50 Ways to Leave Your Legacy
Insurance Experts' Forum, August 18, 2010
In a new video posted here at the INN site, Richard Znidarsic, VP of Accident Fund Holding Co. asked Matt Josefowicz of Novarica (joined by INN's Carrie Burns) what one technology he would recommend throwing out the window to help insurers get a fresh start.
Matt gave a great answer, observing that there are a lot of legacy systems out there that should be reappraised, but these systems need to be reviewed in light of the business value they continue to deliver.
And they may still be delivering value with a unique process. Or, it may be too costly to tear the thing apart. Or, the original programmers may be retired and living somewhere in southern Florida while making sure not to leave a current phone number or e-mail address with you.
Fortunately, there are many avenues now available to either migrate or modernize legacy systems to bring them up to code—in most cases, gradually. Some options include the following:
• Service orientation: Expose key legacy functions as standardized services that can be accessed by newer applications.
• Virtualization: A service layer, deployed with newer, user-friendly systems, can make the connections to the back end, while shielding end users—and developers for that matter—from the complexities of the underlying legacy system.
• Code migration: There are tools out there that will either convert COBOL code to newer languages such as Java, or run the COBOL within a “containerized” environment.
• Managed hosting: Legacy-based applications can be moved to a third-party managed hosting provider (pseudo-cloud), and you can let them worry about the intricacies of running a mainframe.
• Hardware/OS upgrades: In the case of mainframes, IBM offers new versions (System z) that will support older legacy applications, running on OS/390, but other parts of the system will support Java, Linux, and Unix for newer applications, and also make migration a lot easier.
Okay, that's not 50 ways to leave legacy yet, but you get the picture. So don't slip out the back, Jack, but rather, make a new plan, Stan, and you will get yourself free—without the pain and suffering that go with ripping and replacing systems.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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