Take a business-driven approach to application modernization

Today we're taking a look at application modernization. It's been going on since the first systems became operational but today we may be on the verge of a new type of modernization which will require a business-driven approach. We will be addressing the steps technology leaders should be taking in order to ensure that business leaders work with them in order to build a more modern application architecture. Our speaker is William Ulrich, whose long list of titles includes co-founder of the Business Architecture Guild and co-chair of two separate OMG working groups, among others. His presentation is entitled Rewriting the rules of the game: Establishing a business-driven application modernization strategy and it explains the need for the alignment of business and IT throughout the process of enterprise applications and covers some dos and don'ts that lead to better business-IT alignment.

Says Ulrich:

“… many of you have seen the sort of stacked view of architecture where we have the technical architecture [at the bottom] and then the application architecture, the data architecture, and the business architecture is an abstraction above all of that and it feeds into all of these pieces and layers.

As we look at what we're trying to do to modernize, some might say 'We need to get to the cloud,' or 'We need to get more services support,' or 'We need to get virtualization of our applications so we don't need to worry about them getting locked down to one particular platform, vendor, or server.'

Absolutely, those are fine goals and we want to achieve them, but in order to achieve them we need to understand how to evolve our application architecture and our data architecture. This is what the business uses to meet their needs.

To drive business value so that the business is pushing money into IT ... you have If we just say we are going to move these technical architectures from left to right, from current to target, in order to achieve these things, the question is how are we going to do that and ignore the application and data architectures? And the answer is we do need to do things to the application architecture we need to extract services out of there, modernize it, improve it.

That's great, but what is the impact on the data? Well we're going to have to update some of the data because it doesn't align. Now the question is how is this being driven by the business? And in many cases, the answer is that it's not.

Moving from one technical architecture might be perfectly viable on a project by project basis, but when you're looking at the big picture and you want to really understand how to drive business value so that the business is pushing money into IT instead of IT pulling money back, you have to understand the business architecture. When we do that we're going to really be able to start bringing value to the table.” 

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