The Cost of Webifying Legacy Applications

DePaul University authors provide access to their complete study.

Due to the strong response to Joe McKendrick's Host Integration column, "How Best to Extend Legacy Technologies?" we’re pleased to provide access to the complete DePaul University analysis mentioned. The study quantifies how much companies save by employing tools that transform current back-end applications to GUI front-ends.

"An Empirical Analysis of Alternative Software Strategies for Migrating Mission-Critical Legacy Applications to the World Wide Web" is authored by Dr. Howard A. Kanter, CPA and Dr. Thomas J. Muscarello, directors at DePaul University’s Laboratory for Software Metrics.

Using the Internet to facilitate e-commerce by global businesses is difficult because of the enormous number of legacy systems (defined broadly to be any computer-based system used in production). Such systems are not Web-enabled, and the variety of tools and approaches available for "Webification" complicate the issue.

In the study, the authors provide a mixture of computer science and business approaches appropriate for this type of state-of-the-art problem.

The study looks at experienced professionals with a minimum of 15 years in software training, development and maintenance, with both mainframes and microcomputers. It makes minimum use of advanced statistics, focusing on measures that would communicate essentials to readers. It’s one of the few studies to assign dollar values to the tasks measured. As a result, the study answers the basic business questions of "How much will we save?" and "How much will it cost?"

The authors developed a methodology and measure the time and cost of Webifying a legacy system under three separate approaches:

  • Screen Scraping (Application Processing Integrator typified by Micro Focus’ EnterpriseLink - EL)
  • Component Building Wrappering (typified by Micro Focus’ Net Express): COBOL with HTML, HTML with ASP, and HTML with JSP.
  • Full re-write of the legacy system in the Java programming language

Because many Fortune 1000 companies haven’t chosen an approach to Webification of their legacy systems, the results and the methodology involved in this study should be of great help.

The study took 11 months to plan, execute and document. It was sponsored by Micro Focus Ltd., a software firm headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif. The firm supplied copies of its software tools, EnterpriseLink and Net Express, as well as training in the use of the tools.

Read the entire study in PDF format by clicking here. (NOTE: File size is 825KB, please allow adequate download time.)

Enterprise Systems wishes to thank Dr. Kanter for making his study available to our readers.