We Are GAP Mobilize
Free Assessment Tool

Is PowerBuilder the TikTok of Legacy Software?

by Darryl Worsham, on Mar 24, 2024 12:15:00 AM

The recent scrutiny of TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, due to its Chinese ownership has sparked a wider conversation about the risks of relying on technology from potentially adversarial nations. While TikTok's entertainment focus is miles away from software development, there are interesting parallels to draw with a long-standing tool like PowerBuilder.


PowerBuilder, a once-dominant application development platform, has also transitioned to Chinese (Hong Kong) ownership. This change introduces potential considerations for businesses heavily invested in PowerBuilder applications. These concerns could range from data security to the future trajectory of the tool itself.

While the federal government doesn't explicitly ban PowerBuilder, its ownership by a Hong Kong-based company introduces potential risks under the ICT Supply Chain Executive Order. This order targets software or services from foreign adversaries and authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to prohibit transactions deemed as posing undue risk to U.S. national security. Considering the geopolitical climate, PowerBuilder's ownership could lead to scrutiny, potentially limiting its use in sensitive government or critical infrastructure projects.

Is Your PowerBuilder Investment a TikTok Time Bomb?

The focus on TikTok highlights the need for companies to carefully assess their reliance on legacy software tied to foreign entities that may not always align with their own interests. With PowerBuilder, questions to consider include:

  • Data Sensitivity: What type of data do your PowerBuilder applications handle? How would a potential compromise of this data impact your business operations?
  • Future Roadmap: What are the long-term plans for PowerBuilder under its current owners? Will it see the continued innovation and support required for the future?
  • Modernization Pressure: Can PowerBuilder keep up with the rapid pace of modern web development practices or will you face technical debt?

A Path Forward: PowerBuilder Migration for Sovereignty and Success

It's important to not simply fall into fear-mongering. Instead, businesses should view this as an opportunity to reassess their technology stacks and make strategic investments. This is where tools like GAP's Mobilize WebMAP offering come into play.

WebMAP offers a pragmatic solution: migrate your existing PowerBuilder applications to modern web technologies (Java or C#) while preserving your core business logic. This offers several advantages:

  • Reduced Risk: Mitigating potential concerns associated with Chinese-owned software.
  • Developer Efficiency: Developers familiar with PowerBuilder can easily understand the migrated code, accelerating the process.
  • Modernization: Unlock the flexibility and performance of web-native technologies, future-proofing your applications.

Beyond Security: Productivity and Innovation

Choosing a migration path isn't solely about mitigating risk. WebMAP is designed to boost developer productivity and drive innovation within your organization. It offers the opportunity to revitalize your PowerBuilder applications with updated user interfaces and integrations with the latest web services. It’s an excellent way to think about onboarding for a journey to the cloud.

The Choice is Yours

The fate of TikTok may be uncertain, but for businesses relying on PowerBuilder, the time for strategic thinking is now. Is it a risk you're willing to take, or is a proactive modernization approach the wiser pathway for your organization?

If you need help with your PowerBuilder apps, let us know - we have a bunch of migration engineers who can help you out.

help is on the way



Subscribe to Mobilize.Net Blog