Modernize your core for digital at scale
7 ways to strengthen your IT core and stop legacy systems causing you pain
Introducing core modernization
The art of transforming the enterprise IT backbone for digital and avoiding dependency on aging infrastructure.
Understanding core modernization
Digital Transformation has transcended IT to move to the boardroom of every forward-looking business. With every passing day we can see the shift to a world where customers embrace new digital media and interactive experiences. But with so many new and emerging technologies involved, enterprises must work hard to keep up with changing customer preferences and channels to market.
A classic struggle is dealing with legacy systems: the old hardware, software and infrastructure that can hold companies back in their quests to digitize more processes and provide consistent and engaging digital experiences across every touchpoint. This is why core modernization is so important.
In this interactive journey through the topic we want to suggest ways in which - just as with the human body - strengthening your core by future-proofing core applications and infrastructure and pursuing a theme of Simplify-Modernize-Secure will provide the basis of future flexibility, agility and wellbeing.
From ‘as is’
to ‘to be’
How to move from you current-state IT to desired-state IT
If your company isn’t new you will probably have legacy systems – aging hardware, applications, databases and other IT infrastructure that lead to ‘technical debt’: the pile-up of suboptimal IT that must still be secured, updated and managed.
You can’t easily decommission all these systems or switch them off because often they’ll be home to business-critical processes: payroll, ERP, logistics, HR and supply-chain management systems, for example. And then there are budget, inertia and macro factors to deal with.
The IT core is represented by the critical applications and associated infrastructure without which the organization could not exist.
Any failure to apply regular maintenance and attention to the core can drag down operations and lead to performance bottlenecks, security vulnerabilities and inefficient processes and workflows.
Without a strong, resilient and agile backbone, small problems become bigger and you will be unable to capitalize on market opportunities or move as fast as competitors that have zero or little legacy. Acting decisively and thinking holistically allows for a faster IT, the capacity to change course, a better user experience and a stable platform for compliance.
Upgrading the core can be disruptive in the short-term and it might mean that there is some change in service level availability, the way services look and behave, and how people log on. But modernization is the basis for innovation, flexibility, new services, security, compliance and much more. Get the core right and good things happen.
We've identified the following 7 steps towards achieving successful core modernization and how to stop legacy systems causing you pain:
- Audit & consolidate
- Break down services into fragments
- Lean on process improvement
- Switch pricing models
- Think about people as well as processes
- Manage better
Now let's take a look at these 7 steps in more detail...
Audit and consolidate
Modernization step 1:
Audit and consolidate
Create an inventory of your systems.
Establishing a baseline assessment by taking account of all current systems, workloads, applications and dependencies is an essential first step to avoid later surprises and to measure accurately your improvements for reporting and visibility purposes.
Create an inventory of your systems, including workloads, business processes and dependencies. You need to be counting systems and understanding their purposes and dependencies but also assessing levels of availability, security reliability and integrity.
For systems deemed inadequate, some processes and workloads will be quite easy to shift onto new hardware, software or cloud infrastructure. If they can be moved, that’s a no-brainer.
Root out duplication because redundant apps and systems are expensive, will slow you down and cause complexity.
Auditing & consolidation in action
Examinations group Cambridge Assessment turned to Cognizant to deliver a standardized, centralized SAP ERP system, new portals for exam centres and assessors, and a results determination engine built on SAP HANA as part of its education technology upgrade.
A global media and entertainment company wanted to consolidate data centre locations for 19 business units across North America and the UK to save costs and improve performance.
Cognizant conducted a comprehensive assessment on delivering as-a-service models to the company’s distribution and client base then began migrating about 40 per cent of the company’s current data centre workloads to co-location and IaaS clouds.
Cambridge Assessment case study
Media & entertainment case study
Becoming Digital To The Core: A Holistic Approach
Break down services into fragments where appropriate
Modernization step 2:
Break down services into fragments where appropriate
Micro-services, containers and virtual machines can put your hardware to better use.
The race to digitize more and more business processes is helping to shorten IT project delivery schedules, cut costs and improve service quality.
Micro-services, containers and virtual machines can help by putting your workloads to better use, providing you with superior utilization, simpler management and better value.
