Modernization Approaches for the 21st Century: CEO Interview Part 1 [Videos]

Our founder and CEO, Slavik Zorin, has been a pioneer in the field of legacy application modernization for 20 years. His approach to modernizations has been quite different from traditional modernizations. Back in 2011—yes, seven years ago, he was interviewed about his vision for the future, modern-day modernization approaches now made real by his company, Synchrony Systems.

Here are a few excerpts from that interview that still ring true in 2018

The Differences and Benefits to the Synchrony Systems Approach to Modernization

“The mainstream of legacy application modernization is a people-driven business. In addition to transforming the programming language, it promises to transform the old application architecture to the new service-oriented architecture, improve code quality and reuse, and in the process, redesign the old User Interface to modern web-based UI.

This is a great promise, but it comes packaged in a roadmap that is upside-down. It is upside-down because any structural or architectural redesign actually breaks the functionality of the application. Changing the programming language and the underlying application architecture and design at the same time turns the modernization into a rewrite and makes it a people-driven business that is labor-intensive, complex, expensive, and therefore fraught with the risk of ever completing.

We offer an alternative—an automated, software-driven solution called migration that eliminates the current manual, labor-intensive and error-prone approach to modernization. Migration focuses on software asset preservation while modernization focuses on its improvement. Modernization should be done on the modern platform using modern tools, so the main goal should be to get the legacy application to the target platform as soon as possible. Migration transforms the legacy application to the target platform “as-is” – without changing the original software architecture or design. As the first step of modernization, migration makes the transition to the target platform manageable and predictable. Unlike a rewrite, it guarantees to complete on time and on budget and ensures that the application functions and feels exactly the same as the original.

Our motto for application modernization is: migrate the application to the target platform and get it working first; do everything else second.”

The Current Landscape of Legacy Application Modernization Companies

“For the most part, legacy application modernization is a services industry. The industry is quite fragmented with companies focusing on their own niche legacy market. Migration software, if there is one at all, is proprietary, and only gets used by the companies who developed it. It is hard to scale such a business model since it can only sustain a handful of modernization projects at a time. No one company, in particular, is a recognized leader in application modernization.

The System Integrators who win the big enterprise modernization and portfolio optimization deals generally subcontract specific application modernization projects to local vendors with unique skills in certain areas of their specialty. Unless applications are retired or replaced with off-the-shelf products, modernization projects are sold as professional services and not as software.

Before anyone can fully capitalize on the large software application legacy, the current fractured market of niche companies needs to be consolidated and industrialized. A new scaleable solution has to emerge in order to bring together all stakeholders into a single integrated and collaborative modernization platform that is a win-win for everyone. We call that platform MaaS – Modernization-as-a-Service, and we believe it will change the industry as we know it.”

Why Is There No $1 Billion Market Leader Today?

Readers Note: There is still no $1 billion market leader in 2018

“The market for legacy modernization is clearly huge – and global. By some estimates, in excess of $100 billion. But only a fraction of the opportunity is currently being realized by any one company.

I think it is obvious that application modernization is a hard problem with a large barrier to entry for anyone. It requires deep knowledge of source and target software platforms. In general, the skills required to perform application modernization are quite uncommon and not easily acquired. To top it off, very few companies have captured their experience into software that addresses this challenge in a systematic and repeatable fashion without relying exclusively on services. Services are required to deliver a modernization solution, but only a software platform can scale it. This is the MaaS platform I just spoke about, and it is the major ingredient for a $1B market leader to emerge.

But for such a platform to gain global acceptance, it will need backing from a major industry force. Modernization projects are not just simple upgrades. Modernization promises customers a smooth transition to a new platform where their mission-critical applications will continue running their businesses uninterrupted. This is a tall order! Companies modernize only the applications that they maintain, and they maintain only the ones that matter – the ones which bring value and run their businesses. Corporate IT needs to bridge the gap between the Software Development Lifecycle, something that is well known, and the Software Modernization Lifecycle, something that is not. It will take a company like IBM to help organizations bridge that gap. With enough clout backing this approach and the MaaS platform, I believe we have the necessary ingredients for the emergence of a $1B enterprise.”

Read more about Modernization as a Service (MaaS), the new technology-driven approach to modernizations.