There are still many myths out there surrounding software migrations. Through all the years we have found not only that many people still ignore that there are automatic migration tools available, but some believe that automation is just more trouble than it’s worth, and that, besides, it is just plain better to start from scratch. To concur with this idea is, for starters, to simply devalue all of the effort and thought that was put into developing the application, therefore willing to risk years of business knowledge embedded in these systems.
In any case, the truth is that a rewrite from scratch implies a much more difficult task, but due to these misconceptions, valuable resources are wasted in projects that sometimes just never get to see a successful ending. There’s no doubt that any software renewal project isn’t a simple, overnight task, but a well-planned automated migration can make the process comparatively painless. So once you learn about the availability of advanced migration technologies that allow generating code of a superior quality, with a much lower project cost, time and risk, you will definitely agree that using automated migration tools as part of an overall software renewal initiative is the most viable way to leverage the current investment in legacy applications and move them to the latest platforms.
With that in mind I just wrote a white paper highlighting the main myth-debunking reasons why an automatic migration is a far better software modernization approach than a manual rewrite, based not only on ArtinSoft’s own experience in migration projects but on all the customer and industry analyst feedback and evidence gathered over the years.
So click on the link and read or download for free the “5 myth-busting reasons for choosing an automatic migration vs. a manual rewrite” white paper.
Eric Nelson covered the
quasi-legendary legacy transformation options graph on his blog.
Taking into account the 4 basic alternatives for legacy renovation, that is, Replace, Rewrite, Reuse or Migrate,
this diagram shows the combination of 2 main factors that might lead to these
options: Application Quality and Business Value. As Declan Good
mentioned in his “Legacy
Transformation” white paper, Application Quality refers to “the suitability
of the legacy application in business and technical terms”, based on parameters
like effectiveness, functionality, stability of the embedded business rules,
stage in the development life cycle, etc. On the other hand, Business Value is
related to the level of customization, that is, if it’s a unique, non-standard
system or if there are suitable replacement packages available.
diagram represents the basic decision criteria, but there are other issues that
must be considered, specifically when evaluating VB to .NET upgrades. For
example, as Eric mentions in his blog post, a lot of manual rewrite projects
face so many problems that end up being abandoned. One of ArtinSoft’s recent
went for the automated migration approach after analyzing the implications of a
rewrite from scratch. They just couldn’t afford the time, cost and disruption involved. As Ryan Grady, owner of the
company in charge of this VB to .NET migration project for HSI puts it, “very quickly we realized that upgrading the
application gave us the ability to have something already and then just improve
each part of it as we moved forward. Without question, we would still be working
on it if we’d done it ourselves, saving us up to 12 months of development time
easily”. Those 12 months translated into a US$160,000 saving for HSI! (You
can read the complete case
study at ArtinSoft’s website.)
the other hand, for some companies reusing (i.e. wrapping) their VB6
applications to run on the .NET platform is simply not an option, no matter
where it falls in the aforementioned chart. For example, there are strict regulations in the Financial and
Insurance verticals that deem keeping critical applications in an environment
that’s no longer officially supported simply unacceptable. Besides, sometimes
there’s another drawback to this alternative: it adds more elements to be
maintained, two sets of data to be kept synchronized and requires for the
programmers to switch constantly between 2 different development environments.
an assessment of a software portfolio before deciding on a legacy transformation
method must take into account several factors that are particular to each case,
like available resources, budget, time to market, compliance with regulations,
and of course, the specific goals you want to achieve through this application
In the past, the concept of
business continuity was typically associated with a company's ability to
recover from natural disasters (fires, flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes). The
events of September 11th changed the paradigm, ending the somewhat
lax attitude towards business continuity planning and turning attention to
those threats having an element of human intent. Moreover, business continuity
planning began focusing not only on allowing an organization to continue
functioning after and during a disaster, but on reducing its impact, hence
minimizing the risk of extended disruptions.
Undeniably, the traditional
approach to business continuity requirements has shifted, driven by the demands
of globalization and high-tech society. It has grown out of the response and
recovery focus and into prevention strategies and techniques. Under this new
paradigm business continuity emphasizes on managing mission critical business assets
and processes to ensure continuous availability.
Business continuity planning is a
crucial part of an organization's overall risk management, and in a world where
information is power and technology is a decisive business enabler, every analysis
around contemporary threats with a potential of causing severe damage to the
organizational infrastructure leads to the assessment of operational risk linked
to information systems. This certainly recognizes the value of software
assets in today's business infrastructure, taking into account the fact
that significant investments in intellectual capital have usually been embedded
in the systems over the years, comprising the back-bone of many companies.
Therefore, a modern structured approach to managing uncertainty related to
threats encompasses all the necessary averting to ensure reliability, correct
functioning and scalability of business critical applications.