Microservices architecture has emerged as a path to agility by using small, loosely-coupled, independent services that run together.
Think of micro-services and containers as the antithesis of monolithic applications and a natural progression of virtualization, proving more granular ways to isolate services, introduce flexibility and gain value from hardware investments.
But, just as with virtualization, microservices can cause nightmarish complexity if designs and processes are not precisely defined, validated and enforced on a regular basis, using a tool-based approach.
Given the cloud’s highly distributed nature, it’s important to take into account end-to-end application profiling, performance management, app monitoring and cloud-native concepts such as containerization.
Enterprises that embrace these constructs have radically overhauled their application strategy."
Srinidhi SR, Cognizant Associate VP of Cloud & Infrastructure Services
Modernization step 3:
The more you automate, the more time you free up for your staff to work more creatively.
Testing and other rote processes can very often be automated or even ‘roboticized’ through robotic process automation (RPA).
The more you automate, the more time you free up for your staff to work more creatively and RPA is exciting because it provides a way to maximize compute capacity and drive efficiencies to the nth degree.
In RPA, bots augment human beings by taking over dull, repetitive jobs such as processing supplier invoices, issuing credit cards, HR candidate verification and onboarding and handling customer service queries.
Automation in action
Agents of a leading US revenue cycle management service provider were manually logging into healthcare provider portals to check patients’ eligibility and benefits for upcoming appointments.
The process involved more than 250 complex business rules and data had to be extracted from more than 35 fields.
Cognizant’s healthcare team designed a RPA solution for the verification process with 23 software bots running 22 hours a day, five days a week.
How far have you gone towards automating processes?
- We have automated wherever possible
- We have automated significantly but there is more work to do
- We have significant gaps where we need to automate more
- We are immature compared to peers in automation
Lean on process improvement
Modernization step 4:
Lean on process improvement
Put Agile, DevOps and IT service management into action.
As digitization has driven deeper and deeper in to the way organizations operate there has been a need to change the way IT is developed and deployed.
Today, mature approaches such as waterfall methodology that rely on very structured and sequential steps with requirements frozen before moving on to the next stage aren’t always a good fit for fast-moving environments. For those environments, approaches such as Agile, Scrum and DevOps have provided more flexible ways to evolve programs.
At the same time, IT service management has continued to mature. Although its focus on closely monitored service descriptions and planned, predictable processes may make it sound like the antithesis of the Agile world, many experts now say that they can work together well. In fact, Itil has even provided guidance on how the two can work together.
Legacy systems can often be refreshed via tools, utilities, language modernization or open APIs.
Because the hybrid cloud solution needs to be aligned with the enterprise’s specific business needs, it’s important to utilize standardized service delivery frameworks and pre-packaged service catalogues, which can be tailored and extended to meet changing business requirements."
Monish Mishra, Cognizant Associate VP, Cloud & Infrastructure Services
45% of respondents said one of the current top five IT project priorities is application modernization of on-premises core enterprise applications.
41% said extending core enterprise applications is a top-five priority.
Process modernization in action
A US bank holding company accelerated application deployment, using data management, service virtualization, performance testing and Itil, leading to:
- 30% reduction in test cycle times
- 93% fewer defects
- $400,000 in cost savings
- 25% fewer test and development outages.
Cognizant BIGFrame is an offloading solution that delivers up to 60% in cost savings without impacting performance.
Enterprises need a fast, efficient and extensible IT foundation. Here’s our blueprint to help your organization get started.
Switch pricing models
Modernization step 5:
Switch pricing models
Changing the way you pay can make a huge financial difference.
Changing your current model to utility-based subscriptions that work on a pay-as-you-go basis can make a huge difference to what you pay and how.
Capital expenditure (CapEx) is the traditional model used in paying for IT, has certain accounting advantages and can be popular with organizations that have free cash flow.
This is the standard way to pay for big upfront investments such as hardware and enterprise software licenses – the latter often involving annual maintenance charges on top.
But in the cloud/SaaS age, many firms have preferred to move to operating expenditure (OpEx) to free up funds, pay on a usage basis and take the risk out of not knowing whether businesses will grow or recede.
The percentage of global IT spending invested in cloud will rise from 19% in 2018 to 28% by 2022.
