Two systems integration giants — CSC of the U.S. and HCL Technologies of India — are joining forces to help huge Global 1000 companies assess how hard it will be to move their many legacy enterprise applications to the cloud and then to do the heavy lifting to get the job done.
These big companies are frequently running applications that are more than a decade old — and thus pose a special challenge in the cloud era. ServiceMesh, the assessment and multi-cloud management tool acquired by CSC in October, will play a key role as IT consultants from CSC and HCL assess legacy applications and prioritize which should be moved to a cloud deployment and if they should be “replatformed, refaced, refactored or replaced,” in the words of CSC CTO Dan Hushon.
In some cases, the best strategy will be to pull key data and business process logic out of the application and reapply it; in others it may be just “reskinning” an existing application with a more modern interface; in others it will be to completely rewrite the app.
Hushon used a current customer as an example of the issues big companies face. “This company has a 15-year-old PowerBuilder application. It takes 5 weeks to run a report on it; it’s hard to find developers who know the technology; but there’s a lot of information locked inside. They want help to put a RESTful interface on that so at least they can offer APIs to that application to their community,” he said.
In many cases, companies have added stored procedures to their relational databases to speed performance over the years but now the database doesn’t need them to run fast. “We might just pull those out,” he said.
In a blog post outlining the deal, Hushon summed up the crux of the issue:
“The sad truth is that these legacy applications are costing more to operate than ever before because of license burden, infrastructure expenses, ever more rare skill sets, and even middleware and consultants that are needed just to add the features the business demands.”
Both companies hope the resulting cloud applications will run on their respective clouds but the goal is “to give customers choice on their cloud substrate,” Hushon told me. “ServiceMesh lets us describe their apps in a way so they can be brokered in a single or multiple clouds.”
The process of migrating and deploying the applications will be one of continuous integration (CI), he said. “We constantly test the checked-in code against the multi-cloud environment.”
CSC and HCL are giants serving giants. HCL had $4.5 billion in trailing twelve-month revenue compared to $14.28 billion for CSC, based in Falls Church, Virg. IBM, with its giant Global Services arm, and Hewlett-Packard, which acquired EDS years ago to boost its enterprise integration efforts, will be watching this alliance closely.