HP application modernization promises a clear path for legacy system upgrades

Hewlett-Packard (HP) says it now has a way of steering companies onto the right path when it comes to updating legacy systems. If the methodology works as promised, it could spur a cycle of supercharging aging applications that still perform critical business functions at less-than-optimum speeds. HP's recent survey of European business executives found 94 percent of respondents want a strategy...

By Staff September 1, 2008

Hewlett-Packard (HP) says it now has a way of steering companies onto the right path when it comes to updating legacy systems. If the methodology works as promised, it could spur a cycle of supercharging aging applications that still perform critical business functions at less-than-optimum speeds.

HP’s recent survey of European business executives found 94 percent of respondents want a strategy for keeping business applications up to date, but only 19 percent actually have such a process in place.

That’s because companies tend to avoid updating legacy systems since many of them perform functions that provide a competitive edge, and up to now the only real option for upgrading these systems has been to replace them.

“Companies are spending up to 70 percent of their IT budgets to maintain legacy systems. As a result, they are not able to do any innovation,” claims Paul Evans, HP’s worldwide director of application modernization services.

HP says it saved a U.S-based logistics provider $1 million by moving a labor-intensive ETL (extract, transform, and load) application to an HP Integrity server rather adding more power to the mainframe the program was sharing with other applications.

Evans says HP sensed the growing frustration among its customer base surrounding legacy systems performance, which prompted development of a set of tools and services for transforming legacy applications. These capabilities include an HP Modernization Factory, tools for analyzing the performance of legacy systems, and HP Modernization Showcase centers.

Evans says the offerings will help companies modernize legacy systems more cost-effectively, and with less risk.

Tools for analyzing legacy system performance involve an initial HP Modernization Profile, an HP Clone Set Analyzer that identifies duplicate code, and HP Clone Pattern Analyzer, which reveals hidden patterns of code reuse to group similar applications and speed overall performance.

Evans says the tools present a graphical view of which applications should be replaced, retired, or reengineered to improve their overall value to the business. The picture emerges through a series of color-coded graphs and charts pointing out how applications are performing.

The tools reportedly saved a U.S-based logistics provider $1 million by revealing that adding more processing power to the provider’s existing mainframe wasn’t the best approach to modernizing one of its critical applications.

Response times for this application, which tracks goods through the company’s delivery network, had slowed over time. The mainframe vendor suggested adding more processing power at the cost of $2.5 million, according to Evans.

During its analysis, HP found that much of the mainframe’s processing power was devoted to the ETL (extract, transform, and load) function. ETL is a method of putting data from multiple formats into one that can be processed by the same application.

The number of formats in which this particular logistics provider was receiving data was hampering the performance of its critical business application.

“We could have made [the application] go faster by adding more power to the mainframe,” Evans says. “But there are special programs on the market that do nothing but ETL. So we recommended that they lift that function off of the mainframe, and put it on a separate system. They could then move the normalized data to the mainframe as it was needed.”

The total cost for this option, according to Evans: $1 million.

“We also gave them a future-proof solution,” he adds. “They moved the ETL program to an HP Integrity server that can be replaced when necessary, at a cost of $100,000 or less, rather the $1 million-plus it would take to replace a mainframe.”