Saving in action
Cognizant worked with Standard Life to deploy a private cloud infrastructure across two data centres and migrate all business services to the new infrastructure.
It managed third-party suppliers and the project was completed on time without disrupting the business.
The solution enabled Standard Life to deploy a pay-per-use pricing model as well as lowering capital investment, accelerating time to market and boosting resilience.
Learn more about our work with Standard Life
Think about people as well as processes
Modernization step 6:
Think about people as well as processes
Legacy can be human as well as systemic, so reskill and retrain.
Sometimes in IT there can be a tendency to focus on the binary ‘speeds and feeds’ while ignoring softer factors such as how the people charged with strategizing and running IT systems can improve processes. In fact, one of the great challenges facing companies today is accessing the skills that can take them to the next stage in the evolutions, hence the continued success of outsourcing.
Legacy can be human as well as systemic. Unify application and infrastructure support for a single view of operations then consider how well your current staffing model fits what you need to do. Automation needn’t equate to downsizing.
By reskilling and retraining your people, you develop their loyalty and gain value from their knowledge of the organization while freeing them up to do more valuable and creative work.
Also, by automating more you will free up budget for areas where IT skills are hard to come by, such as cybersecurity, AI and data science.
For many experienced business and technology leaders, the shift from old to new software engineering approaches can feel a bit terrifying.
While most people have heard a lot about DevOps, Agile development, continuous integration/delivery and minimum viable products, it’s something else to actually move in this direction…
The bottom line is that companies hoping to wring a few more years of productivity out of their industrial-era software are taking a high-risk path.
Now is not the time for analysis-paralysis"
Paul Roehrig, Global Managing Director at Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work
- Cybersecurity engineer
- AI/Machine Learning engineer
- Full-stack developer
- Data scientist
- Python developer
- Java developer
- Cloud engineer
- Scrum master
- DevOps engineer
Modernization step 7:
Calibrate the value of IT to the business.
Using business value management, portfolio management and business-IT governance to calibrate the value of IT can be a huge boon for IT leaders.
These tools can be used to communicate value back to the business, turning arcane business and technology operations data into a language that’s liked by CEOs, CFOs and other executives.
Messages might include services that are running optimally (and those that could with the right investment), staff turnover issues, usage of services by department and areas where staff training might be needed.
They can also help to provide the insights to meet (and even surpass) KPIs and SLAs and corporate governance rules.
Assuming that cloud infrastructure is more cost-effective than traditional on-premise models, enterprises can make a business case for migrating to cloud, but only if they can eliminate legacy system costs post-migration.
Legacy assets have book value or licence issues that can’t always be depreciated or sold.
To achieve a positive ROI, companies should ensure these costs are eliminated and that cloud computing resources are not under-utilized."
Srinidhi SR, Associate VP at Cognizant Cloud & Infrastructure Services
IT governance in two phases
1. From supplier to enabler
Most firms run IT as a provision and management operations for applications and infrastructure. Applying metrics can help IT to be viewed as enabling competitive advantage.
2. From enabler to strategically valued partner
After becoming embedded in business units’ strategic planning processes, phase 2 will see IT involved in M&A planning, providing architectures that underpin business flexibility, advanced vendor partnering, business intelligence and change management.
Delivering Digital At Scale
Technology must go beyond supporting business. It must advance it.
Let's advance every aspect of your business with digital at scale and speed.
When we do digital at scale and speed for clients, we systematically rethink how they create value in their organizations.
We utilize our expertise in 20 different industries to leverage AI & analytics, enhance interactive experiences, automate processes, develop platforms, modernize infrastructures, and engineer digital solutions that help clients capitalize on the tremendous opportunities the latest technologies offer.
And to help speed clients’ journeys toward becoming digital, we bring our digital capabilities and industry expertise together into horizontal offerings and industry solutions that accelerate the most essential leaps that today’s technology makes possible.
Cognizant is designed to help get digital done across large, established organizations - one of the few companies with the breadth of capabilities needed to do it:
Deep technology and industry expertise
Long-term, trusted relationships
An agile, diverse, born-global team
A client-first culture of flexible ways of working
A sound management track record
Read our corporate factsheet to find out more.
Learn more at how Cognizant can support your digital transformation journey by visiting www.cognizant.com