Optimum speed: HP application modernization promises a clear path for legacy system upgrades

Hewlett-Packard says it now has a way of letting companies see the right path to take when it comes to updating legacy systems. If the methodology works as promised, it could spur a cycle of companies supercharging aging applications that still perform critical business functions—albeit at albeit at less-than-optimum speeds.<br/>

05/29/2008


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

Paul Evans, HP’s worldwide director of application modernization services, says when HP recently surveyed European business executives, 94 percent indicated it important to have a strategy for keeping business applications up to date, but only 19 percent actually had such a strategy in place.

Evans says companies tend to avoid updating legacy systems because many of those systems perform functions that provide a competitive edge, and up to now the only real option for upgrading these systems has been to replace them. This typically leads to a loss of that critical functionality. Instead, companies have retained these systems—many of which still run on mainframes—and absorb huge maintenance costs as the systems continue to age.

“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.”

This is a big problem for manufacturers, which according Evans comprise the second-largest users of mainframe systems, trailing only the financial services industry.

Recently, Evan says, HP has sensed a growing frustration among its customer base about the performance of legacy systems, and that prompted development of a set of tools and services for transforming legacy applications.

These capabilities, unveiled this spring, include:
• An HP Modernization Factory;
• Tools for analyzing the performance of legacy systems; and
• HP Modernization Showcase centers.

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

The HP Modernization Factory comprises a group of HP consultants with expertise in modernizing legacy systems. These experts can be dispatched anywhere in the world as needed. The HP Modernization Showcase Centers will be established in strategic locations, allowing customers to come in and see demonstrations of how various modernization strategies would work in their businesses.

The tools for analyzing legacy system performance are:
HP Modernization Profile : Analyzes an applications composition to assist in the selection of areas that may be key contributors to the high maintenance costs and low performance;
HP Clone Set Analyzer : Identifies duplicate code to avoid repetition of modernization efforts and provide economies of scale to reduce costs; and
HP Clone Pattern Analyzer : Reveals hidden patterns of code reuse to group similar applications and speed overall performance.

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

Evans likens using this system to taking an X-ray to diagnose a broken bone. “Before X-rays, doctors would feel your arm and say it was broken. Now they show you the picture; you see where the break is; and they can tell you how to fix it.”

Evans says HP saved a U.S-based logistics provider $1 million by using these tools to show that adding more processing power to its existing mainframe was not the best approach for modernizing one of its critical applications.

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


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

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 that originates in various formats into a single format that allows for it all to be processed by the same application.

Over time, the number of number of formats in which this company was receiving data has grown significantly, and that was hampering the performance of its critical business application.
“We could have made [the business application] go faster by adding more power to the mainframe,” Evans says. “But there are now 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.”





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