RealTime IT News

HP in Push to Help IT Modernize Old Apps

HP has unveiled a program designed to help clients move their aging mainframe applications to more modern languages and platforms. Such efforts to bring old COBOL applications into the rich Internet application (RIA)/Web 2.0 world are not unusual but it is rare to get a company the size of HP behind it.

The HP Modernization Factory program, announced Tuesday, offers companies assistance in examining existing code and determining what can and must be done to port it. HP also offers offers the tools to accomplish the port. This new program is different from a similar project HP initiated a few years back that helps make vintages apps more SOA-friendly. With the Modernization Factory, HP actually helps companies migrate the apps to a new language and platform.

Paul Evans, worldwide director of application modernization at HP (NYSE: HPQ), said that there is a growing interest at IT shops to move applications off older systems and "modernize" them, although at this point, he conceded, there's more interest than actual work being done.

"Ten percent of the market is on the move toward modernizing their apps and 80 percent is watching the 10 percent to see how it goes," he told InternetNews.com. "We did this because we're seeing our customers beginning to accelerate modernizing apps either to save money or for greater agility and flexibility, with a high focus on legacy apps on the mainframe."

He noted reports from research firms such as Gartner and IDC put application and datacenter maintenance at around 70 percent of total IT spending. "Business wants you to innovate. They don't want you to stand still, but because they are spending so much money on maintenance, that doesn't leave them much money for innovation," said Evans.

HP will offer three tools for the assessment, but they will not be sold to customers. Rather, the tools will be used by HP's services unit to perform the modernization process. The Modernization Profile tool analyzes an application and breaks it down by subsystems based on their relative complexity and I/O volume.

A grid with color-coded bars then shows which are the toughest to modernize, the easiest, which apps would benefit the most and which would gain the least.

The second tool is the Clone Set Analyzer, which looks for duplicate blocks of code in the application. The third tool is the Clone Pattern Analyzer, which shows "hidden patterns of code reuse" to help group together similar applications.

HP's "modernization centers" will be based in five SOA centers the company has set up around the world. The idea is that as customers become interested and willing to talk modernization, they can visit these centers for a hands-on look at what HP's consultants and tools can do for them.

Staff at these centers will be experts at legacy technologies, such as IBM's CICS and MQ Series and the zOS operating system. They will perform the analysis and explain the test results to the customers. The company charges $50,000 for an initial review and assessment of a customer's systems.

Do they then get sold HP hardware? Not necessarily, Evans said. "When we do our first work with the customer, we try not to predetermine the environment because that would (influence) our analysis. Of course we'd like them to buy HP hardware, but first I want to examine the apps and what they want," he said.