How difficult is it to move a complex, trusted legacy defense system into a modern new language and system architecture, without loss of functionality or the introduction of flaws? Very. Many companies regularly engage in projects requiring tens of millions of dollars and significant execution time for even medium-sized modernizations— and according to the Standish Group’s recent analysis of over 70,000 completed IT Projects, manual redevelopment and COTS replacement projects failed considerably more often than did projects using both semi-automated and automated approaches.
Since manual modernizations and COTS replacements include the significant risk of failure, at large expense, it’s no surprise that the managers responsible for our nation’s most critical applications are reticent to risk their budget and/or major system disruption as part of a modernization project.
A New Approach-Automated Software Modernization gets to the DNA of things
Such were the key market challenges that led to the founding of The Software Revolution (TSRI), creator of the first fully automated legacy system modernization capability for government and industry—and the Department of Defense, in particular. “Many of TSRI’s current projects were originally manual redevelopment failures before TSRI’s automated modernization approach was selected,” states Philip Newcomb, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors at TSRI.
In fact, TSRI’s process has unusually public and well-documented past performance. They have completed over 150 major modernization projects for federal and civilian agencies, with every project completed successfully. TSRI is now working in close partnership with a handful of trusted systems integrators to provide end-to-end modernization service's in a proven, efficient, repeatable, and predictable process, with the customer benefiting from significant reductions in effort, cost and schedule.
Founded in 1995, TSRI has succeeded in making the hardest part of legacy modernization—the seamless, high-fidelity transformation of application code, user interfaces, and databases—much easier. This leaves their systems integrator partners with only the testing, integration, and deployment work to complete projects, much of which can be completed in tandem with the transformation work itself. This also frees up the systems integrator’s staff to develop new modules and features in the modernized language, providing the customer with the best of both worlds—a modernized functional equivalent system with little to no business disruption, and with the ability to further customize that system with new features.
This is not magic. “This is the new reality,” explains Greg Tadlock, Vice President of Sales at TSRI. “Our experience watching sales practices in this industry led us to mature our toolset to be able to demonstrate our capabilities—on the customer’s own application—before a project even begins.” For many languages, TSRI also offers to produce complimentary detailed system documentation, a Transformation Blueprint® at no charge, including side-by-side cross-referenced views of the legacy (As-Is) and modernized (To-Be) code and design. The documentation preview is reviewable for a few days online for the customer’s perusal, and the customer can pay a reasonable fee for their own version of the final documentation, which reduces the need for end-user retraining and provides detailed information on the structure and flow of the legacy and modernized applications.
The model-driven transformation eliminates recurring hardware and licensing expenses with open source software and databases technologies that are unencumbered by license fees
Modern Computing Needs - Entering the World of Cloud-Enabled Applications
As technology evolves, so must any legacy system modernization process. Whether it’s the latest in private clouds, Microsoft Azure, AWS, or others, the transition from legacy to cloud is another key challenge dominating today’s organizational priorities. TSRI has tackled the industries’ move to the cloud, with innovation equal to what it brought to the transformation marketplace.
TSRI has a unique approach to achieve a seamless transformation from monolithic legacy systems to thin client multi-tier and web-enabled architectures. “Targeted transformation rules and refactoring,” Newcomb says are the answer. “Once TSRI has an in-memory model of the customer’s application in JANUS Studio®, we can apply rules to achieve a transformation to a cloud-ready state.” The JANUS Studio® tool set can also be used to break down monolithic applications into micro-services that are easier to maintain, flexible to extend and perfectly suited to high-performance the service-oriented cloud architectures currently in vogue.
Cloud enablement relies on moving the legacy User Interfaces (UIs) into responsive web-enabled displays— another task area where TSRI uses automation to reduce project costs and schedule requirements. “Many of our clients wish to move to cloud architectures, but they frequently don’t want the hassle of retraining hundreds of users on completely new systems or interfaces. Our approach allows them to retain the function and look of their legacy displays in a modernized web interface, or to replace them with a new look and feel using the latest technologies like AngularJS 2.0, Bootstrap, HTML5, etc.” said Newcomb.
