“Digital Transformation” is, of course, one of the buzzwords du jour. And technology vendors are, en masse it seems, pushing their particular product offering as being just the thing to deliver digital disruption. Of course fundamentally changing an organization so it is able to leverage the newly uber-connected world is a very different proposition from simply enabling a legacy company to roll out some kind of mobile application – but the reality is that enabling “consumer-like” touch points whereby stakeholders can interact with core enterprise systems and processes is a key to unlocking the kind of transformation that people are so breathless about. To put it simply – if you’re a brand new organization, you have the ability to build out your culture, your systems, and your processes without having to worry about legacy technology. Existing organizations don’t have that luxury and need to do so within their existing context.

Which is why there are an increasing number of technology platforms that offer the lofty promise of enabling applications to be built on top of legacy technology platforms. The theory goes that if you’re a big-co running your core processes on a big, monolithic technology stack, that the barriers to ripping out your applications and rebuilding them are insurmountable. The alternative option is to leave those systems in place but to “wrap” them such that lightweight applications can be built which call back to the older stuff.

Another approach is that of “forklifting” – taking existing applications and somehow wrangling them so that they can be run on more modern infrastructures. And that is the proposition that appOrbit brings to the table. The appOrbit application platform promises to make both new and legacy business applications —and the data they rely on —portable to any modern infrastructure, without rewriting code. The appOrbit platform helps IT organizations to automate the modeling, delivery, and management of enterprise software onto modern infrastructure. It also delivers a framework for building, testing, deploying and managing new custom container-based applications that are portable to any infrastructure or storage options.

Infrastructure or applications?

Unlike another vendor in the same space, Capriza, appOrbit seems to be articulating an infrastructure-centric approach towards application creation. It’s less about the tie into legacy systems, and more about “lifting and shifting” existing applications. in this approach, appOrbit seems to be channeling an approach that was popular a handful of years ago – back when in our naivety we believed that infrastructure was the only barrier to making legacy applications run like modern ones.

SInce that time, however, it has become apparent that from the ground up modern applications are fundamentally different to legacy ones – the way they’re conceived, built, deployed and run and the way they integrate with the outside world. As such, the very notion of “lift and shift” (and, bear in mind, that more products promising this sort of outcomes didn’t really deliver what they promised) is a flawed one.

And so, a partner channel

A cynic would suggest that the sort of organizations that will promise unachievable outcomes, and pay high prices for not delivering them, are the big consulting firms – the likes of Wipro, Capgemini and the like. So it is hardly surprising that appOrbit is today announcing a new partner strategy, that they hope will help them to scale their business. Or, as appOrbit would put it:

Collaborating with appOrbit empowers services and systems integrator partners to offer a unique solution to their enterprise clients that reduce IT spend, accelerates application release cycles, improves application quality and allocates more resources to new innovation. Current services partners include Ericsson, Capgemini, Wipro, Infosys, KPIT, and Infogain. The appOrbit platform is also listed on the Oracle Cloud Marketplace.

At the risk of being accused (as I have been on many previous occasions) of being over-snarky, the combination of high priced consulting shops with Oracle’s cloud marketplace doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

MyPOV

Don’t get me wrong, digital transformation really is a thing. And the idea of enabling legacy enterprise applications to be “mobilized” fills me with happiness. But mobilizing a legacy application and lifting that same legacy app and moving it onto more modern infrastructure isn’t a transformation. Yes, it can drive some better economics, but that doesn’t really change the game. If you were to ask me whether I prefer an appOrbit re-platforming product or a Capriza one which wraps the legacy application, I’d always choose the latter.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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