Is Java, .NET Migration Worth the Dough?

According to the Yankee Group, 60 percent of businesses cling to legacy software for four to six years. Research fellow Laura DiDio says that’s because enterprises are concerned with the cost of migration. But should they be?

Earlier this month Northdoor, a London-based independent IT consultancy, issued a warning to enterprises looking to re-develop legacy apps into service-oriented architectures built on Microsoft .NET and Java J2EE. The group says in-house re-developments are a waste of resources, and claims conversion tools aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

“Legacy migration is not a waste of time and money if you have a need for legacy apps in the future,” counters DiDio, who specializes in app infrastructure and software platforms research. “Both of these environments are very healthy.”

But Northdoor says the migration process isn’t only costly but slow. Legacy experts are growing scarce and limited languages have perhaps antiquated these types of apps. And Northdoor reps speak critically of code conversion methods, encouraging app transformation solutions.

“We estimate that up to 90 percent of application development budgets are actually spent on maintaining legacy applications,” says David Ballard, consultancy director, Northdoor. “By using application transformation services, organizations can migrate core applications to modern environments cost-effectively and quickly.”

Some fourth-generation languages (GL4) enterprises might want to migrate from include PowerBuilder, Gupta/Centura, Oracle Forms, Visual Basic 6, RPG and Delphi.

The consultancy suggests a five-step approach to automated app transformation–planning, architecture design, code transformation, refinement and implementation. And they say app transformations should be a key component of legacy portfolio management.

Perhaps a decade ago standalone migration was commonplace but DiDio says enterprises are no longer as fortunate because of the “symbiotic” and “independent” nature of apps today. And, of 500 companies polled by the Yankee Group, 90 percent reported use of three different operating systems. Though re-development of legacy apps is by no means obsolete, she says. Enterprises using UNIX systems commonly resort to re-programming.

Just as many enterprises plan to deploy more than one virtualization solution, many companies will find a niche for both .NET and Java, says DiDio. Migration won’t be a necessity for all enterprises but DiDio suggests orgs develop a five-year transition plan to prevent developers from building something before knowing whether or not it will integrate with other apps within an enterprise.

“Developers, as a group, tend to be iconoclastic,” she says. “Don’t overestimate or underestimate the guy in the IT department who wants to play with this manually.”

About the Author

Jason Turcotte is an assistant editor at Application Development Trends. He can be reached at [email protected].