Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Frank Lupo

Blog Post

Top Takeaways from Continuous Discussion (#c9d9) Ep. 40

CD for Legacy Applications

This week, we hosted a Continuous Discussion (#c9d9) on best practices for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery for legacy applications.

Our expert panelists included: Deepak Karanth, Chief Architect and Consultant at Software Yoga; Jean D’Amore, Consultant at ThoughtWorks; Manuel Pais, DevOps Lead Editor at InfoQ and consultant at Skelton-Thatcher; Tarun Arora, Microsoft MVP in Visual Studio Development Tools; and, as always, Sam Fell and Anders Wallgren of Electric Cloud.

In this episode, we covered legacy systems in depth – from definitions and addressing challenges, to the best practices for refactoring legacy code and DevOps-ifying your legacy applications. What resonated during the live podcast was the importance of culture and teams, and first making sure refactoring code is going to drive business value, before going all-in. Continue reading below for some of the top insights that were shared during the event.

How do you define Legacy?

  • KaranthDeepak-Karanth-c9d9-devops-podcast says “You know you have legacy code when “you look at [it], you feel like throwing it away.” In other words, it’s code which you do not want to change, or are afraid to change, because there’s no way to know if it will cause side effects in other parts of the system.”
  • Jean-DAmore-c9d9-devops-podcastIn D’Amore’s opinion, anything that is developed without DevOps and CD in mind is automatically legacy. He goes on to advise against letting code go dormant. “For example, you may have created something great six months ago, but if you have not touched it since and the mindset of changing and improving isn’t there, it is legacy.”
  • Fellsam-fell furthers by saying there is an “inertia” factor: if you sit still for too long, it becomes harder to move forward. “Always be thinking about how you can make your product more efficient, even if you aren’t touching the code frequently.”
  • manuel-pais-c9d9-devops-podcastFor Pais, legacy is an evolving definition, but is mainly applications that you cannot change at the speed your business needs them to change. Ipso facto, “If you don’t have processes in place to move quickly, you are working in a legacy app.”
  • Tarun-Arora-c9d9-devops-podcast“When dealing in legacy applications, it’s not the end-state, it’s the path,” says Arora. “Legacy begins with the fear of change.” He notes how management often respects stability in business applications, resulting in an increase fear of modifying. “If you can’t change on-demand,” he says, “you are on the path to legacy.”
  • anders-wallgren-c9d9“The core of legacy is fragility: you think or know it will break every time you touch it,” explains Wallgren. “This creates a positive feedback loop where you learn to stop touching the code entirely.” However, he says you need a little “TLC” in your code base so it doesn’t go to waste.

Should you poke that bear?

  • Tarun-Arora-c9d9-devops-podcastArora says “To take a business-case driven approach here. Go through your enterprise, take stock of applications, the turnaround time on them, and ask what value do they deliver to your organization? If they aren’t delivering enough value it may not be worth it to poke the bear.”
  • manuel-pais-c9d9-devops-podcastPais puts his focus of refactoring around teams and people. “It’s more important to start with awareness that a team has become legacy, rather than the code or application itself. Legacy teams working in older processes don’t allow systems in those teams to evolve as quickly as they need.” Pais’ advice? “Make it a priority to enable teams to work better and stay on par with the more advanced teams in terms of tooling, processes and collaboration.”
  • Jean-DAmore-c9d9-devops-podcast“Do you have the ability to rewrite the legacy code? Is there a part of the application that is less risky to replace? Is the system fit for the purpose?” These are all questions D’Amore would ask before considering refactoring legacy code. “If there’s an investment at the organizational level that says the system is right for us and we want to keep investing in it, then poke the bear.”
  • Deepak-Karanth-c9d9-devops-podcastAdvice per Karanth, “Don’t poke the bear just for the sake of it. It’s important to have a clear vision for why you need to poke the bear and what the outcome is of the whole process. Two important aspects to consider: 1) internal 2) customer.” Karanth says “You know it’s time to refactor the code when customers start complaining, and when your own developers are having a hard time changing the code.”
  • anders-wallgren-c9d9The age-old answer Wallgren gives is: “It depends. The practical problem with legacy applications is you have no tests, if you’re lucky there are specifications. The decision to refactor depends on many factors, such as the size of the legacy code base.”

