EvolveWare is releasing its Agile Business Rules Extraction feature this week on its Intellisys application modernization platform. Agile BRE can keep systems updated with new business policies without requiring users to freeze code in the middle of a model.
It can take years to extract business rules from large legacy applications during an app modernization process. If a business needs to make policy changes during this time, developers freeze the code, preventing further software updates, otherwise extracted rules would not be in sync with the current state of the application. Agile BRE allows enterprises to update policies and modernize applications concurrently so that code changes can occur without halting the business rules extraction process, said Miten Marfatia, CEO of EvolveWare.
Enterprises modernizing apps with business rules extraction are in a hybrid state with a new system and an old system running at the same time, said Stefan Van Der Zijden, an analyst at Gartner.
Stefan Van Der ZijdenAnalyst, Gartner
"The business rules extraction process would need to be redone every time there is a change," he said. "You can do that, but that's not very efficient. You have this coexistence for years to come, and you need to have a means to make any changes on either side without interrupting the process."
Deciding if Agile BRE is the right path
Agile BRE will work with most applications comprised of business rules, such as HR or insurance claims processing, said Jason Bloomberg, founder and president at analyst firm Intellyx.
However, it can be challenging for an enterprise to know whether an application is a good candidate for business rules extraction or another approach, such as code conversion, Van Der Zijden said.
Therefore, a good first step is to use an Enterprise Complexity Analysis (ECA) tool, which gives high-level insights into what the application's code is doing, he said.
"Because the first question that everyone has, if they have a big estate that needs to be modernized one way or the other, is 'Where should I start?'" Van Der Zijden said.
Systems integrators such as Capgemini and HCL Technologies have their own tool sets for ECA, and EvolveWare includes one as part of the Agile BRE process.
BRE isn't a quick fix
Despite automating the business rules extraction process, it usually takes years to complete, Van Der Zijden said.
"That's because it requires manual labor and insight into what kind of business rules should we take on, which can we discard," he said. "So, there's this whole cleaning-up [process]."
Sometimes developers will need to intervene because of code issues that go beyond simple business rule extraction -- such as spaghetti code that needs cleaning up, Bloomberg said. Another reason for human intervention in the automation process is if the system is trying to extract the rules for code that a developer is updating, he said.
"Somebody has to go in and decide what code to update or what rules to extract," Bloomberg said.
But extracting business rules can fast track a modernization project because users can skip code conversions entirely, Bloomberg said.
"You've jumped over the hard stuff. You've extracted the business value, and you left all the nightmare spaghetti stuff behind," he said. "You're just dealing with the rules. That's pretty slick -- that you don't even have to deal with code."
EvolveWare's Intellisys supports more than 20 programming languages including COBOL, PL/1 and PowerBuilder. Agile BRE is included at no additional cost to Intellysis subscribers.