The requirement for the modernization of green screen legacy applications is an ongoing battle within companies. Do they spend the time and money to make the applications look pretty or should they buy a new “package” that offers new features? Most legacy software is at least 20 years old and is probably running DB2, Cache, Informix, etc. or MultiValue databases!

Modernizing legacy applications means different things to different people.  To some it means making the old green screen applications look “modern or pretty”; to others it means taking advantage of technologies to create new apps focusing on customers, company processes and developing apps for mobile devices and the desktop.

A modernization project protects the millions of dollars that a company has invested in legacy applications. Modernized applications alone will not increase sales adding to a company’s bottom line.

There is phenomenal growth in mobile commerce. Today more than two thirds of online sales occur on mobile devices[i] – suggesting that those businesses that ignore customers using mobile devices or fail to optimize apps for mobile devices will be losing sales and maybe those customers to the competition. Customer centric apps apply to more than just retail – business to consumer. It also applies to a distributor selling to the retailer; to the manufacturer that sells to the distributor as well as the raw material supplier that sells to the manufacturer. In every facet of the business process, customers want to be able to interact with their supplier via a mobile device using an app!

Before beginning a modernization project, these questions should be asked:

  • How many programs need to have that “new look and feel”?
  • How long will it take to modernize the legacy applications?
  • How long will it take to refactor the legacy applications separating the user interface from the business logic?
  • Does the solution require long hand coding?
  • Will the solution provide standardized code or will the developer create spaghetti code that is inherent to long hand programming making it harder to modify?
  • Will the modernized application only run as a web browser application?
  • Will the resulting solution only run on desktop/laptop computers or will it also run-on most mobile phones, tablets, smart TVs and watches providing enhanced customer experiences?
  • Will the modernized app run native on whatever device company management and customers require?
  • Will the existing staff (with some training) be able to do this work or is there the need to hire new technical staff and/or outside consultancies?
  • Will the modernized system keep up to date with technology changes and be easy to modify based upon changes in customer preferences/behaviors and/or market changes and/or internal company procedures?
  • Will the newly modernized legacy software lay a foundation for new app development that will open new business opportunities or will it just provide a pretty face?
  • What planned projects won’t get started or finished?
  • Will the company be joining the Digital Transformation revolution? What is Digital Transformation and why is Markowitz telling me to google it?
  • Will the modernized legacy applications provide added value by increasing sales or just provide a pretty face?
  • Including staff salaries, outside consultancies, the creation of additional IT debt, training, time to market and new technology costs – what is the total cost of the modernization project in year 1, by year 5, by year 10?
  • And if you are thinking of purchasing a new package, including staff salaries, outside consultancies, adding customization to mirror many functions from the old system, the creation of additional IT debt, employee training, time to market and new technology costs – what is the total cost of the new package project in year 1, by year 5, by year 10?
  • What benefits will the company receive from the project?

A decade ago, BlueFinity published a white paper, Solving the MultiValue Dilemma.

It discussed market pressures driving the need to modernize MultiValue applications. Back then it was because almost everyone but MultiValue had developed a GUI presentation layer as standard. That is everyone but those running DB2, Cache, Informix databases plus some others. We were not alone, feel better?

Current market pressures to present application modernity are much greater. Beside having a modern presentation layer on legacy software, companies need to provide customer centric apps (B2B), employee centric apps (B2E) and consumer (retail) centric apps (B2C) running on mobile devices.

The BlueFinity white paper highlighted two approaches/pathways toward modernity:

  • The first pathway was to integrate MultiValue with the web via proprietary products like Redback. The options provided were MultiValue focused and proprietary in nature. Once MultiValue was exposed, web applications were created.
  • The second pathway to modernity was based upon Microsoft .NET technologies using a proprietary connectivity tool, mv.NET from BlueFinity.

MultiValue because of its very nature has always been behind the curve in the adoption of new technologies.

During the past 10 years there was little change in the options for legacy application modernization and new application creation for the web. The recent promotion of RESTful Web Services has opened a new pathway for the modernization of legacy applications and the creation of new web applications; it still requires the use of proprietary connectivity tools. The legacy program’s refactored code and data are exposed and it is up to the developer to choose the technologies to be used for the web applications. The application is long hand coded. The push is toward the creation of web applications and quite frankly web applications that replicate the green screen legacy applications have been around for many years. Granted, RESTful services make modernization a whole lot easier but what if a company requires native desktop and/or native customer, employee, consumer centric mobile apps?

BlueFinity’s approach to modernity has evolved over the past decade with the introduction of Evoke. Evoke is a low-code/no-code Rapid App Development Platform (RADP) platform. Evoke allows anyone to create open system solutions using Microsoft .NET technologies. It also allows for the inclusion of any technology that is supported by Visual Studio. It incorporates backend databases and existing refactored program code. It is comprehensive modernization at a fraction of the cost of long hand coding in a fraction of the time and results in true application longevity. Evoke supports various versions of SQL, Oracle, MultiValue, etc.

Whether a company modernizes via RESTful Web Services or Evoke the foundation has been laid for the development of new mobile and web apps that will use the refactored code from the legacy system.

Using a low-code/no-code platform allows developers to create adaptable native AND web apps for most operating environments (Android, iOS, Windows, **ix), most mobile devices, smart TVs, watches and desktops.

BlueFinity’s focus on low-code/no-code development opens up native AND web app development for everyone. Evoke enables both technical and citizen developers to create B2B, B2E and B2C mobile and desktop apps for enhanced user experiences driving increased sales at a fraction of the cost of long hand coding; at a fraction of the time; without the need to hire specialists or outside consultancies; and allows for the inclusion of 3rd party components and component libraries into an app – for example Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence, Web Services like Google Maps, Product Identification via barcode readers, etc. No need to reinvent the wheel .

What percentage of companies with MultiValue applications have customer/employee centric modules? I don’t know, I was asking you.

Part 4 will further discuss why modernization is only the first step to keeping MultiValue relevant and around for years to come!.