Can we really move our legacy systems to the cloud ?

The purpose of this brief article is to get you thinking, in concrete ways, about taking some of what you already have, so called legacy applications, and making them available in the cloud. Is it really possible to take Legacy systems and move them to the cloud? Companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in building their legacy systems. Can they move them to the cloud? Can an insurance company for example take its core insurance system and move it to the cloud? The answer is no. There is no simple way to take a Mainframe, AS400, SAP or any other on premises system to the cloud, but there are other ways that can achieve the same goal.

How to Get There?

We do not need to move the complete system. We can create in the cloud a presentation of the functionality that exists in the legacy system. We call it API.

We can take every legacy routine or a combination of routines and using new modern technologies generate a program in the cloud that is acting as a proxy, a bridge, between the new world and the old world.

The new program will be written in modern technology such as Java or .NET. It will be deployed as a micro service and it will enjoy all that the cloud has to offer.

It is easy to monitor and manage. Now when we want to execute some functionality in the legacy system we can call its presentation in the cloud. The collection of all the these modern programs is also known as Digital Layer and the transformation from Legacy programs to “modern programs” is also known as going digital.

One way to get there is microservices that is a style or way of organizing applications. It used to be that applications were monoliths, big chunks of code that was hard to change. Today, you organize the programs in smaller units that communicate with each other as needed. This arrangement is very dynamic and this supports frequent changes that are often needed to refresh applications.

Why does that matter?

There is a tremendous interest in digital transformation, a new way to do things. It has touched so many lives in useful ways. Here is an example — paying bills through a financial services company. New and better? Yes, no more writing checks, buying stamps, riding to the post office. Do it through the web and often it’s free to use the services of your financial institution. That is digital transformation. Also, depositing checks by using a bank application that takes a picture of the check. There is no need to go to the bank to deposit it. The picture of the check does it. That is digital transformation.

There is also great attention being paid to Cloud services, new environments to run applications. This is important because the cloud services are low cost and flexible with the ability to scale up and scale down to meet the needs of the applications that are running there. This low cost and flexibility is something special and the marketplace are responding to it.

How to Start?

Start with the elements you already have like COBOL programs and copybooks and transactions. Modern tools for digital transformation, like OpenLegacy, use these application elements to discover what they need to bring these legacy transactions and their data into a digital-friendly environment. The modern tools also use other components that facilitate connection to the legacy environment like CICS and IMS connectors.

What if I Want to Enhance the Legacy?

No Problem. If you want to make changes to the new digital form of the legacy transaction, you can make those changes in the microservice that you have created. This is often easier that changing the COBOL application itself. With OpenLegacy, the program that is created to create the digital service is generated in Java which is a popular and powerful modern language.

Is it That Easy?

It all depends on the tools you use to get there. And, of course it is more than just tools. You need a method or way of approaching the process and you need to learn some new techniques involving Java and APIs to support digital transformation like REST.

What’s Next?

This article is the first in a series. In the articles that follow, I will explore topics introduced in the article in more detail. The next article will explore microservice in more detail.