One for the IT types.

Nice bit of headline grabbing
You need a front end and a back end system

So the government should instead just replace all the backend systems with funky new ones?
And when it goes wrong everythung goes down

The backend is the most important part, yes it should be developed and upgraded / replaced, if the data and the way it works is good then it doesn't matter that it's a legacy system. If unsupported and flakey that would be a problem
A good front end with a functioning back end is better than a new shiney backend with a crap unfriendly front end
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Depends how good the back end is. The company I work for is one of the largest providers of commercial database and some of the UK Government systems are running on them. The latest generation of database software has far more capabilities and responds faster than even a few releases ago. New shiny front ends need nice shiny back ends to keep the response times good and minimise the number of crashes/concurrency issues and so on.

Wordsmith
 

Blogg

LE
Indeed trouble is with HMRC their new but iffy front end is linked through to hideous, creaky legacy systems.

Our payroll guy tells us that their new RTI system is such a clusterfuck that any and all demands we have received or may receive should be ignored as our salaries have been doubled up.

If only.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Put this into perspective. I have this on (extremely) good authority.

Barclays run every single line of their business critical code on z/OS (ie the back-end legacy systems). Anything that is not on z/OS is not critical to the business. It's just chrome (hence the ironic name Google chose for their web browser, Chrome, because as delivered, it has none of the bright, shiny, chrome bling that bloats for example Internet Explorer). I seem to recall at the same time being told that 80% of all business critical software in the world is run on z/OS.

Another way. The people I work for (do I have to spell out the three letters?) have to keep servicing our software long after its sell-by date because Japanese banks pay top whack for their software to avoid replacing their hardware.

Yet another way. Some months ago iirc NatWest had a major system failure and people couldn't get their money out. I expected fingers pointed at us (I package an awful lot of the software that the big players run). In fact, the fault came down to the bank failing to apply service correctly to their software.

So from this we can conclude:
  • the important stuff is on the legacy hardware
  • old legacy hardware is not an inhibitor to good practices
  • badly installed software is the customer's fault.
Draw whatever conclusions you like.
 

Tool

LE
Put this into perspective. I have this on (extremely) good authority.

Barclays run every single line of their business critical code on z/OS (ie the back-end legacy systems). Anything that is not on z/OS is not critical to the business... I seem to recall at the same time being told that 80% of all business critical software in the world is run on z/OS...

So from this we can conclude:
  • the important stuff is on the legacy hardware
  • old legacy hardware is not an inhibitor to good practices
  • badly installed software is the customer's fault.
Draw whatever conclusions you like.
I agree with everything you say! Nice reference to that blue O/S, btw ;)

Mainframes hold legacy data and systems. The cost of rewrite is often too high, or the risks deemed too big. Old hardware is not an inhibitor, but the caveat of maintenance holds true.

Front ends NEED to be rewritten to take advantage of the data in the back ends - think of data mining or social media as two of many new avenues of accessing "old" data...
 
Unfortunatly too many hardware and software replacement deals are done by top management on the golf course, not be the techies but by top management. My last company went from a basic but old oracle back end to an all singing all dancing siebel front end and icbs back end, that software lasted less than 5 years, 70% of the features were never used and this time last year I was up all night for a week migrating it to a 3rd party. zOS, iSeries and the like are rock solid, we had another legacy system running code that the company bought and developed itself over nearly 20 years, that is still going strong with good housekeeping and few hardware upgrades along the way. Fact is the end user doesn't or should't really care what the front end looks like, all they bother about is the time it takes to fill in the forms and update customers info.
 

Tool

LE
Fact is the end user doesn't or should't really care what the front end looks like, all they bother about is the time it takes to fill in the forms and update customers info.

Quite the opposite. The front end is the glitzy social-media lookie-likey that generates the income. So long as the back end does its job, you can use dog-toffee to present the information to the client.
 

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