What is the Application Transformation Blog all about?
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The Application Transformation Blog is a forum for IBMers, customers and business partners to discuss the who, what , when, where , how and whys of transforming legacy applications written in VAGen, SmallTalk, I4GL, Natural/ADABAS, RPG, CA Cool:Gen, CA Ideal, CA Telon, Maestro, APS, Powerbuilder, VB, and other 4GLs to Rational Business Developer featuring EGL technology.
This blog should be used by customers who have spent huge sums of time and treasure developing custom applications that set them apart from competitors and optimally support their specific business processes. Yet when it comes to functionality and technology, these custom applications can quickly grow old and lose their value. So th ey need to find alternatives that leverage their investments.
Who is a candidate for Applicaiton Transformation?
Literally any IT organization running older legacy systems that are core to the business, not necessarily broken, but are on life support due to the software being in maintenance mode, a lack of skilled IT programming staff in the older language or an IT strategic direction is to move to a new , modern software development platform.
When is it appropriate?
That depends on the specific business need, for example:
Extending the application lifecycle
Transitioning to an SOA
New UI (User Interface) requirements - Web/JSF, Rich Client/Web 2.0
Improving agility and Increasing competiveness
Vanishing RPG developer skills - Consolidating development teams
Through maintenance, functional aging can be circumvented or at least significantly slowed. Most of the time, however, technical aging goes unnoticed until unreasonably high maintenance costs arise later on in the lifecycle; application agility declines; or the development platform begins dying a slow death. These are all indications that it's time to migrate an application to a new technological platform before its costs outweigh its benefits.
When they reach this point, companies often find themselves in a bind. They realize that it's not cost-effective to simply replace their legacy applications with modern standard software. And few can afford to continually rewrite all of their custom software to keep it up to date. Even if they can afford rewrites, companies realize that the money could be better spent on a more cost-effective approach to modernizing and migrating to the latest technical standards.
How do you approach application transformation? What's involved? Which technologies? Are there phases?
There are three main phases in any applicaiton transformation:
Discovery aNd Analysis(DNA)
Implementation, Testing and Deployment
From a technology perspective the target of all Rational Application transformations is Rational Business Developer featuring EGL technology. Embedded in Eclipse, EGL offers a modern, service-oriented language for the efficient development of different application types, including Web programs, database applications, Web services, and batch and high-performance servers for fast transaction processing. Thanks to the tightly knit integration in the IBM Rational tool chain, EGL development can be embedded in a professional development process or lifecycle -from requirements management to modeling and coding, to testing and deployment. EGL's ease of adoption helps facilitate the transformation of RPG applications. Because EGL is easy to learn, it enables RPG developers to transfer their valuable business know-how in just a fraction of the time it would take for those same developers to transfer to Java technology.
Where does it occur?
Some tasks can be performed off-site on secured servers - the initial DNA and actual code transformation. The actual code transformation is typically performed off-site on secured servers. An EGL Project or Projects would be delivered to the customer site for implementation and testing which can be performed by the application owner or a service provider. Other tasks must be performed on-site - Education & training, code remediation (if required), implementation and testing.
Who performs which tasks?
Depending on the legacy source code environment, IBM & IBM specific business partners will perform the analysis and code transformation. The code remediation (if required), implementation, testing and deployment can be performed by internal IT staff with or without assistance from IBM, IBM SI or IBM Business Partners.
None of this is trivial, but it is all doable. The best advice is to contact Ed Gondek at IBM Rational - firstname.lastname@example.org and start the discussion!