When you think of the word legacy, what comes to mind? The legacy of a company or a business? An artist’s legacy, a composer’s legacy, or perhaps a singer´s legacy? Many of these individuals established themselves in the history books and those after them may continue using their methods or system. Their legacy paves the way. The role of a legacy system is similar in some ways, in that it paves the way to something better. In the same way artists, composers, and singers might have paved the way for the next generations.
Definition of Legacy Systems
It’s a system composed of outdated computer software/hardware that may still be in use. These involve legacy technologies like applications, computer systems legacy hardware, legacy software, and programming languages used in the past by companies.
Legacy systems are part of the production systems that companies use today and it has a direct impact on scaling productivity. In-house developed software may be one of the most important aspects of production legacy systems.
Legacy software usually contains components or frameworks that are no longer supported. The software industry uses the term deprecated or out of support. Unsupported legacy components create what is known as technical debt. Some technical debt creates risk due to lack of crucial software updates that would result in improved security architecture for company data. Kicking the ball down the road on modernizing legacy systems has a direct impact on the ability for a company to grow. Enterprise grown abilities such as scalability, flexibility, maintainability, interoperability and the ability to quickly respond to market opportunities all are inhibitors to business growth.
It’s generally accepted that contemporary software offers more enterprise “abilities” and delivers measurable ROI. The benefits of application modernization of legacy systems include the ability to quickly respond to business priorities, take advantage of market opportunities or have bottom line impacts such as improved profitability.
Why Are Legacy Systems Still Used?
Legacy systems are safe and convenient. They are proven to work, so as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Back when the company invested in a legacy system, it worked. However as time goes by and new technologies become available, they are not adopted to manage risk and for many various business reasons.
Software frameworks and component technologies change very often. Many companies continue to use legacy frameworks and components due to skill gap or risk avoidance issues.
The process of modernizing core legacy applications, core business processes, and supporting applications can be an arduous exercise. Some crisis situations like a data breach or prolonged outage get the attention of stakeholders and expose the need for modernization.
Is your organization proactive or reactive?
The Problems with a Legacy System
In order to move forward, it is necessary to get out of our comfort zone, or comfort system. Because of the lack of enterprise systems abilities, the time is yesterday for planning and actioning a systems modernization initiative.
Legacy systems generally continue with known fixed amounts of money while being incapable of new and innovative services. They´re also more vulnerable to security attacks by hackers than newer systems. Their data security is outdated and even updating the system puts it at risk of production outages. This puts the company at risk of a security breach that could consequently damage the company’s reputation.
When we read news of a company’s security system being breached, how do we view that company? A company can lose the credibility that they’ve worked so hard to get, by a simple breach. The older the system, the easier it might be to hack. A legacy system may be problematic due to compatibility issues. Legacy software may present even more problems due to its lack of support and security breaches. The need for cloud-based products could not be fulfilled. Legacy software is often outdated technology. A product from a legacy system usually requires a longer process and more time.
So to summarize: compliance is harder, maintenance and operation have high costs with little reward, newer systems don’t integrate with them, and the security becomes increasingly vulnerable.
Why not take this out and leverage the app modernization graphic we have on the site?
How to Modernize Legacy Systems?
Modernizing is a straightforward process of successful data migration to a newer system, with an emphasis on data protection and smooth migration. User training for the new system may also be required. The update of a legacy system involves modernizing many aspects of it, for example, the legacy software and hardware data transfer from business information.
It’s important to reevaluate the legacy systems; namely email, use and time of technology, and the performance needs for the companies as they strive to keep their business relevant. To implement the business software needed to improve their processes might take time, and take even longer if the legacy system is too old or incompatible. Using new technology in your business will likely come at a cost. One product to replace the old one requires many things for a business. Still, the company’s needs must be weighed in the balance.
