During the late 1990s, organizations worldwide spent billions of dollars to remediate their portfolio of mainframe systems in order to make them Year/2000-compliant. This was done as a matter of survival. However, many observed that this inordinately large expenditure was a reaction to a non-existent or, at best, over-hyped problem. Most companies treated the cost of remediation as an expense and blamed it for delaying the development of a meaningful Web presence. A “meaningful presence” meant one that exposes customer-oriented internal processes to reduce transaction costs and increase customer satisfaction. This presence is frequently realized through providing self-service operations for employees, business partners, and customers.
Today, companies have a chance to catch up on their Webification initiatives by leveraging their Year/2000 expenditure; in other words, they can turn an expense into an asset. Thus, having a portfolio of updated application systems can provide a competitive advantage by shortening time-to-market with Web-enabled processes.
This article presents the results of a study of alternative Webification methods that we conducted at DePaul University in Chicago, IL, and recently published. The study was developed to provide empirical results that organizations facing the Webification problem could use to help them decide on a Webification approach. The results address the critical dimensions of business decision-making: how much time will the project take, and how many resources will be necessary for successful completion.
Study results indicate that it is substantially faster to Web-enable a legacy system using an Application Process Integration (API) approach than by using a wrappering or Java rewrite approach. The API approach is based on utilizing the existing legacy system code without modification. The time required to create, test, and debug new software, which is required in the other approaches tested, is essentially eliminated. By eliminating these tasks, the legacy system can be Web-enabled, without major modification, in a relatively short period of time.
A variety of “legacy extension” models, tools, and techniques are available to facilitate the transition to a Web-enabled environment. This research concerns an analysis of alternative software strategies for migrating mission-critical legacy applications to the Web, or “Webification.”
RESEARCH DESIGN & METHODOLOGY
Purpose of Study
Given the pressing need for organizations to Web-orient their business processes, the purpose of this study was to gather and present empirical and anecdotal evidence related to the efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, and cost of three of the most commonly used Webification models: API, wrappering, and a total system rewrite using Java.