The Scoop: Tech Leaders Modernize IT Environments to Improve Customer Experiences
February 2, 2017 | Technology trends
Ken Harper Director, Mainframe Services
A special Forrester Consulting report commissioned by Ensono.
In our always-on, on-demand world, customer expectations are high for new and better experiences. The reality is that there is no more middleman. Companies are increasingly going direct-to-consumer. If customers don’t get what they want from the experience, they quickly move on.
Ensono recently commissioned Forrester to evaluate the state of modernization—the challenges that exist and the benefits companies achieve as a result.
Maintaining Big Iron: Because Rust Never Sleeps
Lagging, out-of-date apps pose an existential threat to the mainframe. Say you have legacy technology tools of record being used in a mobile environment. If you don’t take advantage of new technology, your apps become an anchor. You have to do a screen scrape, or it might take more hops or processes to get the data.
Also, the older an app gets, the less flexible it is in terms of an entry point for modernization. For example, I don’t know how an API would get into some older custom or modified language code written and compiled decades ago.
The good news is that companies like CA Technologies, Compuware and IBM are focusing new tools to augment the people and process with modernizing apps without a programmer having to go in and compile a new program. It’s more of a cut-and-paste process on the front end, where the new workforce doesn’t have to know these higher level languages.
What the Cool Kids Are Doing
When we asked tech leaders what they were doing to modernize, we got fairly consistent answers, including these:
Installing new security
With a billion user accounts compromised, the Yahoo hack sent out some serious shivers. Nobody wants to be next. Forrester research shows that 70 percent of respondents are increasing security—from apps and infrastructure to security appliances.
Moving to the cloud
The second most common approach to modernization is moving apps to a cloud environment. That starts with mapping out which applications will bring the most value with a move to the cloud. From there, you’ll need to select the best approach for migration and determine how to deal with critical issues such as security, governance and disaster recovery.
Migration to modern API standardized protocols such as REST and SOAP is another form of modernization being employed. Improved APIs offer consistency and resiliency between services, and allow for creation of customizable web and mobile applications.
Retiring redundant applications
Savvy CIOs have realized that a sprawling application landscape leaves almost no room for innovation. It also impedes business agility. Increasingly, organizations are developing a clear strategy for reducing the clutter—retiring outdated, redundant and sometimes entirely obsolete systems.
Increasing dev-ops practices
Tech leaders are increasingly embracing agile development practices to get things out faster, better, cheaper and in a more qualitative way. Yet, companies can negate these benefits when they try to operate under two diverse application philosophies. The key is to have everybody moving in the same direction. If agile development is adopted in one area, adopt it for everybody.
It May Be Time for an App Review
Even the sharpest CIOs may not be aware of all the outdated systems running in their application landscape. Likewise, they may not grasp the true cost of maintaining individual applications—or how many are actually required to provide business value and support future growth.
Here, a thorough discovery process can help map out what these applications are doing and how they’re interconnected.
Beware Application Apathy
Finally, be wary of falling into application apathy. The longer you wait, the more it will cost you. It’s like those old commercials for Fram oil filters: Pay now for the filter or pay later to replace the engine.
Ultimately, there has to be a continued investment of time, effort and capital with maintaining your applications. If not, you risk becoming irrelevant with your customers and inefficient with your infrastructure.