How to get rid of my legacy applications


Posted on: Jan 12, 2018 by Kees Kranenburg

Rebuilding a legacy application? Are you out of your mind? Well, no. Let’s give it a second thought.

We all know that there is a lot of legacy in our applications today. As ICT industry, we are very capable to introduce new technologies, but we seldom clean up. Consequently, in large enterprises we are facing many technologies originated from the decade they were popular: Cobol, PL/1, Oracle*Forms, PowerBuilder, Progress, C, C++, Visual Basic, and so on. Core business applications are based on these ancient technologies, hindering innovation and increasing the technology debt.

It is evident that the costs of maintaining such enterprise applications are oversized. Costs are outrageous because of maintaining several systems with sometimes overlapping functionality, and due to maintaining scarce resources and skills of different technologies. Many initiatives were taken to rationalize the application landscape. Studies were started to make an inventory of all applications and their characteristics to make a roadmap for rationalization. But the execution of those programs stagnates due to changing business priorities or economic downtimes with focus on cost reduction and investment freeze.

Within this background it is surprising to see that some organizations have changed their strategy and approach. Where many CIOs have driven an IT policy based on standard packages, some are going against the tide by choosing bespoke development using a low-code platform.

Low-code platforms (see Forrester report “Low-Code Development Platforms For AD&D, Q4 2017”) show a very high productivity of software development. A study of KPMG indicates 30% to 50% productivity gains in coding, 40% during testing, 75% in deployment and 50% to 75% productivity gains during maintenance. Project experiences show a productivity increase of 5 to 10 times compared to Java or .NET software development. This extreme high productivity makes the business case positive.

Based on a positive business case some CIOs decided to rebuild their mainframe applications instead of re-platforming them. Others are rebuilding their legacy applications instead of implementing a standard package for which they know that it will go hand in hand with costly, additional adjustments and enhancements.

Rebuilding the legacy applications combined with an Agile / DevOps development approach to comprise the backlog of desired, new functionalities guarantees that the rebuilt applications meets the business requirements of today and fully. This way some business and mission-critical systems were rebuilt with a time to go live of 14 to 18 months.

Apart from a positive business case, additional benefits are up for grabs. Reducing the technology debt by adopting a future proof Platform as a Service. Updating the development skills and reducing the number of different development skills which reduces the sourcing challenge of today and tomorrow. Increasing the ability to change by reducing the time-to-market to any platform: Azure, AWS, iOS and Android. And, reduction of the maintenance costs by 50% to 75%.But above all, with a positive business case in hand, rebuilding legacy applications with a low code platform enables digital transformation and creates competitiveness.​

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About Kees Kranenburg

Portfolio manager Application Transformation
Kees Kranenburg is Portfolio manager Application Transformation. His field of play is software development and application management and the organization, processes, methods and tools necessary to professionalize and industrialize them. He advises organizations regarding their application development and management strategy and their sourcing strategy.

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