Brian Haskett

Vice President

Why application modernization does not equal code translation


For a while, it seemed as if the IT world had found the perfect solution to application modernization: code translation. You would take an application written in an older language, send it through a tool to translate it, and then—presto!—you had the same application in a modern language.

The problem is, it never really worked. It was still the same application.

What we’ve learned as an industry is that code translation is, generally speaking, a poor option. Most application modernization experts, regardless of whom they work for or what their angle is, will steer clients away from code translation. It’s simply not a good idea.

Many problems, few benefits

Let’s say you take a mainframe application that is written in COBOL-85 and translate it into Java. What you end up with is the same application written in the Java programming language syntax, but one that looks like a COBOL application and behaves like a COBOL application. JOBOL, anyone? This isn’t an application that you want in your organization. It’s going to be difficult to maintain, difficult to enhance, and it’s going to suffer from performance issues. When you try to “modernize” an application with code translation, you end up with a lot of problems and very few benefits.

Translating an application from one language to another language is not modernization. That’s why we generally steer people away from it.

Even though we now know that code translation is not the answer, we certainly want to do something other than manually rewrite applications, because the manual approach is a pretty horrific option as well. It doesn’t scale well – it’s slow, risky, costly, and prone to lots of technical debt.  The question then becomes: How do you re-write your legacy applications to a completely new architecture? The answer: By using tools like the new Ciber Momentum™ transformation accelerator solution that doesn’t just translate, but instead accelerates the re-architecture of your applications.

When you leverage Ciber Momentum to re-architect a legacy application, we extract from that application only those things that you want and need to carry forward. Everything else gets left behind.

Look like Java, not COBOL

The procedural characteristics of COBOL are far different than those of a Java-based object-oriented application running on a Linux blade server. Frankly, you don’t want that COBOL application to look like a COBOL application on a blade server. You want it to look like a Java application on a blade server running Linux. You want a modern user experience. You want the ability to do data analytics, to leverage a rules engine, to support many user devices, and to enhance your application.

That’s why re-architecture is the way to go. We transform the key elements from the legacy application into your modern architecture that is going to enable you to maintain and enhance that application, and it’s going to give you all the benefits that you need. If you’re modernizing for an improved user experience, you’ll get that in a modern architecture. If you’re modernizing for mobility or analytics or cloud, you’ll get that too.

If you translate a COBOL application to Java, all you will get is a mainframe application in a different language.

Join the list of innovative companies quickly and effectively modernizing their applications with Ciber Momentum. You’ll discover how to modernize your applications much quicker than if you were to manually rewrite them—and with substantially better results than a typical translation service. Learn more here.

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