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The old with the new

Bill Errico | April 13, 2010
Legacy computer systems should not hamper cloud computing implementation

Updating IT systems for Web compatibility is a constant challenge that is faced by many companies today. Many businesses are considering cloud computing due to its obvious benefits like cost savings, efficiency and accessibility. As the cloud facilitates access to mission-critical information through Web-enabled applications, organisations will be able to easily access important information at a moment's notice. This could be especially helpful as the timeliness of shared information can make the difference between the success and failure of a business.

Despite the benefits, some companies are still hesitant in turning to the cloud because of security risks and concerns. Furthermore, companies operating mission-critical applications that rely on the historical programming language COBOL feel tied to the mainframe. The good news is that COBOL-based organisations looking to realise the benefits of cloud computing can make practical progress towards leveraging these benefits without jumping straight into the cloudhistorical applications and all.

As companies become more dependent on Web capabilities for enhanced availability and streamlined logistical processes, upgrading critical applications is a must. While many companies still rely on COBOL for mission-critical applications, it can be a challenge to integrate this with modern technologies. Application modernisation allows organisations to operate mainframe applications, like those written in COBOL, in a Web environment, ultimately enabling Web compatibility without significant budget impact or risk involved.

A compelling alternative to rewriting or replacing the applications, modernisation, fosters communication between historical systems and contemporary solutions while preserving the unique value encompassed in existing IT systems. Modernisation also provides organisations with greater flexibility, enabling rapid response to changes in processes as needed.

As companies start to realise the value of cloud computing, organisations that rely on historical systems can be quick to follow through the use of modernisation solutions. Modernising critical applications through service-oriented architecture (SOA) provides organisations otherwise bound to the mainframe environment with the ability to leverage these modern technologies.

Inserting an added layer of technology, COBOL applications can now operate in a Web 2.0 environment, providing a responsive rich Internet application, using unchanged code. The now-Web-based applications continue to work the same, because they are the same. Business rules may have moved platforms with a Web 2.0 interface added, but quality analysis time is ultimately reduced because the application business logic remains untouched.

Modernisation solutions not only enable companies to transition into the cloud, but they can now do it at their own pace. As security risks are often cited as the number one concern when upgrading systems for cloud computing compatibility, modernisation enables a step-by-step approach for those wary of security risks.

A practical step towards the cloud enables organisations to leverage the same benefits, without making the full commitment. Transitioning to a private cloud is one option, providing the same Web benefits from within the boundary of a companys own firewall. A private cloud enables them to leverage benefits like pay-as-you-go licensing and elasticityfrom within their own data centres, at their own pace.


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