Challenges with CI and CD for legacy apps:

  • Jean-DAmore-c9d9-devops-podcast“The biggest challenge in CI for legacy applications is off-the-shelf package apps,” says D’Amore. “Essentially, you are at their mercy.” However, D’Amore says “If you are forced into a package application situation, it should become a decision-making process – ask how is this going to affect my environment, how are we going to be able to make changes in the ecosystem alongside the package app?”
  • Deepak-Karanth-c9d9-devops-podcastKaranth mentions the challenge of politics when making a technical decision. “For example, when different departments are handling different parts of the delivering process, how do you automate? What happens to the jobs of those people when you do automate? The technical challenges are easy to solve – version control systems, unit tests – the biggest challenge is the people.”
  • manuel-pais-c9d9-devops-podcastPais further emphasizes the challenge of changing people and culture in legacy systems. He says, “To evolve your practices, and at same time evolve how people think about those practices. Often, there are one or two people that are really into the process of refactoring and create their own “hero crusade.” This is good, but not if everyone else stays where they were before.”
  • Tarun-Arora-c9d9-devops-podcastArora says an outcome-drive approach is best when implementing CI in legacy systems. “Being able to see where you are getting the biggest bang for your buck is crucial. It’s all about decomposing in a fashion where you can create a façade around it, or identify end-points that you can use to do automation testing to speed up the CI pipeline.”
  • anders-wallgren-c9d9For Wallgren, the challenge becomes, “who do you throw at this problem? Oftentimes, it becomes the “sustaining engineering” team’s problem, but in actuality you want your best people on this project.” He advises to “Think about the skillsets required to go into an unknown code base, understand it, figure out how to write tests for the part you want to refactor, and/or how to extract the part you want to tear out and write it as a new service.”

Bringing DevOps practices to legacy applications- where do you start?

  • Deepak-Karanth-c9d9-devops-podcastKaranth emphasizes again that “The starting point should always be the culture; find out if the team has the necessary people to do the job. Management often treats this process as just another development task, which is the wrong approach,” according to Karanth. “Finally, understand that refactoring and building a support environment (both people and tools) takes several months to do.”
  • Tarun-Arora-c9d9-devops-podcast“There is no value in doing it, if there is no value in doing it,” says Arora. “There needs to be business value, appetite for change, a roadmap and a vision.”
  • manuel-pais-c9d9-devops-podcastAdvice per Pais: “When you realize it’s worthwhile to refactor, first deal with reality, take things step by step, seize opportunities to change and improve, and change the technical side along with the culture and mentality.” Culture is important, but Pais reminds us to “Have metrics in place to make sure you are going in the right direction.” (ie. deploy frequency, time-to-repair)
  • Jean-DAmore-c9d9-devops-podcastD’Amore advises to “Visualize your current state – the latencies, what changes often and what is the hardest to change.”
  • anders-wallgren-c9d9Wallgren says to “Make sure you invest enough time and resources in understanding the change you are about to make. Try not make too many decisions on scope until you have spent time on investing. You are likely dealing with code that isn’t well-defined in terms of what it’s supposed to do – bite off less than you think you can.”
    In addition, he says:

     

Watch the full recording of this week’s episode here.

More DevOps for legacy applications

DevOps and CD for legacy applications is also a key topic at DevOps Enterprise Summit (DOES). For more real-world use case for addressing legacy applications in the enterprise, watch CenturyLink’s talk below on implementing CD for Legacy Applications from DOES15, and Scott Prugh’s talk from DOES14.

Century Link – Implementing CI/CD for Legacy Applications

Scott Prugh – CSG – DevOps and Lean in Legacy Environments

Want to take the stage at this year’s DevOps Enterprise Summit?

There’s still time to submit your talk proposal for DOES16 – CFP closes on May 16, 2016.

Submit your proposal »

Want more Continuous Discussions?

We hold our #c9d9’s every other Tuesday at 10 a.m. PST, with each episode featuring expert panelists talking about DevOps, Continuous Delivery, Agile and more. Next time on Continuous Discussions: Creating an Internal Dev/Test Cloud.

More Stories By Anders Wallgren

Anders Wallgren is Chief Technology Officer of Electric Cloud. Anders brings with him over 25 years of in-depth experience designing and building commercial software. Prior to joining Electric Cloud, Anders held executive positions at Aceva, Archistra, and Impresse. Anders also held management positions at Macromedia (MACR), Common Ground Software and Verity (VRTY), where he played critical technical leadership roles in delivering award winning technologies such as Macromedia’s Director 7 and various Shockwave products.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
Amazon is pursuing new markets and disrupting industries at an incredible pace. Almost every industry seems to be in its crosshairs. Companies and industries that once thought they were safe are now worried about being “Amazoned.”. The new watch word should be “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In his session 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Kocher, a co-founder of Grey Heron, will address questions such as: What new areas is Amazon disrupting? How are they doing this? Where are they likely to go? What are th...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.