Will proprietary business software make each employee more efficient? Those who begin using the company’s architecture and application may need to use the new software, as it may take time to adapt. Legacy systems may be old, but users were accustomed to the function of the application. However, their need for application modernization may encourage them to learn quickly. One of the benefits for the business may be a cloud-based system.
How to Navigate Your Legacy System Transformation
Legacy software, also sometimes referred to as “home grown” software, is more than just a tech concern; it’s a business concern. Thanks to cloud computing, changing user demands, quicker and cheaper applications, many IT departments are reconsidering existing legacy applications. Software over 5 years in place can be a problem waiting to happen, and can constrain and lack the nimble nature to react to market or customer needs. Here are just a few reasons to consider a proactive approach to retiring your legacy system.
Changing or Conflicting Company Priorities and Goals. Intra and inter department nuances or conflicting priorities and goalsDiffering goals or project phases among departments or business units can often create a technology ecosystem that doesn’t fit, with systems intended for individual teams. Because of this, companies can create connection points between those systems for enhanced integrations, leading to duplication or gaps that demand patchwork or rigging.Mergers and acquisitions, company growth Company growth, new personnel, or mergers can add to the complexity of legacy systems, with new requirements or recommendations enforced to align customer data, accounting, sales, operations, and so on. The resulting fragmented systems architecture with varied servers, databases, programming languages, packages, vendor sources becomes cluttered and outdated as fewer people know how to maintain.
Technology Upkeep. A Forrester Research survey revealed that IT leaders out of 3,700 companies estimated they spent 72% of budgets on maintenance or “keeping the lights on” functions. Enhancing or patch-working a legacy system may only buy a few more years. Ideally, these systems in place need a longevity plan and schedule for extending the use, or potentially replacing these mission critical systems.
Outside Influences.Regulatory or compliance changes or implementationsAs industries evolve and technology advances, a need to increase the security and compliance arises in order to keep up with the development and mitigate potential cyber threats. These new or evolving regulations or amendments often require a systems change or that a piece of the framework be addressed.Advancements in technology and processes Every twelve to eighteen months, computers double their capabilities, as does the information technologies that use them. Each generation of technology improves over the last, and the progress rate for each version or iteration speeds up. For many companies, it can often take 12-18 months just to implement a workflow or tool. By the time this is complete, a new version or better system has already come out.
Mobilization. Oftentimes the original tools or systems put in place to solve a company need were built with the current device usage in mind, not taking into account the need to future-proof applications as devices evolve. 2014 marked the mobile domination, with the first time ever that people use smartphones more than a desktop or laptop computer. With this overtake in device use, it’s no surprise that 71% of employees use personal mobile smartphones and tablets to conduct business tasks. Many employees prefer to work on-the-go, so systems and workflows in place need to be optimized for mobile devices.
Future-Proofing Your Business. To support strategic company growth, companies need to implement a proactive approach to technology investments. The first step is a thorough review of the systems in place and each link in the company that is connected to the various systems. Defining where technology fits, what’s currently in place, identifying gaps, and understanding what is available is imperative to future-proofing your organization’s operations.
Approaches to Legacy System Modernization
You may hire a company to support you with the migration and modernization of your systems. A company could take on this enterprise by following these principles:
Extract existing data, making sure it’s done safely. These legacy systems hold important enterprise data. Business information is very important and losing it would be a complete disaster. This information is vital for an entire company to complete their tasks.
Transform data to match new formats which are done through data mapping.
Do a data quality inspection to remove duplicates or information that is no longer needed.
Testing the new system with the data to identify potential problems and errors before use.
Loading data into the new system.
What Will Be Your Company’s Legacy?
A legacy is something from the past to improve upon, not to continue as is. Legacy systems fulfilled their role and have made way for newer and better systems that can build on top of them. A company’s legacy may be rich, but respectable companies do not rely on past success? They must push their legacy forward into newer generations. This includes modernizing their way of doing things, systems, hardware, and software. Only then will a company be able to keep a great legacy alive.