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3 tech leaders reveal challenges amidst industry change: CeBIT panel

Jennifer O'Brien | June 5, 2017
ASX, IAG and MidCoast Water discuss ways to future-proof infrastructure for mobility and enterprise enablement.

Don't focus on the "elephant in the room" when dealing with decommissioning legacy systems, suggested ASX general manager of application development and devops, Katherine Squire.

That's one piece of advice dished out by a trio of tech leaders, who shared business drivers, experiences and challenges during a CeBIT panel on future-proofing systems and infrastructure for mobility and enterprise enablement.

"We tend to think of legacy as the elephant in the room," Squire said. "We say, 'let's go with this shiny new stuff over here - and that big decommissioning project will solve this problem for us - so let's just not look that way.' But my philosophy is let's look straight at it. Look at it in the eyes and say, 'what are we going to do now?'"

Squire, who's been at the ASX for two years, said her focus has been unearthing opportunities to automate and change the way the ASX works.

Katherine Squire
Katherine Squire

No doubt, dealing with legacy systems and integrating that into a mobility strategy is a big headache, she said, recognising many companies are not only dealing with legacy applications, but zombie-like apps - a situation that is untenable and must be reviewed.

"With project-based ideologies we tend to create these babies and then orphan them - we are irresponsible parents when it comes to our applications."

And the common approach to deploy a massive decommissioning project, which can run into the millions, often compounds the problem.

"Don't take on the decommissioning, the massive program of work, but look at it and figure out how you can start reducing the footprints. How can you break off, shard off, some of the monolithic pieces of work? Start thinking about mini-services - and maybe don't go straight to micro-services because I think you have to walk before you can run."

But if the company does decide to move towards micro-services, she said IT departments need to build the infrastructure, the monitoring and alerting in order to control the micro-services in production.

"It sounds great, but there's a huge amount of learning that has to come with it in your teams, and so the approach should be 'constant code decommissioning.' Instead of thinking of decommissioning as some big project, you should think of it as something you do everyday: decommissioning your apps bit by bit. You start reducing their footprint, and you do that by maybe putting APIs on it so services can use it," she said, adding companies also need to review its culture and determine how it delivers software within the organisation.

"You need to inject new skillsets into the business and bring in outside skills, but also look to revamp internally and find those wonderful 'change agents' that are actually there in your organisation, but nobody listens to." 


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