Different customers have different expectations for cloud enablement, as well. Interestingly, TSRI’s process does not appear to be a rigid ‘one size fits all’ approach, but rather an adaptation, or what they call ‘tuning’ of their toolset for each project to support each customer’s unique specific goals. “One of our aircraft manufacturing customers, for example, is moving to a private cloud and required a dual presentation layer—web and emulators—to continue running screen scrapers, while allowing their other users to access a web-enabled display,” says Rene Wagner, TSRI Director of Business Development. “By contrast, many of our current government customers are targeting thin-client responsive web displays for their applications.” By tuning the JANUS Studio® toolset for each project, TSRI uses automation to produce the target presentation layer the customer requires, while also remaining very flexible and adaptable along the way.
Finally, while enjoying the benefits of moving to the cloud, an additional key concern of many organizations is the question of application security. Legacy systems have a highly-publicized role in recent attacks, from the OPM to the DNC, and are fraught with potential security pitfalls. By locating vulnerabilities identified with code scanning technologies, TSRI offers an automated way to remediate many of the common and not-so-common cybersecurity vulnerabilities. “TSRI addresses cyber security considerations of our clients by means of transition to modern strongly-typed languages, flexible inclusion of remediation from code vulnerability scanners, model-driven refactoring and pattern-based changes, and transition to modern languages that are more easily protected by current cybersecurity software,” says Silvana Nani, TSRI’s COO.
Getting the Job Done - TSRI's JANUS Studio® Toolset in Action
The cornerstone of TSRI’s technology is JANUS Studio® a constantly evolving toolset. TSRI’s staff includes PhD level scientists and mathematicians who constantly innovate new capabilities within JANUS Studio®.
A perfect example is the European-traffic management system. Originally written in Ada 83. TSRI’s Euro-pean partner achieved acceptance for the deployment of a new version of the flight data processing (FDP) system by transforming it into in real-time Java. This system now operates at over 320 air traffic control centers worldwide, and offers a compelling example of the fidelity of TSRI’s model-based architecture-driven modernization process. “When our system integrator partner needed a transformation process that would pass the rigorous testing requirements of international aviation standards, they turned to the company with the most aircraft, avionics, and aircraft manufacturing systems modernization experience,” explains James Pippin, Director of Inside Sales at TSRI.
The European client chose TSRI’s JANUS Studio® toolset for the automated legacy system modernization of their real-time, mission-critical flight operations system because of it ability to both transform and refactor without human-hands touching the code The principal motivation for the choice was the assurance of a perfect functional replication of the existing software in a new language and platform—a capability that was provided flawlessly by TRSI’s JANUS Studio® toolset’s automated architecture-driven modernization solution. “Demonstrating the transformation process to be non-distortive of original functionality convinced the customers to accept modernization by means of a fully automated process,” Pippin says. TSRI’s detailed analysis and language-neutral solutions achieved a fully automated transformation of the software, platform adaptation, as well as fully machine mediated iterative perfective refinement through their software refactoring process to optimize code structure, design, and architecture.
To make the transformation process even more effective, TSRI also provides its clients an Application Blueprint®, a valuable addition that allows staff to easily understand the structure and flow of the existing legacy application prior to transformation. It can be accessed by the client remotely as a secure web service. “Many of our customers opt for this documentation well before a modernization project, as the design artifacts and engineering models expressed as UML documentation to make maintenance of the legacy system much easier and more efficient,” claims Wagner. Post-modernization, TSRI provides a Transformation Blueprint® that includes a detailed presentation of the structure and flow of the legacy and modernized code—in side-by-side hyperlinking format to support future code maintenance and easily transition key staff familiar with the legacy code.
Addressing the Future - Continuous Innovation is the Key
Today’s innovation is tomorrow’s legacy—and the solutions surrounding maintenance, retention, transformation, and improvement of irreplaceable legacy systems is what TSRI’s future is all about. “We will continue to support new languages each year,” says Newcomb, who plans to expand their toolset to handle 80 percent of all actively maintained software languages.
The firm also plans to expand its capabilities for the automated refactoring and remediation of security vulnerabilities and cloud migration. “We are pleased and honored to be trusted with so many important projects in this space—including projects for the European Air Traffic Management System, Dutch Government, and other Fortune 500 customers. That said, our largest customer is the U.S. government and we are pleased to be helping our federal and military sector clients take advantage of the transformative benefits of cloud-based computing. And to best serve our ever growing customer base, TSRI will continue to innovate and enhance its leadership in the software application modernization marketplace,” Newcomb concludes.