IBM preps software, services to update old apps

IBM Corp. on Thursday announced new software and services for companies that want to update old applications, particularly decades-old mainframe programs.

These old applications, often described as legacy applications, are still used, despite their age, to run many critical operations, such as credit card transactions, payroll systems, manufacturing processes and stock trades, IBM said in a statement.

In fact, IBM estimates that these legacy applications, some of which are 40 years old, run 70 percent of the world's major business operations. But because they have been modified, migrated and adapted so many times, their maintenance is complicated, time-consuming and costly, eating up about 80 percent of software budgets, according to IBM estimates.

It's not economically feasible for many companies to simply rip out these applications. But companies can update and transform these programs, so that they'll be able to perform new tasks, operate over the Internet and be easier and cheaper to maintain, IBM said.

The two new services from IBM's Global Services unit are:

-- Application Portfolio Management Services, in which IBM consultants evaluate a company's applications and recommend which ones should be scrapped, updated or left alone;

-- Legacy Transformation Services, a set of modular services which can be used alone or together to Web-enable legacy applications, thus extending them over the Internet to employees, clients and suppliers.

On the software side, IBM is announcing new WebSphere tools to simplify the process of enabling zSeries mainframe applications to function over the Internet; provide a graphical interface with things like drop-down menus and hot links to mainframe applications that use a command-line interface; and simplify the creation of e-commerce applications for IBM's midrange iSeries servers.

A spokeswoman for IBM said Thursday that the new services and software tools are available now worldwide, but couldn't provide pricing details because prices vary depending on the scope and size of projects.

IBM also announced the opening of a center in Waterloo, Ontario devoted exclusively to clients in the insurance industry, and the availability of IBM financing options for clients interested in these new software tools and services.

IBM is making this announcement at its developerWorks Live conference in New Orleans.

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