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Modernizing Legacy Systems for Digital Future


Are enterprises prepared for the digital future? With most enterprises still relying heavily on legacy systems, we cannot be sure they are. Using the legacy system in today’s age is like buying an Intel Core i7 laptop and installing Windows XP in it. It just doesn’t make sense! Regardless, instead of modernizing legacy systems, enterprises are adamant about continuing to use them.

What is a Legacy System?

Legacy systems are obsolete systems that are still in use in businesses for various reasons. It can include core systems that help in day to day operations and decision makings. However, the constitutes of this system can vary as per the business.

Gartner defines legacy application as “an information system that may be based on outdated technologies, but is critical to day-to-day operations.” Simply put, legacy systems are the systems that were suited for the early 2000s, but not 2020 or the future.

As technology continues to evolve, the systems from 2000 will degrade. Consequently, it will disable businesses from growing and coping to change.

Why Must Enterprises Start Modernizing their Legacy Systems?

In 2019, the U.S. GAO identified 10 critical legal systems that are in dire need of modernization. The cost of maintaining the legacy systems was around 80% of the allocated IT budget of 90 billion. The age of these systems ranged from 14 to 51 years. Higher the age, the higher the cost to maintain and security risks.

So, what should you do? Think about modernizing your legacy application instead of maintaining it! By modernizing the legacy applications, you are cutting down on the hardware and maintenance costs. You no longer have to look for people who can cope with the outdated technology. You can stop worrying about system securities and vulnerabilities. Well, to some extent!

More importantly, sticking to a legacy system just because it has been working FINE for decades will lose your business opportunities. The legacy applications cannot cope with the ever-changing technology today. In years to come, it will transform into a liability!

When to consider modernizing your legacy system?

You know the system needs to be updated when you start noticing some of the symptoms below:

  • The system is slow and crashes time and again. If the system doesn’t work as per its set expectation, it is time to bid it goodbye!
  • Start thinking about modernizing your application if your software vendors have terminated the updates for that application.
  • Using or maintenance of the software requires extensive training and specific skill sets. In cases like these, you would spend heavily on finding the right people to operate your application.
  • Stop using the legacy system if it is still operating in outdated technology. Using a system based on outdated technology will only increase security risks and vulnerabilities.
  • When enterprises are moving to the cloud, but your application relies heavily on excessive hardware, it’s time to think.
  • Incompatibility with modern systems can also be taken as a sign to modernize the system. With technology changing the way we operate the business, incompatibility can impact business growth.

Approaches to modernizing your legacy application

In most cases, what you choose to do with a legacy system will depend upon the problem associated with it. However, replacing the entire legacy system isn’t the only approach for modernizing your system. Let’s look into a few other approaches to modernizing legacy systems:

Moving from Monolithic application to MicroServices.

The approach focusses on the decoupling of the components and services from the monolithic application and rebuilding them as MicroServices. This will allow you to gradually move away from the legacy system without building a new system from scratch. You are leveraging the existing components to move to microservices.

Migrating to new platforms

In this approach, the core business logic and architecture remains unchanged. We concentrate on migrating the application as it is to the cloud or other resources without changing the codebase. While this approach can resolve issues related to scaling hardware, it will not solve issues related to the functionality of the application.

Rebuilding application

Rebuilding an application includes building the application from scratch while maintaining the prior functionality and scope of the system. By rebuilding the legacy systems, you are opening doors to enhancing previous features or adding new ones. It will allow businesses to harness the power of modern-day technology to attain their goals.

Replacing legacy system

The final option is to replace the existing system completely. You start from scratch, identify new requirements, scope, and functionality that solve your business problems. You could also look for an alternative third-party application that suits your business needs, instead of building a custom application. The choice is yours.

You can decide on the approaches for modernizing your legacy system as per your requirements. However, the important thing is to cease using the outdated system as it limits businesses to cope with the changing needs today.

Suja Manandhar

Suja Manandhar is a Business Development Officer at Leapfrog Technology Inc. She is an avid reader and loves to explore about the impacts technology creates in businesses.

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