Modernizing Legacy Apps Is Top Software Priority

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-06-08 Print this article Print

Market research firm Forrester says the top software initiative for businesses this year is modernizing legacy applications.

Market research firm Forrester says modernizing legacy applications is the top software initiative for businesses this year.

In a recent survey of more than 2,200 IT executives and technology decision-makers in North America and Europe said updating key legacy applications was cited as the top initiative for both enterprises and SMBs at 64 percent and 55 percent, respectively. More than one-quarter of enterprises and more than one-fifth of SMBs said that updating and modernizing key legacy applications is very important.

Indeed, in a time of recession, businesses are looking to cut costs and maintain their existing systems for as long as possible, while placing any disposable revenue into building up newer, innovative applications aimed at continuing to keep costs down, the company said.

"By freeing up money from software budgets, IT departments will be able to support more innovative projects across their organizations," added R "Ray" Wang, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. "Right now, every bit of competitive advantage can help, so focusing on activities that cut overall operations costs or develop better customer offerings is paramount."

Moreover, "The costs of operating monolithic legacy applications makes them unsustainable, and these survey results show that firms are seeking efficient ways to modernize," said Jean-Pierre Garbani, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. "Companies are willing to adapt their business processes to cheaper packaged software solutions rather than wait for custom applications. Automation is the key to IT's future."

Other key highlights of the survey include:

??Ç         Software budgets will hold relatively steady. Enterprises allocated 16 percent of their IT operating budgets toward expensed software costs in 2008 and plan to allocate 17 percent over the next year. SMBs allocated 19 percent toward expensed software costs in 2008 and plan to allocate 19 percent in the next 12 months.

??Ç         Reducing IT costs and improving integration are top goals. Eighty-one percent of enterprises consider reducing IT costs to be an important goal, with improving integration between applications not too far behind at 77 percent. Seventy-one percent of SMBs consider improving integration to be important, with reducing IT costs and using information technologies to increase innovation next.

??Ç         Software-as-a-service concerns and barriers have diminished. Compared with 2008, the 2009 landscape for SaaS is looking brighter, but there are still some bumps along the road to adoption. Currently, at 31 percent, security concerns are the most commonly cited reason why enterprises aren't interested in SaaS. At 39 percent, total ownership costs represent the top concern for SMBs that aren't interested in SAAS.

??Ç         Packaged applications are preferred. When implementing a major application, a packaged application or application modules are the most preferred deployment options for 33 percent of enterprises and 45 percent of SMBs. The next preferred option for both is a tailored solution assembled from existing custom and packaged application modules. Few firms prefer to turn to SaaS or a hosted solution.

Forrester's "The State of Enterprise Software: 2009" report is currently available to Forrester RoleView clients and can be purchased directly at  

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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