Managing the application portfolio back to the future

In a week filled with mobile madness and malarkey of all kinds I have decided to buck the trend and talk about music, mainframes and meringues. Music was my previous blog on coding tunes, so now to mainframes.
Written by Adrian Bridgwater, Contributor on

In a week filled with mobile madness and malarkey of all kinds I have decided to buck the trend and talk about music, mainframes and meringues. Music was my previous blog on coding tunes, so now to mainframes.

Enterprise application (that means mainframe in this case) management company Micro Focus has been talking about their new Modernization Workbench 3.1 product, which, like you’d expect, has been recently updated.

Firstly the technology proposition, then my question on Application Portfolio Management (APM) systems OK?

Modernization Workbench 3.1 now incorporates Micro Focus’ other APM products, namely Revolve and Enterprise View. This technology features browser-based dashboards that are said to help prioritise development projects through metrics like application cost, complexity, value and risk. According to Micro Focus, query functions, visualisations and specialised assessment tools, including for platform migrations, are available.

Now here’s my beef. Micro Focus talks to us about bringing mainframe application functionality into Windows environments and the .NET framework. The company talks endlessly about the need for organisations to have a need a single view of their IT portfolio to prioritise and then execute development activities that support business goals.

But what about forward-looking (or next-generation if you prefer) applications such as virtual machines? How about software “appliances” i.e. virtual machines built to serve an application where the appliance carries out this task with a combination of a software application, some mandatory middleware and a database of information that is all neatly packaged into a preconfigured disk image with its own minimal operating system. How will they manage that application layer? Shouldn’t this be part of their market (and press!) facing messages?

We can go back to our mainframe past for sure – but how do we go back to the future too?


Why don’t we hear about the need to integrate these applications into the portfolio from Micro Focus? I put this question to Peter Mollins at Micro Focus who pointed out that Modernization Workbench provides upfront applications analysis that enables mainframe application modernisation to ANY platform, including cloud, public or private. As Micro Focus’ approach is platform agnostic, it works on all of them, past, present or future.

“It’s a great point about supporting forward-looking environments. We hear that topic often when we talk with IT teams. They want to get to a modern approach, but their budgets don’t let them. But if you think about what APM can do; it allows for better prioritisation of team activities twinned with more efficient applications. It also provides the opportunity to cut non-standard inefficient code and the chance to locate business logic that can be reused – and all these elements can help slash the hefty cost of ‘lights-on’ activities. By freeing resources in this way, organisations can take on more and more forward-looking initiatives,” said Mollins.

Of course today, most organisations run portfolios that are tens of millions of lines of code and stretch across not just the mainframe but also distributed environments and more. This of course hasn’t passed Micro Focus by and Mollins described the process by which decisions might be made to incorporate something like a new software appliance into an already quite established portfolio.

“Any new application or appliance can co-exist in a portfolio that has been built over many years across diverse environments. It is critical to understand how a new system will connect with these established assets that run core business activities. The analysis that Modernization Workbench provides – across mainframe and distributed languages – gives that understanding. This means that appliances, or other new functionality, can be incorporated into established business processes faster. Overcoming the complexity of the portfolio is critical to freeing resources to implement new initiatives and to make sure that new technology effectively collaborates with the existing assets.”

So there you have it. I’m sure Michael J Fox would be proud of that – and if you have read this far and am wondering about how I will tech blog on the subject of meringues, that was just a ‘loss-leader’ comment as I needed a fun word that started with M for alliterative good value. My apologies readers ☺

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