While the focus this week in tech is on shiny, new migrations of corporate information to the cloud as Salesforce and a constellation of other cloud technology vendors commune in San Francisco to kick off the fall conference season, the realities of where information currently resides in the enterprise is all to frequently glossed over as trivial.
Businesses today typically rely on generations of IT infrastructure old and new to keep the information flowing, and surprisingly often mission critical information flows through elderly database driven applications created by teams and engineers who moved on eons ago, resulting in a 'don't touch that server' mentality for those who continue to rely on it.
While current generation IBM are providing some terrific new technologies, a poster child for these delicate, elderly legacy information silos are old Domino client server based applications, which tend to sit in the middle of important line of business and legal work flows. There are lots of vendors working on the logistics of plumbing extraction of various types of other data to be repurposed in cloud applications: CIMtrek, founded by respected business process management expert Jon Pyke appears to be an elegant example of how to escape from IT dungeons.
I was recently shown a demo of CIMtrek tools migrating legacy IBM Lotus Notes/Domino applications to free the data ready to be redeployed, whether to the cloud or another on premise application. Information agility is increasingly important to business on many different levels, and these types of information disintermediation activities look to have a solid future as data needs to be surfaced in other areas of IT infrastructure.
A CIMTrek user goes through four automated steps: application discovery, application analysis, migration and hosting and development.
Essentially all design elements and data are extracted from an NSF, creating the presentation layer (JSP/ASPX), Busines logic, middleware & data access components (POJO/.Net#) a data base schema and if required data population (SQL Server) as a deployable install set. The extracted information resides on a restful web server and is configured to follow MVC patters as much as practically possible to make redeployment simpler. There's plenty more information and walk through video on CIMTrek's site if you want to get into the technical details.
More fundamentally, well organized data for portability is essential for efficiency and to realize the advantages of greater interoperability whether in cloud applications based on Java or Azure or simply to redeploy behind the firewall on premise. Surfacing information in context around collaborative work flows is an important component of realizing greater efficiencies: vendors like CIMTrek are doing the relatively unglamorous but essential work of freeing up information from stove piped constraints to enable this.
Strategically all too many people put shiny technology decisions before the realities of attempting to move out of their current digs and finding there's no easy way out. Migration of siloed information is essential to realizing the benefits of new generation technologies; working out how to achieve this is an important first step.