Sounding Off About The Legacy Monster

Letters that disagree with Bob...

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

April 13, 2003

3 Min Read

Challenge Conventional Wisdom
In the beginning, God created the world in six days. He rested on the seventh day because he was efficient and effective in the way he approached creating the world from scratch and the fact that he didn't have to deal with legacy infrastructure and applications!

Simply stated: Turn off access to these legacy application monsters and see who calls. When they call, ask them what the business need is for the application and see if anything has been developed recently that they could use in place of it to achieve the same desired results.

Sometimes someone just needs to have the courage to make the call to manage the application portfolio by challenging internal conventional wisdom that "the business runs on these apps and would fall apart if we retired them."
Pete McGarahan
Chairman, STI Knowledge

Slow But Sure
The main cause of our legacy monster is the industry custom of using complex monolithic applications to manage several different aspects of the business. We are slowly killing off our vendors, isolating our business processes, and using more modern development techniques and tools (Deja Vu and ThinkCap, specifically) to develop mini-apps.

By linking these together with an "intelligent network," we hope to contain the size of any future problems and make modernization an ongoing process rather than an event.
Phil Davis
Chief Operating Officer, Allied Utility Network

Ongoing Process
Slaying the monster has been an ongoing process for three years. Our approach has been to target certain segments from the legacy system and build a new system from scratch with Java and Web apps. The new apps run in parallel with the legacy system until the new app is stable enough to sever off a limb from the legacy monster. We anticipate having the legacy monster RIP in the next two to three years.

The approach we've taken does require transferring data between the legacy system and the new application. While this approach works for our organization, it won't be a viable option for others.
Mark Moynahan
DBA, Apollo Group

Understand Technology
Businesses today must recognize IT costs as an investment and start evaluating the return rather than simply setting an IT budget. Technology can no longer be considered an operating expense because cutting that budget truly mirrors the cliché "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

What, then, is technology?

Look it up. My dictionary, published in 1987, defines it as a manner of accomplishing a task using technical methods or knowledge. If I consult the thesaurus in my Microsoft Word program, I find the following listed as synonyms: skill, knowledge, expertise, know-how, equipment, machinery, tools. All nouns.

Interestingly, according to the aforementioned program, no antonyms exist, but I can think of a few: forfeit, lose, capitulate. All verbs.

Smart business owners understand the definition of productivity and its antonyms; in order to survive, they had better start understanding the importance of investments in technology.
Tammy Clem
Marketing Director, CompuNet

The Monster Gets Bigger
We're building a new monster. After several mergers in the company, management decided to merge on one system. I'm now on a project that's moving from an Alpha platform with VMS written in Cobol and Basic to ... an IBM AS/400 platform using RPG! The project is estimated to take two years, but I predict it will take a lot more.
Tom Cantarine
Senior Programmer Analyst, Health Net

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