Once a cutting edge and golden standard of technology, legacy-based monolithic applications have become a big burden for many organizations. While pivotal in supporting business functions, they have and will continue to lose the flexibility and overall usability required to be successful in today’s competitive digital and agile business landscape.
But for most businesses, and especially the Fortune 1000s, looking to streamline their services and improve overall functionality, the prospect of breaking away from these systems is often seen as a double-edged sword. Ridding themselves of brittle, complex and tightly integrated technology, on one hand, can provide the right environment to introduce newer software. This can help elevate their businesses to be nimbler, more innovative and productive, ultimately driving better experiences and increased revenue. On the other hand, though, maintaining them can be viewed as the safer option that doesn’t include the fear of lost business intelligence, downtime for consumers and the biggest of all, an exorbitant cost that they simply can’t justify.
What’s important for them to realize is these modernization efforts don’t always require a complete overhaul or significant downtime to operations from rearchitecting or reengineering their applications. In fact, any organization in need of change can choose from a variety of alternative modernization processes that best suit their needs.
Below is a closer look at those opportunities and success stories from BBVA, Companies House and MTA after implementation.
With many large financial institutions, for instance, they are often running mission-critical applications and processes on their legacy systems that reduce their ability to meet the demand of modern business processes. As they look to reduce costs, enable data and business process integration to better navigate an increasingly global banking landscape, legacy modernization is top of mind. To make necessary changes and continue business as usual, one of the best strategies could be automated conversion.
By utilizing the necessary tools, an organization can produce a revitalized version of their legacy system in a new environment in a modern code, such as Java or C#. Through this process, once an application and/or database is translated, developers are uniquely positioned to maintain business logic from their legacy system while extending application functionality and enabling enhanced integration capabilities for target databases. Because this approach is software-based, this modernization strategy is significantly less costly and can be completed in steps to minimize any interruption to business.
In the case of BBVA, the second largest bank in Spain that operates in over 40 countries, the organization needed to reduce licensing costs of its mainframe and enhance its features, simultaneously freeing data trapped within its legacy system to enable these global operations. By pursuing an automated conversion to its systems, the bank was able to convert its code while taking total technical inventory, identifying key risk factors in its mainframe and ultimately removing significant amounts of dead code and approximately 38% of its programs.
As a result of the reduced cost of its mainframe operations, the company achieved positive ROI of their transformation strategy within two years.
Fully rewriting applications can be time consuming, costly and risky, with the potential loss of vital information and processes. An alternative option to keep the legacy system fully intact while freeing essential data from its mainframe is data replication.
Data replication allows an organization to replicate its mainframe and non-relational data through an entirely new, relational model. This allows the legacy system to continue with its standard functions, but automatically copy and convert data to the new model with a full replica of the legacy database, enabling greater visibility and flexibility for a business.
This process was especially effective for Companies House, Britain’s government bureau that records and stores information on the country’s 1.8 million unique companies. Since the organization requires daily data updates because of the need for public access to this information, the organization couldn’t afford any downtime while modernizing. By replicating its data onto a relational model, the company was not only able to more seamlessly integrate its code into its target database, but more easily manage daily updates to its data–ultimately resulting in faster service for consumers and significantly reduced costs for the company.
Many legacy systems remain fully intact today because of their incredible ability to process vast amounts of data in a reliable and effective fashion. That said, as the amount of information within the system grows, so do the costs of maintaining these systems. For organizations with limited IT budgets and resources, the ideal approach lies in batch offloading.
Batch offloading is often an easy first step in a modernization effort. This process requires an organization to convert one or more batch process applications to modern programming languages. By moving some of these processes off of the mainframe, organizations can future-proof their processes, maintain greater flexibility and reduce costs. These savings can also trickle down to the consumer, giving these organizations an edge against their competitors.
For New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the organization aimed to move critical applications off its legacy mainframe to make way for refreshed, cost-effective platforms. By undertaking the batch offloading strategy, the MTA continued without any interruption or significant changes to its mainframe’s processes for users. The organization was able to reduce the costs from maintaining its legacy system and prepare for the next steps in its broader modernization strategy.
Choosing the Right Approach
A business doesn’t have to be a member of the Fortune 1000 in order to successfully execute a modernization project like one. By developing a strong understanding of the functions of current systems, the risks associated with maintaining it, organizational needs and a realistic timeline for transformation efforts, a company can uniquely position itself to make significant changes to operations without interruptions to business.
While this transition is a significant undertaking for any organization, it’s up to them to identify the best modernization strategy for its goals in order to reduce costs, improve the customer experience and future-proof their processes to achieve overall success.