Hewlett-Packard is to offer a set of tools for analysing and preparing legacy code for updating to run on new platforms.
Paul Evans, worldwide director of application modernisation at HP, said there is widespread interest - if not activity - in legacy code modernisation.
"We're dealing with [legacy applications] that are the crown jewels of an organisation, but because of their age, they give the customer a challenge," he said. "Ten percent of the market is on the move [toward modernisation] and 80 percent is watching the 10 percent."
HP is not planning to sell the tools as products, keeping them for now as part of its modernisation services arm, Evans said.
The Modernisation Profile tool analyses an application and breaks various subsystems into sections based on their relative complexity and input-output volume, according to materials from HP.
Using color-coding and a grid-like visualisation, the tool can tell customers where modernisation could provide the most benefit.
Other tools include the Clone Set Analyser, which pinpoints duplicate blocks of code and then depicts them based on their size and frequency. There is also the Clone Pattern Analyser, which HP claims can "reveal hidden patterns of code reuse to help group together similar applications and ensure tasks are not duplicated."
"What we don't want to do is take the existing code and put it through a code regenerator," Evans said. "If you've got 10 million lines of COBOL, what we want you to understand ... is that you may only need to rewrite half a million lines."
The new tools provide HP's existing services business with stronger analytical capabilities, Evans said. Before, "a lot of it was tabular: experts poring over tables, forming an opinion over tabular data," he said.
The company charges US$50,000 (£25,000) for an initial review and assessment of a customer's modernisation needs. In four to six weeks, HP plans to introduce a lower-cost option for $10,000 to $15,000, according to Evans.
One observer said there is "a dire need" for good modernisation tools. "This is all about trying to excise the wheat from the chaff," said Dana Gardner, principal analyst of Interarbor Solutions.
HP's decision not to sell the tools makes sense, Gardner said. "I don't think it should be so much a product, because it requires a hands-on approach. It's not like you push a button and the applications are modernised."
Beyond the tools, HP is announcing a "Modernisation Factory" programme, which is set to create centres "staffed with highly trained experts who deliver modernisation skills at competitive prices on a worldwide basis," according to a statement.
HP competes in the modernisation market with the likes of IBM and Micro Focus.