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WebSphere Migration Knowledge Collection: Getting Started

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Migration is no longer as simple as moving your applications to a newer release of WebSphere Application Server traditional. You can assess each application to determine the best strategy for moving forward. Whether you do a full traditional WebSphere release to release migration or move a single application from a traditional WebSphere environment to Liberty in a container deployed to the cloud, we have tools to help you accomplish your goals.


Brief Overview of Application Modernization

Application modernization is a journey. The first step is to determine a long-term strategy for your overall modernization effort. The second step of the journey is to assess an inventory of your company's application estate. The third step is to develop a plan for each of the applications you want to modernize. Understanding the complexity, cost and criticality of each application helps drive your plan to fit your overall strategy. Lastly, put your plans into action.
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As you develop your modernization strategy, your applications fall into various categories. Applications in the legacy category are the applications that are cost-prohibitive to be modernized or do not provide significant business value. Applications in the strategic category are mission critical applications that run your business and that you plan to invest future development resources.
For your strategic applications, Liberty is IBM's composable, cloud-ready server, which provides support for the latest Java SE, Java or Jakarta EE, and security enhancements. Liberty is poised to run your business applications targeted for your modernization journey.
For legacy applications, use traditional WebSphere v8.5.5 and v9.0.5 to provide stability through the lifespan of those applications. One strategy is to isolate each application in its own traditional WebSphere base container and deploy it to your cloud environment. This change affords you operational modernization, so you can manage all your applications in a single management plane. Use this strategy until you are able to replace it with a new cloud native application.
Explore IBM WebSphere Hybrid Edition for a complete end-to-end solution for building new cloud native applications as well as modernizing your existing applications. CP4Apps provides a common operational model and set of runtimes for managing both legacy and strategic applications to accelerate your team's velocity for content delivery.
To better understand your applications as you prepare for modernization, here is the primary set of tools with details of the key functionality each provides:
  • IBM Cloud Transformation Advisor (TA)
    • Scans WebSphere Application Server traditional profiles to inventory your deployed applications.
    • Analyzes applications to help move them from a WebSphere traditional profile to containerized deployments.
    • Provides complexity ratings and development cost estimates.
    • Provides options for deploying to different cloud runtimes (Open Liberty, WebSphere Liberty, and traditional WebSphere).
    • Generates a customized set of deployment artifacts for the selected target runtime.
    • Also evaluates applications running on Oracle WebLogic, Apache Tomcat, or JBoss application servers.
  • IBM WebSphere administrative console - Liberty readiness analysis
    • Runs in the WebSphere Admin Console versions and 
    • Analyses selected enterprise applications and their configuration for moving to Liberty.
    • Produces exportable reports that can be shared with teammates
  • IBM WebSphere Migration Toolkit for Application Binaries (binary scanner)
    • Command-line tool to analyze applications running in a traditional WebSphere, Liberty, and other competitive servers.
    • Provides inventory, analysis, evaluation, and configuration reports to facilitate moving an application to Liberty or to a later version of traditional WebSphere.
Consider the following:
  • The IBM Cloud Transformation Advisor is recommended to produce a full view of your application estate since it includes more comprehensive application and configuration analyses, provides important planning information, and generates customized assets and recommendations for cloud environments.
  • The IBM WebSphere administrative console provides a quick first look toward making your applications Liberty compatible without installing extra tools. This analysis can be run from the enterprise applications view.
  • The binary scanner is a good option when you have a few applications to scan or when you do not have access to the application source code. The scanner can quickly provide insights into your applications and their configuration. It generates the same reports as the reports displayed in the admin console and Transformation Advisor.
As you assess each application, determine whether it can be migrated to Liberty, whether to containerize it and deploy it to a cloud, or should it be left out of your modernization efforts until it is decommissioned.
Some questions to consider during assessment:
  • Will you retire or replace the application within 3 to 5 years?
  • Can you modify the applications source code?
  • Is the application critical to your business?
  • Does it use technologies that require it to be upgraded before it can be moved to a new platform?
Once you know your modernization strategy, which includes both operational and application changes, and your applications are assessed, it is time to complete the details by planning what to do with each of the applications. 
Begin by taking a look at the applications that you identified as being strategic. For these applications, various options are available as you work to modernize these applications. We recommend that you start small with a few simple applications and build your expertise moving forward as you tackle bigger and more complex applications. As a first step to modernizing, move a few simple applications to Liberty for use of a right-sized, container-ready application server. As you move your application to Liberty, you might also need to update your application to run on a later Java or Jakarta EE level. Use the WebSphere Application Migration Toolkit to identify and make the necessary changes. Where possible, the tool includes quick fixes to facilitate the changes. 
There are varying degrees of application modernization. As you move to the modernized environment, you might find you want to build a new front end to your applications or do a total rewrite to use microservices. The IBM Garage Services can help in this effort. And if your plan involves moving to IBM Cloud, consider the migration factory services offered by IBM Global Technology Services (GTS).
One option for legacy applications is to modernize the operational environment by placing the application in a traditional WebSphere container that can then be managed along side Liberty and other application stacks. Another option is to leave the application running in its current traditional WebSphere environment. Our recommendation is that you invest your migration dollars to reduce your technical debt by modernizing the applications and moving them to Liberty.
Now it is time to put your plan into action. Here are a few more things to consider as you begin:
  • When you are planning the migrations, create a cross-development-team communications mechanism so that different teams can learn from each other as new coding patterns and new techniques emerge. 
  • From the Transformation Advisor assessment, start with the simple applications to gain experience with the tools, your migration process (workflow), and running the application on Liberty.
  • Focus on updating your common code shared across multiple applications either as shared libraries or packaged within the EAR files. This focus can benefit multiple applications. By moving multiple applications to the latest version of common JAR files, you can eliminate redundancy within your applications.
  • WebSphere Application Migration Toolkit (WAMT) Eclipse plug-in is invaluable to developers making code changes. The changes identified by WAMT match the issues identified in the assessments generated by Transformation Advisor and the binary scanner. If your developers do not use Eclipse, they can use the assessment reports to make code changes. 

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Modified date:
24 February 2024