Analysis of core applications

.pearl-hilighted-word {background-color: #ffffff !important; color: #000000 !important;}

Transform your core applications to be future-proof

By Guido Falkenberg, Senior Vice President, Software AG and Karlheinz Kronauer, Senior Director of Natural Product Management, Software AG

From conducting a comprehensive analysis to establishing key decision parameters, we discuss the journey to a successful core application transformation geared to the needs of the business model.

Issue 1, 2017 Download PDF

Core applications in a changing IT landscape

Every large evolving IT application landscape has extensive business-critical applications that have been developed individually over the span of many years. Their ability to withstand the future must be put to the test. These customized core applications may implement core processes or manage huge streams of financial data at organizations in the public and private sector. Any failure on their part would cause colossal financial damage to the company and/or irreparably harm its image.

It is up to IT decision makers to determine the future of these applications: should they be replaced, re-implemented or modernized? Errors or insufficient consideration of certain aspects (e.g., complexity, expertise, transparency, governance) during this decision phase will lead to failed projects (“money pits”) or missed deadlines and budgets without adding value to the business or IT.

In order to mitigate risks, maximize potential benefits and ensure project success, an extensive core application analysis must be incorporated into the decision making process.

Figure 1:
Core Application Analysis and Transformation

The analysis must consider technology and business functionality of the core application as well as all associated stakeholders (e.g., business unit, users, programmers, IT operations) knowledge.

The ultimate goal is a gradual, transparent and controllable application transformation that addresses the current and future requirements of a growing digital world without jeopardizing the intrinsic value or operation of existing applications.

The need for comprehensive analysis

How can a transformation be successful if the dependencies between systems are not clear, if the modules and elements aren’t transparent and interfaces are poorly maintained and only minimally documented? How can a transformation take place if you can’t tell which modules and components are used in a business process and how? What knowledge of applications will be lost when staff members soon retire? How do you realistically calculate the value of factors such as cost, time and risk given these conditions?

A comprehensive analysis must address these issues in order to establish a solid information base for decisions to be made in order to evolve applications into a future-proof architecture in a controlled way.

The analysis of an application must involve all relevant organizational entities, i.e., the business unit, research & development and sales. The analysis must encompass the business and IT contexts of the core application, for example, industry-specific methods, business processes, software products, IT infrastructures and IT architectures.

Only a complete analysis of business and IT contexts will enable you to make a thorough evaluation of your core application to make decisions with calculated risks. In addition to application details, the dependencies of system components and systems in the development and runtime environments (e.g., programming languages and environments, database systems, middleware, job control) as well as IT infrastructure (e.g., operating systems, hardware, devices) must be transparent.

Static aspects (e.g., application structure, source code, interfaces) as well as dynamic criteria (e.g., runtime behavior) must be considered. All relevant business and IT factors must be documented consistently and in relation to each other. All stakeholders should have access to the results of the analysis to view and to use for collaborative decisions.

Business-critical applications whether dialog or batch, are highly complex. This is not only reflected in the source code but also in the respective business and database transaction logic. There are also multiple interfaces involved that tightly link internal and external IT systems, servicing a variety of business processes and user groups.

Core applications run primarily on mainframe platforms or highly scalable server platforms and employ technologies such as Natural, COBOL, Adabas, DB2® or VSAMTM. Because these systems have been optimized over many years, they achieve a high level of operational quality that is apparent through their fulfillment of rigorous Service-Level Agreements (SLAs).

Total transparency and complete knowledge of these linked applications is at risk due to factors such as employee retirement and the ensuing generational transition. Up-to-date, consistent documentation of IT implementation and the related business functionality is often not available.

Figure 2:
Complexity of core applications

An integrated analysis platform

In order to document all context-related elements, establish their relationships and share them with various stakeholders, you need an integrated, collaborative analysis platform. That is where information on business functionality is defined in relation to core applications and overriding elements of the IT portfolio and enterprise architecture.

This gives all stakeholders a comprehensive, consistent and central knowledge base for inquiries and decisions.

Figure 3:
Integrated Analysis Platform

Software AG’s Digital Business Platform provides the basis for this analysis platform with integrated functionality to conduct comprehensive evaluations of core applications.

Your path to success

Analysis of applications, business functionality and the entire IT portfolio are the starting point for making decisions that will facilitate a reliable evolution plan to transform your current core application architecture into a future-proof, target architecture geared to the needs of the business model.

A successful transformation requires comprehensive, relevant analysis results. Software AG provides companies and public-sector organizations with cutting-edge technologies and expertise enabling them to transform to future-proof applications on time and in budget and at virtually no risk.

To learn more, read our white paper Analysis of business-critical core applications