Re-engineering strategies for legacy software systems

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Title: Re-engineering strategies for legacy software systems
Author: Brandtberg, Ronnie
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science
Helsingfors universitet, Matematisk-naturvetenskapliga fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Tietojenkäsittelytiede
Abstract: Re-engineering can be described as a process for updating an existing system in order to meet new requirements. Restructuring and refactoring are activities that can be performed as a part of the re-engineering process. Supporting new requirements like migrating to new frameworks, new environments and architectural styles is essential for preservation of quality attributes like maintainability and evolvability. Many larger legacy systems slowly deteriorate over time in quality and adding new functionality becomes increasingly difficult and costly as technical debt accumulates. To modernize a legacy system and improve the cost effectiveness of implementing new features a re-engineering process is often needed. The alternative is to develop a completely new system but this can often lead to loss of years of accumulated functionality and be too expensive. Re-engineering strategies can be specialized and solve specific needs like cloud migration or be more generic in nature supporting several kinds of needs. Different approaches are suitable for different kinds of source and target systems. The choice of a re-engineering strategy is also influenced by organisational and business factors. The re-engineering of a highly tailored legacy system in a small organisation is different from re-engineering a scalable system in a large organisation. Generic and flexible solutions are well suited for especially smaller organisations with complex systems. The re-engineering strategy Renaissance was applied in a case study at Roima Intelligence Oy in order to find out if such a strategy is realistically usable, useful and valuable for a smaller organization. The results show that a re-engineering strategy is possible to be used with low overhead in order to prioritize different parts of the system and determining a suitable modernization plan. Renaissance was also shown to add value especially in the form of deeper understanding of the system and a structured way to evaluate different options for modernization. This is achieved through assessing the system from different views taking into account especially business and technical aspects. A lesson learned about Renaissance is that determining an optimal scope for the system assessment is challenging. The results are applicable for other organisations dealing with complex legacy systems with constrained resources. Limitations of the study are that the number of different kinds of re-engineering strategies discussed is small and more suitable strategies than Renaissance could be discovered with a systematic mapping study. The amount of experts participating in the process itself as well as the evaluation was also low, introducing some uncertainty to the validity of the results. Further research is needed in order to determine how specialized and generic re-engineering strategies compare in terms of needed resources and added value.
Subject: software engineering
reverse engineering

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