Chris Gaskin is a Solution Director responsible for Fujitsu's Legacy Modernisation offering on a global basis.

In today’s throwaway society we often assume that when something is a few years old we need to replace it with a new one. This is certainly the case for many technology items such as mobile phones and laptops where we replace them every few years with the latest technology. But in the case of large enterprise applications there is too much development time and effort invested to even think about replacement. Often the core business logic of the application is sound, but as time moves on improvements are needed to take advantage of new developments, to meet the current needs of a business.

So what do you do when your mission-critical enterprise applications need an update?

The question sounds like it is crying out for a nice long technical answer full of jargon and complicated diagrams.

But let’s first look at WHY you may need to update.

In our experience the main reason for considering the modernization or even migration of some of legacy applications is business enablement.  Of course there are times when a technology is at end of life in a mission critical application that the business case for modernization is strongly technical but we find that the following drivers are equally likely to drive the need for such a project:

Not cool enough for Gen Y
Generation Y needs to be considered. (people born between 1981 and 2000), a generation that has never experienced green screens until they are thrust into the work force find it very difficult to adapt to what they see are archaic systems. Training becomes more difficult, time consuming and expensive and the attrition rate may well suffer. Also employees talking about how old the systems seem to be in any public forum is going to be damaging to your brand. The obvious and fairly quick alternative is one of the excellent re-rendering tools on the market. Not only can they make your systems looks new, connect well to the internet but they can also combine many applications in to a single seamless superset (known as a mash-up).

Not taking advantage of today’s technology
Older systems were often designed prior to the unimaginable advances in user interface technology that have taken place in the last decade. The advantages of modernizing your systems either by changing the underlying technology or overlaying the system to be able to handle tablets, smart phones and the mobile world can be enormous, even allowing your clients to use parts of systems previously considered purely internal.

Not keeping up
Older technology often equates to lack of functional ability and significant lag times in bringing products and functions to market. This is a business problem not only because you may be underwhelming your customers but also, more than likely, a competitor is using newer high functionality technology with a much faster development turn around.

Not taking advantage of the cloud
There are many well documented business advantages to the utilisation of cloud service, too many to go into here. But a catch is that many applications have not been written with the requirements of cloud in mind. It is therefore important to identify these applications; priorities cloud deployment and undertake a modernization project to allow then, not only work on cloud services, but also to take advantage of all of its business benefits.

So what do you do when your mission-critical enterprise applications need an update? My recommendation is to start with looking at what your business needs to achieve and work back from there. Look at what you need to achieve in terms of user satisfaction, leveraging the latest technology and whether the cloud delivery model (pay as you go, provision on demand, etc.) makes sense for your business. Fujitsu’s capability in this initial investigative process is called Application Value Assessment and is available globally.


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