The high cost of running with legacy applications
The key to success for any business is to keep up with innovations and modernize rapidly. This is the only way to ensure businesses outperform competitors and continue to delight customers. In this race to scale up, a company’s internal software can either be a hindrance or a key driver of growth. Most companies today rely on legacy software that is often developed internally and built along rigid frameworks. These softwares also require regular maintenance by a specialized IT department. The financial and technological restrictions legacy software pose can often compel businesses to consider leaving them behind entirely in favor of newer more agile options available in the market.
An ‘all or nothing’ approach can come with its own set of drawbacks. Legacy systems often have decades of invaluable data stored on them and an entire company’s processes are built around them. Removing them completely can disrupt your existing workflow and could even cause data lapses if the migration is not done correctly.
A far more practical legacy system modernization approach would be to consider an application modernization in a phased manner and retain as many of the useful features of the current software as possible.
Also read: How businesses use ML to improve processes
7 legacy system modernization strategies
Legacy system modernization typically involves performing a complete audit of the current software, identifying gaps and understanding how new features can be integrated within the framework. The objective behind legacy system migration is to make this process as frictionless as possible for all users and to minimize training requirements for adapting to the new process.
In this approach, the code, while still remaining in its present environment is linked by API to a new presentation layers. This basically means that the monolithic code is being broken up into smaller capsules or microservices. This approach enables modular programming, debugging and allows application code to be reusable through APIs across multiple projects. In the long run each microservice can be built updated individually.
Encapsulation can give your legacy software a facelift and make it easier to use, but many of the inherent challenges with using the older software do not necessarily get resolved. If maintenance caused prolonged downtimes and added to costs, these problems will continue to persist since the actual process and code remains unchanged.
This approach recommends to completely rewrite application components using new llanguages and technology stacks while retaining the exact same scope.
Generally, this approach involves redesigning legacy systems to allow for cloud migration integrating it with other systems through APIs. To do this, companies require a highly-specialized IT team and set aside considerable time for the project to be completed. The end result is that the legacy system retains its previous functionalities and purpose but in a new, modern avatar that can leverage the advantages of being on the cloud.
Replatforming is one of the more conservative legacy system modernization approaches where developers move certain features of the system to a different, modern runtime platform. In this approach, only minimal code changes to adapt to the new platform are required. Many of the same features and tools of the old system are still retained so teams who work on the software do not need to change their processes.
In most cases, not being able to work on the cloud is one of the main reasons that push companies to modernize their legacy systems. In this ‘rehosting’ approach, companies continue to keep their existing ERP dashboards and legacy softwares but move the environment from an offline one to a cloud-based one.
This is one of the best legacy system modernization strategies to save on time and costs. The only drawback to doing this is that many useful features that are exclusive to the cloud, which boost performance and save even more on costs, might not be available if you’re simply moving existing software to a new environment.
This approach to legacy system migration combines the best of both worlds. The current legacy system is first segregated into layers. Layers that would benefit from migrating to the cloud or integrating new features are re-coded and modified. The remaining layers are either retained as they are, or are minimally modified.
In cases where a data breach is the biggest concern, the data alone might be migrated to a secure cloud platform, while the rest of the legacy system remains unchanged. In cases where performance and efficiency are an issue, parts of the code might be optimized to improve speed.
6. Retain the existing system
When undertaking a legacy modernization drive, companies usually weigh the cost-benefit outcome of such a change. In most cases, the benefits of moving to a newer updated framework far outweigh the short-term costs or teething troubles an organization faces. However, in certain instances, moving to a new system might not be an immediate necessity. For instance, if the organization is going to be sold soon, participate in a merger or is awaiting a change in leadership, a long-term vision might not make sense.
However, it is important to remember that whatever the short-term obstacles are, moving to a modern updated system will still remain a necessity. In fact, the longer an organization delays modernizing their legacy software, the harder it can become to do so.
7. Retire the old system
If your organization’s business model is changing, then the existing processes that the legacy software supports might not be required anymore. In this situation, your company might either choose to develop a new in-house system to cater to your new requirements or choose a third-party cloud-based solution.
This is the most drastic approach to modernization and is required only when existing systems are irreparably outdated. In these cases, the legacy system does not conform to current compliance or technological standards and its framework does not support new coding or upgrades. When this happens, the system could actually become a liability to companies as data leaks or hacking could become more likely. When a more suitable cloud-based system is selected, the company’s IT system needs to carefully plan the legacy system migration to ensure that it happens seamlessly with minimal data loss. Employees will also require extensive training to help them adapt to the new software and use it correctly.
When choosing among the best legacy system modernization approaches for your business, it’s important that you first assess your requirements and level of technological maturity. If the existing system is too tightly enmeshed with your current processes, then phased out legacy system modernization strategies might help you save on costs and make it easier for users to adapt to the new workflow.
If you’re planning to modernize your legacy software, then schedule a free consultation with our tech experts through our chat here to know which is the best modernization approach for your software.