Modern Approach to Legacy App Migration

In this day and age, it is hard to believe that there are still thousands of legacy applications that are indispensable to running today’s businesses. By this, I mean not just “Green Screen” mainframe applications (which you can bet they are still around), but also many more applications built around legacy technologies. They include applications built on Foxpro, Lotus Notes, COBOL, RPG programs to name just a few. Many of these applications make up “Core Systems” in Enterprises today. These are in turn, connected to many more internal and external portfolio of applications. Such applications and their outdated data models are supported by a patchwork of changes to meet evolving business needs.

It has become clear to Enterprises, the real solution is to look at modern technology alternatives to replace and modernize their legacy applications. Enterprises have started to take an inventory of all their applications and databases that are ready for “Legacy App Migration”.

Standard Legacy App Migration

The standard approach to migration goes along these lines:

  • IT Department decides on a target architecture (3-tier, web-based, micro-services, open source technologies)
  • The key stakeholders from business and IT, call service vendors for evaluation of best approaches for project execution
  • In a more formal setup, a RFP is issued to multiple vendors and they are shortlisted via a bidding and evaluation process
  • Finally, a service vendor is selected for turnkey legacy app migration

In this process, the end result for an Enterprise is the completion of their turnkey project. But this project execution comes at a very high cost (budget-wise) and the execution time is much longer (typically service vendors take such projects on a “Time and Material” basis and have very little incentive to complete projects on time since the customer takes all the risks). The other downside to this approach is its inflexibility with future changes and enhancements. Typically those changes would have to go through additional approvals via a change management process.

Modern Approach to Legacy App Migration

The modern approach to migration would look very different. Here are some of the key activities in this approach:

  • Key stakeholder from Business and IT would invite Low-code platform vendors with strong Professional Services and offshore teams (to keep costs down)
  • Evaluation of vendors is done with a Proof of Concept execution and technology discussions with Low-code vendors. PoC should be executed by vendors in 2–3 weeks (not months)
  • Finally, the selected Low-code vendor is engaged for turnkey execution based on successful completion of PoC and their estimates for a fixed-bid and fixed-time project execution

With such a modern approach to Legacy App Migration the end results would look very different. Let us take a closer look:

  • Project gets fully executed on a Low-code platform. The Low-code platform offers a visual development environment for building applications
  • Agile methodology results in faster execution with continuous delivery of the project (iterative development and deployment instead of a big-bang release)
  • Costs are considerably lower with use of standard components and resulting lower QA that need to be done on the completed application
  • Future changes and enhancements are much easier as the platform offer a visual approach to changing and adding new capabilities and changing existing workflows
  • Older data models are updated and API layer added to allow collaboration with other teams and improves maintainability of the new code base
  • Overall savings in cost, time and predicted delivery of milestones and final project

Being Standard or Being Modern?

There is a reason applications have become “Legacy”. It takes a lot of fortitude, planning and executive sponsorship for a successful migration. For those willing to take this path, it would be worth their time to consider the modern approach to Legacy App Migration. It is not just the budget and time that is at stake, the very execution and long term maintenance of these projects would be on the line when “total costs” are not fully factored in during the initial decision process. The modern approach to Legacy App Migration takes care of these factors. The choice is between being Standard and being Modern.