CIO’s greatest concerns around legacy transformation

Along with the rise of the digital transformation era the role of the CIO has changed quite a bit over the past years. Along with keeping fully up-to-date with the emerging new technologies they also need to keep a close link to the organization’s business and financial strategic goals and results.

Legacy systems are one of the CIO’s biggest challenges. These systems pose limitations on innovation, flexibility and agility of the IT organization while consuming a large part of the IT budget. However, the decision to migrate and modernize legacy systems is not taken lightly.

Asysco has been active in the mainframe world since 1979 and over the past 20 years has fully specialized in legacy transformation. They have successfully completed over 75 legacy transformation projects worldwide.
In this interview, Herman Eggink, Chief Commercial Officer of Asysco discusses three important concerns he regularly encounters around legacy transformation.

Why are CIO’s reluctant to start a legacy transformation project?

Herman Eggink: “These legacy systems have been around for decades and most of them have ‘home-grown’ applications that include critical business information. All of the ‘easy’ to migrate applications have already been moved and they’ve saved the most complex and most critical systems for last. There’s a big risk associated with these types of migrations so CIO’s have some major concerns which have to be cleared first.”

Can you give us some of these concerns and explain how these can be taken away?

Concern 1 – Like for Like holding back innovation
“At Asysco we always start a transformation process by performing a ‘like for like’ migration, meaning we migrate the old environment ‘the as-is’ into the new ‘to-be’, so the new environment has exactly the same functionality as the old one. CIO’s are usually eager to start modernizing right-away and feel that this approach is delaying desired innovation. The big advantage of performing a like for like migration is the management and predictability of the project. It is not true that there’s absolutely no room for modernization. Several steps and preparation will run in parallel with the project so new functionalities can be taken into production shortly after go-live. The whole infrastructure will be renewed so they can enjoy all the direct benefits such as better integrations, more efficient delivery, higher agility, drastically lower cost, etc.”

Concern 2 – Maintainability
“The ‘old’ converted code needs to be maintained and at the same time there’s the building and maintenance of the new system. This is a concern. The ideal situation would be to rewrite all the code and start from scratch. However, this is not feasible as it is too expensive and would take way too much time.

Therefore, code transformation is the best alternative. Performing a 1:1 code conversion results in readable, maintainable code that, in due time, can be modernized in a controlled way. Those parts that do not need maintenance do not have to be bothered with, except for bug fixes. Those parts that need modernization can be redesigned, replaced or integrated with new tools. We’ve seen this happen at our customers VIVAT and DLL with their Business Process Management and CRM applications. Performance and quality can be managed well this way.”

Concern 3 – Adoption of transition in the organization
“All change is difficult, specifically when it touches the heart of the organization. These legacy systems have been around for so many years, many of them are home grown, a lot of time and effort has been put into them. A migration is quite a big change and a new environment requires different skills and a different way of working. CIO’s fear that a forced migration will lead to resistance and/or a skills gap.

At Asysco we are aware of this fear and we tackle that in the following way. First of all, we have made project governance and communications a major topic in our approach. We are making sure that we involve everyone in the project as of day 1 and we’ll guide them along the process. This way we are able to discover and solve potential issues very quickly.

Secondly, we offer all our clients the option to continue developing in their trusted environment (COBOL/Mainframe) by using our proven AMT COBOL solution, the unique transformation engine generating native, readable and maintainable C#/VB.NET.

This allows them to make the switch to the new world (object oriented/x86) in their own time, without having to start a new migration project. We are the only one offering this solution.”

Is there an advice you want to give CIO’s who are considering a legacy transformation project?

“Yes, just do it! Everyone we work with always gives us the same comment straight after the project: “If only we knew how good the result was, we would have done this much earlier.“

That’s why I want to say: start now, don’t wait! It’s really worth it. You don’t have to take my word for it, talk to our customers.”

About Herman Eggink
As CCO, Herman Eggink is responsible for Asysco’s global sales, marketing and business development function. Prior to Joining Asysco, Herman was sales responsible for Hewlett Packard’s platform transformation business in EMEA which included HP’s Mainframe Alternative Program. In addition, Herman had various sales, sales management and project management roles in Oracle and Logica. Herman has a degree in computer sciences.