Now, with application modernisation available, customers can keep running production on their existing mainframe while saving up to 60% of their costs.
By investing in Micro Focus COBOL solutions, trusted COBOL applications can be safely extended to support modern business models in the same way as Java and C# solutions, using the same Visual Studio or Eclipse frameworks.
With modern methods and Application Programming Interfaces (API’s), and the ability to create native binary code for most popular hardware platforms and managed environments, it is easier than ever to take the least risk, shortest time to value approach of modernizing and porting proven COBOL applications.
For more information, download the Gartner report.
This article was published in partnership with Micro Focus.