Enterprise Application Modernization: Key focus areas

Application Modernization

This is the migration of legacy applications to new systems, applications, or platforms, perhaps integrating new functionality to older systems. Organizations modernize applications for many reasons; widening access scenarios, a digitalization requirement, or moving to a new IT infrastructure or API-based architecture. Whatever the reasons, modernized legacy systems must operate in sync with other application systems using, for example, Java or .NET.

Application modernization is a strategic decision factoring in organizational needs, priorities and budgets. Considerations include modernizing the application experience and access method and driving create new workflows around the application through integration and automation.

They may modernize the application code itself with analytical tools to increase programmer productivity, and improve performance. Modernizing dev, test, and production methods and platforms, either for individual applications or as part of a composite application, while leveraging new business models with COBOL investments is another thought.

IT Process Modernization

DevOps and Agile IT processes have improved application development, but the software development lifecycle for host-based application can still be slower than other platforms’ pace, especially when applications must be integrated. This requires application delivery process modernization.

Using DevOps and Agile to improve application development has significantly and positively impacted =the application development process. Nevertheless, the software development lifecycle for host-based applications can still be out of sync with the platforms with which these applications need to integrate.

This has resulted in a de facto hybrid approach to application delivery. Organizations need to extend the advantages, such as delivering applications ‘at the speed of business’, to all applications, whatever their value or platform.

Infrastructure Modernization

For infrastructure modernization to succeed, organizations must prioritize the application host platforms in terms of development, test, and production; whether it is a large host system, a distributed environment, the Cloud, or hybrid.

Organizations doing so can implement fit-for-purpose infrastructure to support traditional and new applications, whether current, Cloud-native, or next-generation applications. Additionally, Infrastructure modernization requires an organization to establish strong security for applications and data.

The IDC white paper Modernization: A Flexible Approach to Digital Transformation is clear; “With end-user platform refreshes running at a cycle of once every 3–5 years, an organization’s delivery platform of choice can be up for renewal at any given time. Large host systems such as mainframes may have a life span of 10–20 years. But oftentimes, the applications they support continue to outlive multiple platform refreshes. [So] there is a constant, cyclical re-evaluation of a business’ core systems — the applications and the platforms upon which these applications are developed, tested, and deployed.”

The Move to the Cloud

Modernizing applications, IT processes, or infrastructure, is a good time to evaluate their potential need to move to the Cloud. This Forrester report on Cloud adoption and modernization opines that, “Moving a core business application to a generic Cloud platform isn’t a pain-free sourcing change.

“Many applications can experience performance degradation, but organizations with existing technology management operations simply cannot start from scratch and rewrite everything for the Cloud. The more intensive the adjustment requirements, the more cost-intensive the move …will be.

“Organizations must devise a strategy for evaluating candidate apps —determining what, if any, changes should be applied to ensure the move is successful and the performance and cost balance is met”. Additionally, Forrester hosted a webinar with Micro Focus on this topic, Exploring Complexities to Cloud Migration & Modernization.


Digital Transformation and Micro Focus

Micro Focus enables modernization and digital transformation through a broad solution portfolio, characterized in this IDC white paper as “a holistic view of the whole application.” This is the idea that the application includes both the code, the access experience, and importantly, security.

“[The] Micro Focus perspective is that customers can approach modernization in [different] ways, incrementally, and with or without the need to change the underlying code — all depending on the level of modernization required as dictated by business requirements and priorities.”

The Micro Focus solution portfolio supports a successful modernization strategy in different ways:

Mainframe and COBOL

Back to IDC; “[The] Micro Focus COBOL and mainframe product portfolio … provide[s] support across the application delivery lifecycle, and while it can … be deployed as a holistic solution, it comprises products designed specifically for the key technical phases involved.”

The technologies in this portfolio include; analyzer technology (Enterprise Analyzer and COBOL Analyzer), development technology (Enterprise Developer and Visual COBOL), flexible mainframe testing technology (Enterprise Test Server), deployment technology (COBOL Server and Enterprise Server), and application delivery management and control technology (ChangeMan ZMF and Enterprise Sync).

Host Connectivity

Micro Focus organizes its Host Connectivity portfolio into three groups of solutions: access, integration, and management and security. These solutions include Reflection, InfoConnect, Rumba+, Extra!, Verastream, Databridge, Reflection for Secure IT, Host Access for the Cloud (formerly ZFE), and Host Access Management and Security (MSS).

To quote IDC again “Micro Focus solutions for accessing host applications have long since moved beyond the origins of ‘terminal emulation.’ It is now about modernizing application access from user experience, security, and data protection perspectives

“The Micro Focus Host Connectivity portfolio … is about modernizing and connecting core, business-critical applications to the rest of the organization, instead of replacing them, to create new value such as through digital transformation.”

In summary

To wrap up all three posts, let’s summarize the advice from Gartner, Forrester, and IDC about these modernization trends based on other organizations’ experiences. In Use Continuous Modernization to Build Digital Platforms from Legacy Applications, Gartner states “application leaders responsible for a strategy to build a digital business platform should exploit and extend the value of [their] legacy applications by removing obstacles, rather than viewing and treating those applications as a problem”. On a similar note, the Forrester report Exploring the Complexities of Cloud Migration and App Modernization opined that to keep pace with technology adoption, organizations must “consider how they manage transfer/move activities. Technology and business leaders must be laser-focused on what they want to achieve and remember to align business systems to the business strategy”.

So there seems to be a clear theme of making more of what an organization has now and aligning it with what they will need in the future.

IDC sum it up in their white paper Modernization: A Flexible Approach to Digital Transformation, acknowledging the “shift from a ‘rip and replace’ approach toward modernization strategies that are aimed at gaining significant business value in the form of agility, new business capabilities, and a reduction in TCO and risk.”

Why this matter:

Assistance on the journey to digital transformation comes in two strands.

There are the analysts who offer guidance on modernization, while the Micro Focus portfolio of mainframe and COBOL solutions provide support across the application delivery lifecycle, while the host connectivity solutions give access to the mainframe, while providing security and data protection.

These solutions align with that guidance to offer organizations a way to modernize applications, IT infrastructure and processes, while maintaining access to legacy applications.