National Infrastructure Provider Chooses Nymad to Stabilise and Enhance Legacy Electrical Engineering System

Nymad’s client runs, maintains and develops a significant proportion of the country’s transport infrastructure.

The client is responsible for capacity planning to ensure that any proposed enhancements to the infrastructure are safe, reliable and efficient. This includes planning for changes in the infrastructure’s electricity requirements.

The Challenge

The system used by the electrical engineers for planning and modelling was originally written as a mainframe application in the 1970s. The primary language used to code the system was Fortran, due to its strengths as a scientific programming language. Over the years the system was developed to run on Windows machines but still had Fortran at its heart. The applications passed through a number of industry service providers until, in 2011, the current developer announced that due to a shortage of expert skills they would no longer support or develop the application.

“We needed to find a partner who would feed and water the existing system, whilst simultaneously modernising the application to enable future business benefit,” said the client’s Application Support Manager.

Nymad brings years of practical, common sense Legacy Management experience. We felt that their ‘stabilise and enhance’ approach, gave us best value for money and best operational flexibility.

There were a number of issues with the applications that needed to be addressed in order to meet the short term goal of Windows 7 compatibility:

  • Compilation Failure – The code base had not been complied for over 5 years and contained numerous instances of out dated coding techniques that would no longer compile.
  • No Single Development Project – The code base was held in multiple formats across multiple media types, without a single consistent project.
  • Inconsistent Documentation – What documentation did exist was invariably out of date.

“We approached the Strategic Integrator community for their input and were told that there was nothing to be done except a complete rewrite of the application which, as well as being a costly approach meant we would be without day to day support until such time as the new application was finished.”

With an internal mandate to move to Windows 7 within 18 months and estimates ranging from 3 to 5 years for a rewrite, the client needed to find a more flexible and agile approach. “Every company we approached wanted a large project team to spend 6 months looking at the application before they were even willing to quote for the rewrite project. This was too much risk for us and we had to find another way”.

The Solution

The client appointed Nymad as its support and development partner for its legacy applications, based on its legacy systems management capability, deep Fortran technical expertise, flexible commercial approach and alignment of cultures between the two companies.

They have been easy and a pleasure to work with. They have had an onsite presence throughout and are seen as an extension to the internal team.

“Nymad brings years of practical, common sense Legacy Management experience. We felt that their ‘stabilise and enhance’ approach, gave us best value for money and best operational flexibility”.

Through a rolling commercial contract the client engaged Nymad to provide support and development services in the following areas:

  • On-going Support – Pick up business hours support for the application suite from day one.
  • Application Health Check and Viability Assessment – Get under the covers to understand what were the longer term options for the applications.
  • Application Stabilisation
    • Create a consistent developmentproject for future work includingrewriting missing code.
    • Remove all compilation errors andcreate a current .exe.
    • Create a Windows 7 compatible version.
  • Application Enhancement – Following a continuous improvement and continuous deliverymethodology, deliver enhancements against the areas that would give the highest impact for minimal effort.

Nymad is an Oracle Specialised Gold Partner and a Microsoft Cloud Partner who brings its systems management and development expertise across technologies to reflect the diverse needs of its client base of FTSE 500 companies, large public sector organisations and SMEs.

“What really stood out about Nymad, was the way in which the customer came first. They understood what we were facing and put together a program of work, which needed trust and faith from both sides. Also, they have been easy and a pleasure to work with. They have had an onsite presence throughout and are seen as an extension to the internal team.”

The Benefits

Nymad’s services have already contributed to a significant reduction in the amount of downtime associated with the applications.

The service has also reduced the processing time and improved the performance for new models as well as adding a few simple touches to reduce user frustration such as the introduction of an auto save feature when creating models.

As a result, the client is also engaging with Nymad on other legacy systems management outside of the existing contractual scope of work.

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