CIO Mark Schwartz, DHS, prefers a Strangler Approach

strangler approach vine

Last week at the ATARC Federal DevOps Summit, I took note of DHS CIO Mark Schwartz use of the phrase, “Strangular Approach” to phasing out monolithic legacy systems.  I had to look it up.

The Strangular Approach was first coined by Martin Fowler who compared an agile development rewrite of a legacy system similar to the huge strangler vines in the rain forests on the Queensland coast of Australia. “One of the natural wonders of this area, strangler vines seed in the upper branches of a fig tree and gradually work their way down the tree until they root in the soil. Over many years they grow into fantastic and beautiful shapes, meanwhile strangling and killing the tree that was their host,” writes Martin Fowler.

This concept has started to take root in the area of modernization of government IT systems.  This is the direction that Mr. Scwhartz aka Innovative CIO, and probably soon-to-be others in the government as they embrace lean, agile, web development for government software applications.