Special report: Mainframe application modernization

Mainframe application modernization keeps legacy systems vital. The mainframe remains central and its ongoing transformation is among notable SOA success stories.

Mainframe application modernization keeps legacy systems vital. The mainframe remains central to large-scale high-performance enterprise computing, and its ongoing transformation is among notable SOA success stories. At one time, legacy mainframe applications resisted renewal -- teams sorted through spaghetti code and tried to rewrite systems not easily rewritten.

Now it is very common for organizations to ably sort through their application portfolio, and transform what needs transforming via wrapped Web services. This is one of the takeaways from a recent series on application modernization by Colleen Frye.

''When is SOA the right road to application modernization?'' shows Forrester's Phil Murphy telling Frye that when basic things are wrong with the application, it is not a target for SOA at all. But, he says, sometimes ''SOA presents an opportunity to break things down into smaller chunks of reusable functionality, and then rewrite.''

We sometimes see BPM acting as the 'new integrator.' Such may be the case in a scenario described in Frye's ''Overcoming barriers to application modernization,'' in which she talks with Tom Hall, of HP Enterprise Services. He said clients use an SOA approach to "modernize in place." He maintained: "It's less invasive and reduces risk vs. completely rewriting applications. One approach is to externalize in a business rules engine to change how programs process data, to make them more flexible."

There may be an end to the road of wrapped spaghetti legacy said one observer. In our most recent App Mod installment, OMG's legacy modernization work focuses on ADM standards, industry veteran William M. Ulrich, who co-chairs the OMG's Architecture-Driven Modernization (ADM) task force, said IT is ''running into walls it can't find ways over anymore." IT has ''wrapped and rewrapped, and they still have all this spaghetti architecture,'' he continued.

''We've already tried all the tricks in our bag, and now there's not a lot of things left, but one is modernization. There is both business pressure and IT desire to get the architecture cleaned up," said Ulrich.

Read these pieces for a good view on legacy today:

Legacy application modernization benefits revealed
Legacy application modernization can make COBOL reusable. Discover what modernizing legacy applications can do for you. [SearchCIO.in]

OMG's legacy modernization work focuses on ADM standards
Object Management Group's ADM Task Force is developing standards to facilitate an architecture-driven modernization approach to legacy modernization.

Overcoming barriers to application modernization
Barriers to implementing application modernization are the initial cost, risk, business buy-in and subject matter expertise, according to a recent Forrester Research study.

When is SOA the right road to application modernization?
To get good results, you must distinguish between service orientation and service-oriented architecture. Also, ask if legacy code is good enough to benefit from modernization.

SOA user story: San Francisco uses software to cut sewer-grid loss
San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission uses asset management software to keep tabs on sewer grates. SOA and MDM are seen as enablers in an application update.

Oracle dresses up its first Tuxedo transaction processor with SCA
Tuxedo can serve for mainframe integration and re-hosting; Tuxedo TPM benefits from Oracle update.

Alchemy services move CICS applications to .NET
Alchemy services move CICS applications to .NET with minimal intervention.

Legacy-to-SOA modernization goes to court
Legacy mid-range and mainframe host integration via XML and Web services is one of the more stellar re-work methods of our time.

Tips for tracing enterprise transactions 
Triage of legacy means you must break applications into categories. Among these are three-tiered client-server and mainframe applications that do not respond to easy modernization.

Brownfield Development: Tracking the mainframe legacy 'elephant'
If you are going to eat the elephant that is legacy IT systems, it's best to get the beast down to bite-sized chunks, says Richard Hopkins and Kevin Jenkins, executive IT architects for IBM in the UK.

BPM fills some application modernization needs, not all
Can the business process management (BPM) lens be trained on legacy applications to fill enterprise modernization needs? Some say yes, BPM is the way to go, while others argue that BPM is a relatively small portion of a complete legacy modernization effort.

Business architecture takes the fore in application portfolio analysis
Experts say that a shift to business-focused application portfolio management is currently under way. As part of that shift, business architecture is taking the forefront in application portfolio analysis.

This was first published in August 2010

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