HP unveils application modernization tools

Hewlett-Packard beefs up its set of modernization tools for visualizing the composition of legacy code and announces a 'Modernization Factory' program

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday planned to announce a beefed-up set of offerings for application modernization, including a set of tools for visualizing the composition of legacy code and plans for modernization "factories."

Paul Evans, worldwide director of application modernization at HP, asserted in an interview Monday that there is widespread interest -- if not activity -- in modernization at this time.

"We're dealing with [legacy applications] that are the crown jewels of an organization, but because of their age, they give the customer a challenge," he said. "Ten percent of the market is on the move [toward modernization] and 80 percent is watching the 10 percent."

HP is hoping to capture some more of those eyeballs through its new tools, which it will employ in its modernization services business. "They allow us to sit with the customer and investigate the code," he said.

HP is not planning to sell the tools as products, keeping them for now as part of its modernization services arm, Evans said.

The Modernization Profile tool analyzes an application and breaks various subsystems into sections based on their relative complexity and input-output volume, according to materials from HP. Using color-coding and a grid-like visualization, the tool can tell customers where modernization could provide the most benefit.

Other tools include the Clone Set Analyzer, which pinpoints duplicate blocks of code and then depicts them based on their size and frequency. There is also the Clone Pattern Analyzer, which HP claims can "reveal hidden patterns of code reuse to help group together similar applications and ensure tasks are not duplicated."

"What we don't want to do is take the existing code and put it through a code regenerator," Evans said. "If you've got 10 million lines of COBOL, what we want you to understand ... is that you may only need to rewrite half a million lines."

The new tools provide HP's existing services business with stronger analytical capabilities, Evans said. Before, "a lot of it was tabular: experts poring over tables, forming an opinion over tabular data," he said.

The company charges $50,000 for an initial review and assessment of a customer's modernization needs. In four to six weeks, HP plans to introduce a lower-cost option for $10,000 to $15,000, according to Evans.

One observer said there is "a dire need" for good modernization tools. "This is all about trying to excise the wheat from the chaff," said Dana Gardner, principal analyst of Interarbor Solutions in Gilford, New Hampshire.

HP's decision not to sell the tools makes sense, Gardner said. "I don't think it should be so much a product, because it requires a hands-on approach. It's not like you push a button and the applications are modernized."

Beyond the tools, HP is announcing a "Modernization Factory" program, which is set to create centers "staffed with highly trained experts who deliver modernization skills at competitive prices on a worldwide basis," according to a statement.

HP competes in the modernization market with the likes of IBM and Micro Focus.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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