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Legacy modernization: A digital transformation
How to modernize your IT infrastructure
IT legacy modernization can be an open-ended journey to streamline process efficiency, improve business performance, and create new ways of serving customers. Fully automated migration uses technology to convert legacy code and data to modern platforms, allowing organizations to tackle modernization initiatives that align with business objectives.
Charting the right course
There are many paths toward IT legacy modernization, and each organization’s course will be guided by its strategic priorities. Many businesses opt to “rip and replace” legacy systems with a new system built from the ground up. Others may choose to custom-configure a new commercial off-the-shelf software solution or transfer technologies, processes, and people from an external provider.
These infrastructure modernization approaches may have their advantages, but they tend to be costly, risky, time-consuming, and disruptive to the organization. A more efficient option for achieving legacy modernization is fully automated migration, which uses refactoring technology to convert legacy code and data to modern platforms. It also enables organizations to incrementally tackle digital modernization without interrupting business operations.
In addition, fully automated digital migration allows organizations to pursue legacy modernization at their own pace. Refactoring a legacy application, for instance, can deliver “quick wins” by reducing potential risks and improving IT efficiencies.
For some businesses, refactoring alone delivers the right results. Others follow a more ambitious modernization course that builds on a refactoring approach to integrate new technologies and platforms.
Regardless of scope, refactoring revitalizes applications in ways that make the most of existing IT technologies while enabling businesses to invest in new, transformative digital capabilities. In other words, organizations can enhance IT operations and lower costs while building a modern platform for their future vision.
What's driving modernization
If there’s one overarching driver of application modernization, it’s the need for the flexibility and agility required to integrate IT technologies in a way that aligns with business demands. Mainframe-based legacy applications typically are incompatible with today’s flexible open-system platforms. As a result, organizations that use outmoded technology are often limited in addressing critical business needs, as well as seizing opportunities for future growth.
Other drivers include:
- High cost of maintaining legacy applications, systems, and infrastructure
- Shortage of employees skilled in legacy languages like COBOL and Natural
- Workers who expect on-the-job technologies will be equal to—or better than—what they have at home and in their pockets
Get to the future fast
Advances in code refactoring have made fully automated migration a faster, more accurate alternative to traditional custom reengineering or use of off-the-shelf software.
In fact, refactoring can speed migration because it typically requires no new definitions of system requirements and entails minimal end-user training. Modernization can be achieved without code freezes, allowing for ongoing reiterative improvements to legacy applications—with no disruption to operations.
The scope of refactoring
- User access: Users access applications with a web-based browser rather than a terminal.
- Presentation: User screens retain legacy look and functionality but are based on HTML5 for a rich user interface.
- Logic: The refactored Java-based solution can run on a variety of platforms, including Linux, Unix, Windows, and Cloud Native. The refactored Batch solution can be managed by schedule manager products.
- Interfaces: The refactored system continues to support legacy interfaces. The refactored functionality also helps reduce the risk of system interruption by precisely replicating the interface functionality and protocols.
- Database: The refactored solution supports a variety of modern relational database-management systems.
- Deployment: Organizations can deploy the refactored system on premise or on the cloud.
The mechanics of Transformation
The refactoring and migration process involves three key assets: User interface, business logic, and data. Deloitte’s Transformation solution comprises technology and business process tools needed for each step of the refactoring process. Unlike some other solutions, our Application Modernization powered by innoWakeTM suite offers end-to-end capabilities that allow clients to interact with a single vendor throughout the project.
One of the first steps in modernization is typically Discovery, an assessment that yields a full mapping of the organization’s current-state technical landscape. We also rationalize application portfolios and architectures to help plan the best modernization approach. Deloitte supports a range of deployment options, including a phased rollout, a pilot project, or a big-bang approach.
The migration tool converts each line of legacy language to corresponding Java, .NET, or Cloud Native, while preserving the functionality and interfaces of the existing application. We then migrate the legacy database to a database hosted on an open-system platform. Despite the new environment, the refactored application uses the same system logic, calculation methods, and controls as the legacy system. Consequently, the updated application will interact with data as it did in the legacy system.
Batch migration is an important aspect of any legacy transformation, and our products help streamline the process by executing JCL scripts or transforming them into Bash scripts, similar to how JES works on the mainframe. Our products also retain Batch tools like SORT, and help reduce risk and complexity.
After migration, all legacy developers typically have been trained in using the refactored code, integrated development environment (IDE), and Batch. Developers can view legacy code alongside the refactored Java and, for most, the Java language will be highly recognizable. What’s more, existing Java IT staff can maintain and support the new system, removing the need and expense for specialized legacy staff.
For end users, the refactored application has an updated, web-enabled look and feel, with functionality that is identical to the legacy system. This results in little-to-no impact on worker productivity or business operations.
The final step is cutover to the new system. After go-live, the new code base is in a modern language, data structures are normalized, and the user experience displays on Web-enabled screens.
At this point, IT no longer has to support older mainframes, which can save time, resources, and millions of dollars in annual operating costs. Additionally, the updated system is compatible with agile development and DevOps processes, which can help more efficiently support and build out a modern platform.
While there’s no standard timeline for Transformation, experience shows that our solution can create value approximately two years faster than alternative modernization methods.
It’s time to start
Application modernization doesn’t happen in a single moment. Instead, it’s a journey, an incremental process that will vary for each organization and may include implementing technologies, such as cloud, mobility, advanced analytics, and cybersecurity. Legacy modernization is an iterative approach that enables you to transform your IT ecosystem based on current and future business needs and build a flexible foundation for future innovation.
Deloitte’s Application Modernization team can help define the scope of your legacy modernization project and create an implementation roadmap based on your priorities. Our gradual, low-risk approach focuses on core system improvements rather than reinventing what already works.
Legacy modernization, start anywhere.