EvolveWare is launching its Agile Business Rules Extraction feature on its Intellisys application modernization platform this week. Agile BRE can keep systems up to date 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 application modernization process. If a company needs to make policy changes during this time, developers freeze the code, preventing further software updates, otherwise the extracted rules would be out of sync with the current state of the application. Agile BRE enables enterprises to update policies and modernize applications simultaneously so that code changes can occur without interrupting the business rule extraction process, said Miten Marfatia, CEO of EvolveWare.
Companies modernizing applications with business rule mining are in a hybrid state with a new system and an old system running at the same time, said Stefan Van Der Zijden, analyst at Gartner.
Stefan Van der ZijdenAnalyst, Gartner
“The business rule extraction process should be redone every time there is a change,” he said. “You can do that, but it’s not very effective. You have this coexistence for years to come, and you have to have a way to make changes on either side without interrupting the process.”
Deciding if Agile BRE is the right path
Agile BRE will work with most applications that consist of business rules, such as HR or insurance claims processing, said Jason Bloomberg, founder and president of analyst firm Intellyx.
However, it can be difficult for a company to know whether an application is a good candidate for business rule mining 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 code is doing, he said.
“Because the first question everyone asks, if they have a large estate that needs upgrading in some way, is ‘Where do I start? ‘” Van Der Zijden said.
Systems integrators such as Capgemini and HCL Technologies have their own toolsets for ECA, and EvolveWare includes one as part of the Agile BRE process.
BRE is not a quick fix
Despite automating the process of extracting business rules, it usually takes years, Van Der Zijden said.
“That’s because it requires manual labor and insight into what kind of business rules we need to adopt, which ones can we drop,” he said. “So there’s all this cleaning [process].”
Sometimes developers will need to intervene due to code issues that go beyond simple business rule mining, such as spaghetti code that needs to be cleaned up, Bloomberg said. Another reason for human intervention in the automation process is that if the system tries to extract the rules, the code also needs an update, he said.
“Someone has to come in and decide which code to update or which rules to pull,” Bloomberg said.
But mining business rules can speed up a modernization project because users can skip code conversions altogether, Bloomberg said.
“You jumped over the hard stuff. You extracted the business value and left all the nightmarish spaghetti stuff behind,” he said. “You’re just managing the rules. That’s pretty nifty – you don’t even have to manage the code.”
EvolveWare’s Intellisys supports over 20 programming languages, including COBOL, PL/1, and PowerBuilder. Agile BRE is included at no additional cost for Intellysis subscribers.