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Legacy modernization isn't an easy task, which is why in some situations an organization may opt to bring in a service provider. To achieve the maximum cost-saving benefits, it's crucial that the relationship between a client and a vendor be solid. An organization's laundry list of business needs and provider deliverables needs to be kept in mind when it's hiring consultants and buying products for business transformation needs.
Margaret Goldberg, associate analyst at Ovum IT, researches legacy modernization trends. In this Q&A, she shares her insights into how to select an application modernization vendor and the important considerations that an organization should take into account before it starts a project.
Who is involved on the customer and service provider side of the legacy modernization project?
Margaret Goldberg: That will vary. There are different kinds of modernization projects, and it depends on when the vendor comes in and on the lifecycle of the engagement. Not all application modernization goes from A to B. A lot of times an enterprise willstart an application modernization project and only get so far and then bring in a different vendor.
True modernization is an ongoing cycle and takes place in multiple stages. An enterprise can be somewhere other than [at] the starting stage, so it might not need that rationalization piece or portfolio assessment. A service provider can bring in consultants, engineers and account managers because it's important for the last piece to maintain that partnership level for a lot of these engagements.
For the enterprise side, it comes down to who the vendors have access to, who is invested and what is being changed within the overall portfolio. For example, if you bring in social media because you need to ramp up your marketing, your [customer relationship management] CRM, you're going to have more of the [chief marketing officer] CMO involvement. It really depends and varies according to each engagement.
What should enterprise architects look for from the business side?
Goldberg: You want a vendor who understands the market, the requirements, what technologies make the most sense, what can be leveraged, and who understands internal business needs. For some enterprises looking to do application modernization projects, reducing the overall cost is important. For organizations struggling in the market, they need to reduce the costs in order to reinvest savings back into other parts of their business.
What capabilities should be in a legacy modernization suite from a service provider?
Goldberg: The rationalization piece is key and can come in at any stage within an engagement lifecycle. The basic ones are the four Rs: re-host, re-architect, replace and re-platform. Those are the basic pieces, but of course every vendor will have a different taxonomy and approach to modernization projects. It comes down to an enterprise's needs. Where are those drivers coming from? Is it coming from the business side? Is it coming from the IT side?
An important part of what you get from a service provider is a pre-modernization assessment. What is that?
Goldberg: It's an application portfolio assessment, a rationalization piece. It's understanding what you have as an enterprise within your app portfolio. One of the challenges within modernization projects is being able to define end goals and figure out what you want from those engagements. If you don't know where you are, where you've been, it's going to be difficult to define those goals.
A lot of times enterprises will have invested in their own IT, so there is quite a bit at stake in those applications. At the same time, there is a decent amount of mission-critical applications, so it's important to understand how they tie into other application portfolios and vice versa.
What does post-transformation training include?
Goldberg: Implementing change management, making sure everyone understands the use cases and are on board to use it. It's very possible the implementation and go-live can occur without a hitch. For example, a health care provider has put in place digital records, and all the technical aspects may have gone well, but the nurses, doctors, HR and the rest of the staff have no idea how to use the new technology. It basically means the new system is useless for them.
If the IT department isn't amply prepared to train them, it also creates issues. Enterprises should consider whether they will have to budget for that kind of training. Some organizations end up handing over [their] entire application suite to a vendor as part of a [management]/service agreement, and for some enterprises that might make the most sense.
Editor's note: Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.