Modern organizations must secure their
continuity considering the increasing complexity and interconnection brought by
the reliance on technology to accomplish their goals. Those with business
critical applications will certainly realize the grave impact of system
malfunction upon business continuity, and the implications for stakeholders of
damage to the organization naturally deems it as unacceptable. Protecting the
financial health and stability of an organization is an essential issue for
management, and the high impact risk associated with vital software
applications make this area of business continuity planning highly relevant on
Risk avoidance or reduction strategies linked to information assurance
have to deal with the applications'
security, performance and other technical capabilities, with development and
maintenance costs and support availability constituting critical issues to
consider. In fact, governmental entities and organizations in the power,
telecommunication, health, banking and financial industries are subject to
regulations that aim to protect public interest, including systemic failure
among its previsions to ensure information confidentiality, integrity,
authentication and availability.
But the concept of business
continuity is not limited to regulated public utility infrastructures only. Of
course, it's fairly obvious how some minutes of downtime can seriously affect a
large financial institution, but losing access to information systems has consequences
on any type of business. Business continuity is vital to business success, and in
today's interrelated world, practically every aspect of a company's operation
is vulnerable to fatal disruption. And the aforementioned value of software
assets applies to any type of organization, making it an objectionable
operational risk to maintain exposed, unsupported critical applications that
may not run properly. And modernizing them through non-disruptive methods like automated software migration
effectively contains the issues.
It’s well known that financial institutions are under a lot
of pressure to replace their core legacy systems, and here at ArtinSoft we’ve seen an increased interest
from this industry towards our migration services and products, specially our Visual Basic Upgrade
Companion tool and our VB to
.NET upgrade services. In fact,
during the last year or so we’ve helped lots of these institutions move their
business critical applications to newer platforms, accounting for millions of
lines of code successfully migrated at low risk, cost and time.
Margin pressures and shrinking IT budgets have always been a
considerable factor for this sector, with financial institutions constantly
looking for a way to produce more with less. Some studies show that most of
them allocate around 80% of their budgets maintaining their current IT
infrastructure, much of which comprised by legacy applications.
Competition has also acted as another driver for legacy
modernization, with organizations actively looking for a competitive advantage
in a globalized world. Legacy applications, like other intangible assets, are
hard to emulate by competitors, so they represent key differentiators and a source
of competitive advantage. Typically, significant investments in intellectual
capital have been implanted in the legacy systems over the years (information
about services, customers, operations, processes, etc.), constituting the
back-bone of many companies.
In the past, they approached modernization in an incremental
way, but recent compliance and security developments have drastically impacted
financial institutions. In order to comply with new regulations, they are
forced to quickly upgrade their valuable legacy
software assets. Industry analysts estimate that between 20-30% of a bank's
base budget is spent on compliance demands, so they are urgently seeking for
ways to reduce this cost so that they can invest in more strategic projects.
However, many institutions manually rewrite their legacy
applications, a disruptive method that consumes a lot of resources, and normally
causes loss of business knowledge embedded in these systems. Hence the pain and
mixed results that Bank Technology News’ Editor in Chief, Holly Sraeel,
describes on her article “From
Pain to Gain With Core Banking Swap Outs”. “Most players concede that such
a move (core banking replacement) is desirable and considered more strategic
today than in years past. So why don’t more banks take up the cause? It’s still
a painful—and expensive—process, with no guarantees”, she notes. “The
replacement of such a system (…) represents the most complex, risky and
expensive IT project an institution can undertake. Still, the payoff can far
exceed the risks associated with replacement projects, particularly if one
factors in the greater efficiency, access to information and ability to add
That’s when the concept of a proven automated legacy
migration solution emerges as the most viable and cost-effective path towards
compliance, preserving the business knowledge present in these assets, enhancing
their functionality afterwards, and avoiding the technological obsolescence
dead-end trap. Even more when this is no longer optional due to today’s tighter
regulations. As Logica’s William Morgan clearly states on the interview
I mentioned on my previous post,
“compliance regimes in Financial Services can often dictate it an unacceptable
operational risk to run critical applications on unsupported software”.
“These applications are becoming a real risk and some are
increasingly costly to maintain. Regulators are uncomfortable about
unsupported critical applications. Migrating into the .NET platform, either to VB.NET
or C# contains the issue. Clients are keen to move to new technologies in the
simplest and most cost effective way so that their teams can quickly focus on
developments in newer technologies and build teams with up to date skills”, he
ads, referring specifically to VB6 to .NET migrations.
So, as I mentioned before, ArtinSoft has a lot of experience in large
scale critical migration projects, and in the last year we’ve provided
compliance relief for the financial sector. With advanced automated migration
tools you can license, or expert consulting services and a growing partner
network through which you can outsource the whole project on a fixed time and
cost basis, we can definitely help you move your core systems to the latest
OK. So finally, after months of encouraging my colleagues to post their thoughts and experiences on this domain
, I decided to start my own blog. Yeah, well, it probably should have started the other way around, but you know what they say: "Shoemakers’ wives go barefoot, and doctors' wives die young".
Having worked at ArtinSoft's
marketing and customer service departments for years, it's only natural to write about the market/business side of the software migration world (motivations, advances, tips, experiences, issues, achievements, statistics, etc.), specially around Visual Basic to .NET upgrades. But you should also expect some random stuff thrown in once in a while.