KTP: Migrating a legacy software system through Architecture Recovery – Nour Ali

Our KTP project is about re-engineering the software system of Travel Places (http://www.travelplaces.co.uk/) and migrating it into a more modernised and structured one that can be more maintainable and adaptable. The system has been developed over the last 20 years by a single developerand it exceeds 400,000 lines of code. Re-engineering the system is critical to the growth of organizations that need to meet clients’ needs, as they request new features, or catch up with the growing demand to use web, mobile and cloud enabled services. However, the migration process is complex as legacy systems are not manageable as often they do not follow a well-defined structure, are not documented, and are implemented in abandoned technologies – for these reasons, the company approached the university as they could not overcome these challenges without specialist expertise and support. Our KTP Proposal was submitted in April, approved in May. We advertised and interviewed over summer and in September our KTP Associate Stelios took up his role as Software Development Architect which involves him leading and delivering the project, supported by myself and Dr Roger Evans.

The project will redesign and redevelop Travel Places’ system into a more structured one that follows well defined architectural patterns and a service oriented architectural style, this involves applying a tool and techniques that I developed during my postdoctoral research. The main two key challenges of the project are: 1) To migrate the system without affecting clients, users and external systems that it interacts with 2) To identify parts of the legacy system which can be reused and other that have to be redeveloped.  To achieve this goal, we are applying software architecture recovery techniques and tools that will allow us to find out how the software is structured, and subsequently define a new software architecture that is based on reusable architectural patterns and services.

For me as a new comer to the UK and as a researcher starting my career, the KTP project allows me to be in contact with a local-based company that provides a real world scenario to apply my research results and validate them. At the same time, this work has inspired my research towards new directions and has given me the opportunity to focus on interesting new case studies. This will help me to demonstrate the impact of my research and reflect continuously on it; I expect to generate publications from the KTP too. From another perspective, the KTP project provides the resources that allow the establishment of a group formed by academic staff, a recent graduate (KTP Associate) and industry staff which creates an excellent research environment to develop and discuss new ideas. Also, the supervision of the KTP Associate is very rewarding as eventually he will become an expert in the area.

I would recommend Knowledge Transfer Partnership projects for academic staff at all different stages of their career. Their flexible nature allows researchers to define short term objectives that can be easily adaptable and realistic.

Travel Places

KTP Team From Left to Right: Dr. Nour Ali-Knowledge Base Supervisor, Mr. Jeffrey Best – Industry Supervisor, Mr. Stelios Moschos- KTP Associate, Dr. Roger Evans- Academic Lead