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IBM Has Toolsets for Application Modernization

Joseph Gulla writes about applications in general and modernization by following this three-topic flow: strategies, methods and toolsets.

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Last week, I continued this series on the development and rapid change in systems, networks and applications as I moved the topic from application strategies to methods. In this part of the series, I’m writing about applications in general and modernization specifically by following this three-topic flow: strategies, methods and toolsets. This week is about toolsets for application modernization.

Why Toolsets?

Toolsets in support of modernization have a surprisingly large role to play in any organization’s modernization project or program. In general, toolsets contain programs to support tasks from analysis and planning to source-code conversion. But examined more closely, many toolsets contain desk procedures, data and skilled human support to help them take on an even broader and important role. Thus toolsets are typically an important combination of software, action steps, data and technical personnel that turn the strategy and methods into revised and updated applications.

Toolsets as Part of IT Services

360 Quadrants provides an application modernization services quadrant that compares 34 vendors in application modernization services across 73 criteria. Included in their evaluation is an evaluation of service tools. IBM, Accenture and HCL finished first, second and third in the latest evaluation.
 
IBM has a portfolio of modernization services that features a broad range, including application portfolio assessment, application migration, user interface modernization, application integration, application re-hosting, and post-modernization services. IBM Cloud Application Platform gives users the toolset required for refactoring existing environments to platforms that use the latest technology in hybrid environments. Companies have the flexibility to apply current applications through the use of microservices, containers, integrated DevOps and Kubernetes technology.

Toolsets Often Support Application Strategy Engagements

When consultants help an organization formulate a modernization strategy, they typically call on the work that they have done for other clients. The most effective consulting organizations maintain a database from their past engagements that contains artifacts like proposals, contracts, project plans, status reports, project reports and metrics like start and end dates, project risk, and remediation reports. When they collect this kind of data, firms can use it in many ways, from improving their estimates to sharing information about your project success and reusing materials that are common to all modernization projects.

Templates Derived From Previous Work

For consulting organizations that purposely resist reuse of materials created for previous customers, templates are the answer. Templates, developed with the purpose of creating a certain level of consistency and content quality, are used to provide a starting point of materials for every project. IT consultants appreciate getting this kind of help.
Consulting firms have personnel that assist consultants with templates addressing proposals, project plans and reports.
 
Proposal templates typically include problems to be addressed, as well as typical costs and benefits of the project. Project plan templates list major milestones for the project, as well as details necessary to effectively manage the implementation of the strategy work and other types of projects. Report templates contain sections, heading and subheadings likely to appear in the typical customer’s report.

Toolsets Can Support Methods Work

Toolsets play an even bigger role when it comes to the method used to carry out the project. All the toolset examples for strategy work, like proposals and project plans, apply to methods, but many other tools apply as well. Additionally, the method used for the modernization will likely employ tools to help with the goal of automating many routine tasks when possible. Obeo, on their Application Modernization Tools web page, lists circumstances when tools are useful, like automated migration, redesign, reverse specification, quality analysis, migration checklist, mapping and refactoring. These tools help to analyze and then transform.

Try Harvesting Intellectual Capital

Teams who perform application modernization work at the method-level, for example, changing the UI of the application or reworking it for DevOps. As they carry out their work, they often invent tools and procedures. Once they’re invented, they’re often refined with many different customers over many projects and years. These practitioners create tools because they’re close to what’s needed, so they fill the gap. It can be both fun and effective.
 
How do organizations identify and gather these artifacts for use? The simplest way is to establish a knowledge network where members of the community can self identify and contribute materials. This is the minimum requirement.

A Better Knowledge Network Is Worth the Effort

When a bunch of unedited contributions are made to a network, you quickly see that a more balanced solution is needed. For a more useful knowledge network, a knowledge engineer should be hired to perform specialized tasks such as:
 
• Participate in the implementation, rollout and adoption of an innovative knowledge management solution 
• Drive availability and adoption of knowledge from associates for use with customers
• Collect, synthesize and publish knowledge content onto the knowledge management system for use by the community
• Assist in automation of knowledge management to ensure knowledge is always up to date
 
You can intuit from this short list of examples why a knowledge network leader is desired. Their job is to maximize the usefulness of the material collected and reject material that doesn’t meet minimum standards. Knowledge network leaders can usually connect a junior contributor with a mentor to get the work to an acceptable level.

Next Post

Next post, I’ll finish this series on systems, networks and applications by looking to the future.
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