Lawrence Wilkes on Legacy Modernization

We recently met with Lawrence Wilkes, Director and Principal Consultant with Everware-CBDi, to talk about how IT departments are addressing their legacy systems.

We will post Lawrence's response to the following three questions over our next few blog posts:

  • What are the top three things you've seen people do to successfully address the competing demands of new build vs. legacy modernization with limited resources?
  • Is there a role for model-based tools like the OutSystems platform in legacy modernization?
  • What are the top three mistakes people make when addressing their legacy?

#1   What are the top 3 things you've seen IT do to successfully address the competing demands of new build vs. legacy modernization when faced with limited or shrinking resources?

LW: My experience is enterprises that are really successful tend to buck the trend. They are more radical and don't just "follow the crowd". Rather, there are usually one or two key people who have an architectural vision that breaks new ground - at least from their organization's perspective. Typically they will:

  • Combine application modernization and business improvement programs. They get business stakeholders involved in understanding the options for modernizing, both in terms of business needs and the applications that allow a more radical approach to be taken to requirements.  They avoid the knee-jerk reaction of buying a package or simply outsourcing the entire problem because they are seen as expedient options that, however, often results in something that is no better able to respond to change than the legacy it is replacing. Instead, they are keen to search out economies of scale and cost; capitalizing on existing investments in applications where possible, rather than just throwing them away, and break-down organizational and application silos to create solutions that are genuinely more flexible.
  • Keep business design and architecture in-house; create strong architecture and Centers of Excellence (CoE) roles that are able to exert strong architectural governance over outsourcing and delivery. They do not allow the outsource parties to gain control, nor do they lose knowledge of their business, applications and environments.
  • They use agile approaches but are not slavishly following the conventional "agile" manifesto - agile needs to be used within an architected, governed framework, not ad hoc. They establish a formal reference model and framework, which allows rapid delivery and governance of products, delivered by an agile process.

What steps has your organization taken to successfully address legacy systems while delivering new systems?

In our next post we will address Q.2 and the role of model-based development tools play with legacy modernization.

Lawrence Wilkes is a Director and Principal Consultant at Everware-CBDI. Lawrence is a frequent speaker, author and consultant on best practice in SOA, Application Modernization and Enterprise Architecture. Via CBDI Forum, the Everware-CBDI research capability and portal, Lawrence has led the development of the CBDI-SAE methodology and supporting Knowledgebase, which is used by both end-user organizations and system integrators around the world. Lawrence has an extensive background both within end-user and vendor organizations having worked both in the business and IT side, which brings particular insight into business/IT convergence.