CIO Leadership, Applications

Application modernization is an art – it needs to be done right

The art is in selectively modernizing the right application components

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Applications come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some applications are good candidates for modernization, some aren’t. In that respect, applications are like cars. And, like cars, the manner in which applications are modernized is an art. We tend to associate financial, technical and emotional value to cars. Whether (and how) we modernize them varies from one car to another, but most cars are replaced at the end of their lives, unless they still carry value for their owners.   

Susan, my colleague at work, associates a lot of fond memories with a 1930 Pontiac Coupe she calls Priscilla. Susan’s family purchased Priscilla 35 years ago – around the era of legacy mainframe applications. Look at Priscilla today and you pause to admire her antique charm, which eclipses the legacy framework inside (Priscilla’s version of code and business logic). Priscilla has been artfully modernized, with a beautiful, 1972 Jaguar maroon paint job. Like Priscilla, certain legacy applications are great candidates for modernization.

Modern PriscillaOut of the 535 Pontiac Coupes that GM manufactured 82 years ago, Priscilla is one of only two still running. She won Best in Show the first year she was shown at the Marmora Car Show in Canada. (Can you find her?) She was also showcased in the October 2008 edition of Collectible Automobile along with other Pontiacs of that era.

Like a Bonnie and Clyde auto, she also reminds me of the Lone Star application. She functions steady-eddy, doing her job, and humming along for the long haul.  

Application modernization does not always have to entail a complete revamp of all components. Applications that are effectively enabling basic business functionality can have a newer and friendlier interface more in line with the times — a new paint job, shall we say?

Priscilla Even after modernization, the foundational elements of Priscilla’s internal structure (her code and business logic) are what GM intended them to be in 1930.

When Priscilla takes Susan's family home down the country road, they still experience the slow, steady engine, while the world gazes at her in admiration of how she has modernized herself to be one of the two Lone Stars left in the world.

In Being Mobile is Good — but application of mobility is priceless, I describe why car apps are the next big thing, making social networking a legacy application. But if you ask Susan, her family will prefer to cherish and retain the pristine beauty of Priscilla and not add any of these new apps within their car. In Susan’s words, “When it comes to cars, Priscilla is a coupe!”

How about you? Do you have Priscillas in your IT environment? Do you have and Lone Star applications that have withstood the test of time, and continue to serve their business purpose? Have you considered modernizing the interface to these applications? Got a photo to share? Please let me know.

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