Philip Newcomb, CEO of The Software Revolution, Inc. (TSRI) explains why organizations continue to choose the wrong software modernization approach – to their peril.
“The demands for agile and nimble systems now being placed on resource-constrained organizations are immense, and these ‘ancient software dinosaurs’ just can’t keep up”
So enough already! Enough of wasting money and time on misguided and poorly executed approaches to legacy modernization. With the Object Management Group laying out a clear body of standards and conformant tools that have been proven out time and again, why do organizations continue to waste hundreds of millions of shareholder and taxpayer dollars on the wrong software modernization approach? The answer is sad, but quite simple: They are making decisions based on bad information.
Executives know that historically, modernization projects are odds on bets to fail. Forrester estimated only 18 months ago that 63% of these projects failed. Worse yet, not only did so many fail, but they often left the organization far worse off than before the project started. Conventional wisdom has it that it is safer to continue to maintain an outdated system than bet on modernization with likely failure ahead. Those tough lessons of the past are hard to shake, but thankfully they don't apply today. Executives in all sectors of the economy are waking to the stark realization that legacy systems can no longer be ignored. The demands for agile and nimble systems now being placed on resource-constrained organizations are immense, and these 'ancient software dinosaurs' just can't keep up.
The Secrets to Success
The secrets to success are simple: The modernization process must be architecture-driven and fully automated. Employ these fully proven techniques and tools and your success is guaranteed and odds of project failure approach zero.
Large legacy systems are mind bogglingly complex, with hundreds of thousands and often millions of lines of code driving highly sophisticated - and mission-critical functionality. Tasking rooms full of software engineers to manually convert these enormous systems is a fool's errand that takes years and produces buggy and slow running code. And the cost! Do the math on 300 software engineers in a room for four years trying to convert a million line system and ending up with no usable result. This scenario was a sad reality for one client before they resorted to a fully automated solution.
Yet news of repeated successful outcomes has yet to reach the ears of many C-level executives many of whom still assume that automated solutions are not sophisticated enough to handle their complex systems. And unfortunately, many industry pundits continue to preach that fully automated transformation is not even possible and still mistakenly expound upon the need for manual solutions or manual/semi-automated solutions. It is high time for the word to get out! Full automation has arrived. It is not only possible, but it is being used routinely to transform enormously large and complicated software programs with results that are error free, far higher quality than humans could ever produce, and completed with unheard of schedule compression.
The Secret Sauce
If full automation is the engine, architecture-driven solutions are the "secret sauce" of successful modernization. Clearly and completely capturing a roadmap of the entire process and all code and design from starting-to-finished product are critical steps in ensuring that the mission-critical functionality of the original system is preserved during its automated transformation.
Yes, the most efficient and error free way to accomplish this is with a fully automated 'Transformation Blueprint' of the entire end-to-end solution. Remarkably not only is the code transformed, but the entire design and process is fully automated too. And, this approach has proven reliable on dozens of million line plus systems, generating clear roadmaps to the completed final documented transformed systems, over and over again from the outset of the project.
Published case studies, such as those in William Ulrich's and my book Information System Modernization: Architecture-Driven Modernization Case Studies, give broad examples of these approaches and can be used as guide posts for specifying solutions. They cover a variety of industry sectors including insurance, banking and finance, defense, private and public sector healthcare, education, tourism and travel, energy and geophysical services, civilian federal government, air traffic control, and retail.
Using architecture-driven modernization, many huge and complex mission-critical information systems, whose modernization could not have been attempted just a few years ago, can now be modernized affordably and in astonishingly shortened time frames. Due to significantly improved hardware capacity and new technology innovations, information system transformation is now being applied routinely on an unprecedented scale using repeatable, perfective, adaptive processes in conformance with OMG best practices.
With news of the extraordinary successes of architecture-driven modernization projects spreading, the message conveyed is becoming crystal clear. Automated modernization has become a proven commodity. Architecture-driven modernization is now playing a strategic role in building agility and competitive advantage for a growing number of organizations and industries. The realization is dawning that modernization should no longer be regarded as a one-time fix to deal with a one-time legacy problem. To ensure their IT infrastructures are perpetually agile and support rapid enactment of business strategies, organizations are learning they must adopt continuous modernization as a vehicle for future competitiveness.
Applying modernization options to existing software systems is no longer just a tactical luxury or last gasp measure. For many organizations continuous modernization is now an essential and strategic necessity for competitive survival. Architecture-driven modernization has emerged just in time to provide enterprises with a wide variety of options for understanding, evolving and ultimately transforming critical software assets. While modernization has long been regarded as a cost to be avoided, the advent of architecture driven-modernization creates a vast array of new options for executives considering the best way to revitalize their IT architectures.
The convergence of customizable automated software transformation and architecture-driven modernization is producing exciting results. By actually building upon the value of legacy systems as assets, today executives are embracing vastly expanded strategies to build agile and competitive enterprises.
For more information, visit www.tsri.com.