Functional Equivalent Modernization of Legacy Applications

Technology is evolving at an exponential speed. So do applications, code and the complexity of IT legacy. Maintenance costs for legacy applications are constantly increasing, and require rarefying IT skills. Modernizing business strategic applications, freeing them from aging technologies and opening the way to new functionalities and Digital is now key to sustainable growth.

“The majority of spending is going towards modernizing, functionally expanding or substituting long-standing business and office applications with cloud-based software-as-a-service” said Bianca Granetto, research director at Gartner in a recent article (http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3119717) .

This having been said, for an organization wishing to rejuvenate its application portfolio with several millions lines of Legacy code, choosing the right path to modernization is a difficult decision as illustrated by the following figure :

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The functional requirements of a Legacy application are complex ; they have evolved many times over the years, and up to date documentation often does not exist.

The day to day operations of large corporations are handled by end-users interacting with their information systems; the re design of corporate information system always has an impact on operation processes that go far beyond simple application modernization.

 

Functional equivalent modernization is the fastest way to  leverage flexible service oriented architecture, and build JEE or .NET systems “ready for Cloud”. It relies on:

  • Using a tool that extracts the functional logic “buried” in legacy application source code, to regain and preserve the business know-how and to capitalize on the current processes and business rules while eliminating drawbacks of an aging code.
  • Taking into account JEE or .NET the technical requirements over coding standards and modern framework usages for data access, business processing, Web presentation technologies.
  • Achieving compliance over the modernized application through testing, built on reproducing the Legacy application use cases.

Functional equivalent modernization is based on functional equivalence testing. The legacy application SMEs, key end users and support team can record use cases on the legacy application and provide the corresponding data. This is the most effective way to insure the compliance of the modernized application. Furthermore, with continuous integration and automated testing, the compliance and quality of the modernized application is measured constantly and incrementally throughout of the modernization process.

 

Still, modern Java or C# frameworks implement powerful Web presentation technologies. With a functional equivalent modernization, the correct usage of these technologies can both:

  • Allow end users to insure their company’s operations with a usage of their information system functionally equivalent to the legacy application.
  • Increase efficiency with modern Web interfaces over multiple devices.

 

During the transformation process itself, the application screens and user interaction processes can both rely on modern Web technologies and have enough similitude with the legacy Application so that:

  • No training nor change management is necessary for the end users when switching from the legacy application.
  • Only generic transformation rules are applied, without any screen specific requirements. Typically: data grid paginations, enhanced style sheets, date pickers, input tooltips and placeholders, screen resizing, auto complete…

Once the transformation process is completed and the functional equivalence has been achieved, the modernized code is delivered, fully compliant with quality standards and target architecture requirements, free of any runtime or proprietary classes. The application portfolio is now preserved from obsolescence and technological dependencies. Your business processes become agile again and are ready to adapt to both current and future technologies.

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