Cast analysis: cold war era ‘Thatcher’ apps still rock, Agile more flaky

Cast is a company dedicated to the code analysis it performs as its core bread and butter. Not a security company as such, Cast describes itself as a software intelligence specialist

How much code analysis? Cast’s latest report analyses over 700 million lines of code.

The Software Intelligence Report on Application Age attempts to identify primary outcomes of old vs. new software that’s still in use today.

Product owner for Cast’s Highlight tool (and co-author of the report) Michael Muller argues that enterprise applications are often laden with software risk, as different pieces of functionality have been tacked-on over time.

Muller says that without adequate software intelligence, it is very difficult for executives to get an accurate assessment of resilience and agility risk — but then, he would say that, because he works for a software intelligence specialist, so where’s the meat in this sandwich?

“Smaller development teams and faster release cycles improve immediate outcomes for end-users, but without active portfolio-level management Agile teams can turn the codebase into a legacy headache for the next CIO,” said Muller.

What does all this mean?

Where Cast is going with this argument is that a) a lot of legacy apps (let’s remember that legacy means software that still works) are still very important and serve a lot of functional use and that b) Agile and Lean are fabulous, but they may not always lay down enough code annotation and other strains of application information to facilitate good application portfolio management.

Key ‘findings’ of this report include:

  1. Thatcher-era apps still have a big impact: 75% of applications built in the 1980’s still have a high impact on the service continuity of today’s businesses
  2. Older apps cause the most financial damage if they fail: 62% of apps built in the 1980’s will have a higher financial impact than modern apps if they fail today
  3. New app development methods aren’t designed for long-term success: Applications built on the Agile Methodology are less agile, meaning they are harder to integrate with new systems. A cause of TSB’s IT issues was the inability of legacy applications being able to work on modern platforms.

“IT still struggles to transform an ageing, monolithic app-centric environment into a nimble, outcome-driven engine needed to drive digital business,” said Dan Hebda, CSO at Mega, whose firm also contributed to the report. Mega builds visual modeling tools for application planning, design and development.

“In Mega’s experience, those most successful in modernising their infrastructure start with IT portfolio management to establish a baseline of software intelligence. This includes aligning resources to business outcomes, reducing infrastructure complexity, understanding technical debt and opening the road to accelerated innovation and growth,” said Hebda.

The Software Intelligence Report on Application Age looks at 2,067 applications, representing 733 million lines of code from 14 different technologies that are developed and maintained by more than 12,000 people across multiple verticals.

A link to the full free report is listed for download here.

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