Jun 17 2024

What Is CDW’s Strategic Application Modernization Assessment, and How Can It Help Your University?

To reach their digital transformation goals, IT leaders must review their entire application portfolio and update software fast and affordably. A new assessment from CDW can help.

Most IT leaders understand the importance of modernizing their applications and data, but they have struggled to get started and map out the right process.

According to a 2023 report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, 83 percent of North American IT executives say modernizing applications and data is central to the strategy of their organizations. Despite that, only 27 percent say their organization has modernized many of the necessary applications, including related applications, data and systems.

One avenue colleges and universities can take to jump-start their application modernization efforts is to conduct an assessment of their enterprise application portfolio. Such an assessment, especially if it’s automated, can significantly speed up an organization’s application modernization initiatives, says Greg Peters, founder of the Strategic Application Modernization Assessment (SAMA) at CDW.

Click the banner below to learn what updating legacy applications can mean for your university.


How to Conduct a Unique Application Modernization Assessment

It’s critical that higher education institutions conduct a holistic assessment, one that looks not only at the technology but also at whether the university has the staffing and resources to maintain certain applications, Peters explains.SAMA is designed to approach the modernization process by breaking down silos between different elements of an institution, including developers, security teams, network engineers and others.

How does it work? SAMA essentially monitors a university’s entire application portfolio and then identifies which items are prime for modernization tasks — and it’s all done as an automated process so IT leaders can get a macro-level view into their software updates, fast and affordably.

Peters, the principal developer of SAMA, compares the process to improving a car’s design. It’s an undertaking that requires conversations with specialists in engines, electrical systems, braking systems and so on. And SAMA’s approach to application assessment involves gathering all the knowledge of relevant specialists only it’s through built-in security scanning, custom reporting and analysis tools. This speeds up the assessment process by obviating the need for separate initial conversations with every team.

“We want to look at the portfolio instead of just one little piece of the puzzle,” Peters says.

The process begins with CDW engineers installing and configuring a virtual machine to run the SAMA tool in an organization’s environment. SAMA then gathers data from the institution’s code repositories, covering more than 40 languages as well as applications on mainframes or in the cloud. All of this work is done on-premises for the organization, never remotely. SAMA then looks for tasks that have been completed around modernization by monitoring that changes were made in the application portfolio.

Why an Assessment Accelerates the App Modernization Process

Peters says that a typical manual assessment of a college’s codebase can take roughly 12 to 18 months to do manually. However, with SAMA, IT leaders can get an automated assessment completed in just two to three weeks, depending on the portfolio size.

SAMA scans applications’ metadata and source code only and does not scan databases or agents on institions’ networks. The assessment gathers data, determines whether applications can run in the cloud, and detects anomalies in code. It also evaluates the security level of each application.

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Following the assessment, SAMA produces two automated reports. One has assessments of every application’s suitability for modernization. The other is an executive summary that has a heat map of the complexity of the portfolio, assessments on the personnel needed to support the applications and other high-level findings.

This essentially gives IT leaders the “keys to the kingdom” so they can query all of the data the assessment produced and get guidance on how to prioritize given software based on the university’s strategic objectives, Peters says.

After the assessment, organizations typically decide to modernize about 8 to 10 percent of their application portfolio, Peters says. Typically, CDW recommends IT teams prioritize either applications with major infrastructure or security issues, or applications that are relatively easy to modernize.

The Benefits of Assessing Your Applications’ Readiness

There are many benefits to using the SAMA approach to application modernization. For one it helps IT leaders “get the information needed to make the decision faster than they could before,” Peters says.

The assessment can also provide a benchmark as IT leaders achieve more of their digital transformation goals. “Our clients continue using SAMA to monitor changes in their application portfolio as they modernize” Peters says.

Lastly, SAMA saves organizations significant costs, Peters says: “Instead of spending millions and millions of dollars on manual analysis, they can use that money for actual modernization. That’s the massive benefit they get from this process.”

UP NEXT: Survey reveals staffing ranks among top cybersecurity challenges facing higher ed.

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