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Remember: Don’t Crush ‘Em, Restore ‘Em

(By guest Blogger, Gib Bassett)

The title of this posting is taken from a saying repeated at the conclusion of a cable television show about classic cars, and aptly summarizes the focus of this newsbit I saw today on DM Review’s website: "Major Software AG Customer Survey Reveals New Priorities for Legacy Systems".  Software AG, an infrastructure software provider, surveyed 180 of its clients to understand their views on legacy systems.  The results cited in the article parallel the value of Business Rules Management Systems (BRMS) to legacy systems; all good news for Software AG and BRMS vendors, maybe less good news for application vendors trying to sell their latest wares.

What I thought was particularly notable is that results show an interest among their customers in retaining and improving legacy systems, yet the way to get started wasn’t so clear – in fact, it appears intimidating.  This I believe is where BRMS can be a smart first step in the right direction.  Consider these quotes:

"The survey indicates that respondents have moved away from IT-centric considerations (such as cost savings and platform consolidation) as their primary focus for legacy systems, and are much more concerned with business-centric issues such as real-time access to legacy data, agility and flexibility to meet business demands."

"…respondents no longer look predominantly to rewriting, replacing or outsourcing as the primary strategies for dealing with legacy systems. Modernization is now the overwhelming preference."

"More than 60 percent of respondents analyzed were "very" or "extremely" concerned about "the flexibility of this [legacy] system to be quickly modified to meet changing business requirements."

BRMS address these issues very specifically, in particular the need for agility and flexibility to meet changing business requirements.  BRMS employing an EDM approach allow the separation of rules and policies driving legacy systems from the core operating environment.  By doing so, BRMS allow IT to empower business users to maintain aspects of legacy systems they know best, but with a level of governance expected for key operational systems.  BRMS are also optimized for execution and can therefore greatly increase the performance of legacy systems, injecting newfound life into once "rusty" applications.

BRMS also address a concern shared by a majority of surveyed customers regarding the ability to support enterprise scale, real time interactions among legacy and other systems.  By maintaining a central repository of the rules diving operational decisions, BRMS allow other systems to access and utilize the logic driving legacy systems.

"Nearly 60 percent of respondents analyzed were "very" or "extremely" concerned about "real-time interaction between this [legacy] system and other systems to support business process automation.""

The following quote by Joe Gentry, Software AG CTO of Enterprise Transaction Systems yet further illustrates the relevance of EDM-compliant BRMS to legacy modernization.  BRMS enable the creation of "Decision Services", which are web services that encapsulate rules and rules applications that can be consumed by other Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) components:

"Customers are no longer asking, 'How do we get rid of these systems?' Instead they are asking, 'How do we take the business value that already resides in our legacy systems and bring this value into our new enterprise architecture to deliver business results?' I believe that the trend toward SOA has a lot to do with this shift in attitude."

The article concludes by citing Software AG’s five step program for legacy modernization, which taken as a whole appears like a complex proposition.  A far easier and more straightforward approach would be employing a BRMS.  Doing so will get your legacy applications off the jack stands and back on the road a lot sooner, looking and performing a lot better.

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