AIS’s experience with Legacy Modernization projects is perhaps our deepest and most extensive. Most of our clients are enterprises with extremely complex, heterogeneous systems. They must leverage these legacy investments until the ROI to replace them is met.
But modernization takes many years and requires substantial planning. It is simply too large and too expensive of a task to take on all at once. And the social aspect of managing a change in technology is every bit as challenging as the system and software engineering challenges. Most people resist change and moving from systems that have been in place for decades is a dramatic change that most people don’t embrace, at least initially.
For most enterprises, a carefully planned, multi-phase process is a better fit.
Our approach to Legacy Modernization and specific areas of expertise include:
- Surround: Since “legacy” usually refers to server hardware and software, innovations are found on the client or user experience side, we are often required to abstract central legacy systems with one new innovation after another. We find ways to abstract back-end systems so that we may interoperate with new applications on client platforms. AIS built the Microsoft interoperability product for Unisys mainframes (UniAccess) to support our efforts during the 1990s.
- Migrate: This refers to the process of migrating server programs and databases from a legacy platform to a new platform. For example, migrating mainframe COBOL and associated databases to .NET-based solutions. We have used many tools over the years, including (most recently) Alchemy. This is also known as lift and shift.
- Re-Write: We have done re-writes for many years as a means to modernize legacy systems. We find ourselves doing that even more often today. Commodity hardware and software scale to meet any need and public clouds dramatically reduce platform costs. The building blocks and extensibility frameworks have matured so now we can write a fraction of the code required in the past. This drastically reduces development costs and time. Finally, development across multiple geographically distributed teams enables us to further reduce our costs and schedules. As a result, we have become efficient in this process including the analysis process to define and manage the feature backlog.
It takes strong, savvy management to successfully navigate what is normally a massive multi-year modernization program. But it can be more than worth the journey. The payoff can be dramatic not only in reducing total hardware, software and labor costs but also in the opportunity for the transformative change it can enable.
In the commercial sector competitors can be outflanked, new markets can be entered and new products offered. In the public sector, the mission can be more effectively and efficiently met at dramatically lower costs so funds can be re-purposed to address priorities that couldn’t be supported in the past.