The legacy dilemma: Transformation without impact

Johannesburg, 12 Jan 2021
Read time 3min 50sec
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Modern companies reap tremendous benefits through DevOps and cloud environments, producing and integrating microservices at industrial scale. But these changes cannot wholly replace layers of legacy code in their systems, thus cutting short or compromising the benefits of digital transformation, and middleware technologies are vital to crossing this barrier.

Not many organisations have had the luck of creating greenfields operations. Many still rely on deep and rich libraries of legacy code, some stemming back to mainframe systems and languages such as COBOL. These need to coexist on new distributed systems, utilising new generation languages on both the server and client sides to address the needs of Web applications and mobile presences. In fact, they need to achieve more than coexistence, says Leonard Solomyak, Principal Software Engineer at mWtech: "To develop the most suitable business logic, one needs to move to distributed computing the systems with libraries that are filled with code that initially were on the mainframe."

That scenario poses several challenges, not the least being that it can lock skilled IT professionals into particular skills, limiting their opportunities to understand and master other technologies. Though vendors of legacy systems have built solutions to help integrate these two worlds, that comes with drawbacks. Specifically, those solutions can limit the legacy applications to certain services and generate efficiency concerns around coding for such hybrid environments.

Yet if suitable visual aids and interfaces augmented that process, it can unlock greater potential. In other words, the legacy environments' interface logic is reflected in the more modern system interfaces, bridging the usage experience gap often caused by modernisation projects. If people can apply their existing knowledge in new transformed environments, they will bring that well-honed business logic into the new era. This approach makes screen coding much more attractive in the monumental legacy rewrite process.

Such screen sessions become a part of the Web navigation process through the optimisation of the recorded code. The mainframe is appropriately represented, while smart tools provide the transformation logic to change HTML coding drastically. These modern-looking interfaces resemble the technical and systems featured in the legacy maps. But they do not create the typical technological barriers for business users who are accustomed to working with the old systems.

Best of all, it's not a disruption to the delicate legacy environments, said Solomyak: "The screen emulation approach has an advantage of almost not having to change any of the back-end code, minimising the effort of maintaining legacy business systems. The emulation works for contemporary Web pages as well to merge both worlds in one reasonably modern Web interface."

This middleware approach doesn't just accommodate legacy environments. It also brings that information into modern systems. By scraping data from the screens and into the service memory, those can be processed and shared with customers in other areas. Additionally, the middleware emulation can serve as a testing tool for maintaining and improving legacy applications.

Not only would this approach help to truly integrate legacy and modern environments for their users. The cost of such Web development will be a fraction of the traditional API-driven architecture approach, enabling business interfaces and back-end business logic as well as the data models optimised through the years on running on the mainframes.

Required changes are adhered to through stylesheets and adjusting cosmetic back-end modifications. With such speed of development and cost-cutting, the seamless transformation will allow business data views and business functions APIs to transfer to Web applications residing both in the cloud and on-premises.

This is the power of middleware, as provided by middleware technologies, aka, mWtech. We specialise in providing the architectural and engineering services that enable you to leverage your transformation platforms.

Don't create transformations without real impact. If you need to align legacy and modern environments, middleware solutions and mWtech have a proven track record of successful systems integration and collaboration transformation. We get it all to work, allow your people to use their experiences, and do so without inviting more cost of complexity.

If bringing legacy integration into contemporary computing environments keeps you awake at night, contact mWtech today.