OpenLegacy Blog

Why Can’t Legacy Systems and Mobile Apps Just Get Along?

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One of the biggest frustrations we hear from customers over and over is the difficulty of integrating legacy systems with mobile and web apps, whether those apps for are for internal use by their workforce or external use by consumers.

Their frustration is understandable – and a sense of urgency is growing. When you consider that there are nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, which is equivalent to 95.5 percent of the world’s population, the inability to provide a mobile solution suddenly becomes a huge business problem, both from business development and operations angles. We have found that there are three major reasons why legacy systems remain closed to the mobile world:

Legacy systems and app developers speak different languages

Software developers no longer learn the development language required to build and maintain midrange (AS400/iSeries) and mainframe (z/OS) systems. Instead, they learn JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Obective-C, node.js, and Ruby, all of which are new and mobile-centric.

As those mainframe developers, programmers, and engineers who work with legacy systems retire, their skills are disappearing from the workplace. Through no fault of their own, today’s developers do not understand the intelligence, business rules, and years of maturity those systems contain. You now find yourself the custodian of years of valuable data stuck in a sort of house arrest, unable to move around in the mobile world.

Modernization projects take a long time

To move those legacy systems into the mobile world, you need to be ready to devote resources – time, money, and people – to a modernization project. It is a major investment, and with the cost of failure so high, paralysis by analysis can easily set in. Also, modernization projects traditionally take a long time – months or years, rather than days or weeks. For this reason, projects don’t even get off the ground. With the rapid change in technology and demands by the consumers, you are already behind before you get started.

Solutions that blend the forward thinking of developer communities [open source] and understanding of legacy systems can remove this roadblock. OpenLegacy has developed a unique, open source approach that will stay in pace with the speed of technology evolution and also understands legacy systems. With this combination prototyping can happen in days giving confidence to get those needed mobilization projects started and in many cases, the project is implemented in weeks.

Band-Aid solutions can be very expensive

While you weigh the pros and cons of undertaking a legacy modernization project, you naturally look for an interim solution that will allow you to work around the barriers between your legacy systems and the mobile world.

The problem, though, is that middleware, enterprise service bus (ESB), and screen scraping solutions can be costly and brings with it a heavy infrastructure that may not be needed for your mobile app. If you find that your chosen solution is not the best solution for your company, too bad. Vendor agreements mean that you are locked in, and because they are not open source, although you may be able to “trial” them out you still have restrictions, time limits, etc. With open source, you have the freedom to try it out with vendor involvement until you are ready for the next step. If you’d like to learn more about how we modernize legacy systems in the real world, check out our case studies.

Tags: Legacy Modernization, Open APIs, Integration

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