Legacy system

Modernizing your legacy system for efficient digital transformation

There is no denying the fact that modern systems are more powerful, efficient and capable than legacy systems (old methodology or technology). For instance, to provide the users with a better experience, Microsoft has replaced Windows XP with the latest Windows operating system (Windows 8 or Windows 10). With time, legacy systems may not perform the way they used to. Also, there are high chances of accumulating bugs, errors or other technical issues in legacy systems. This, in turn, leads to customer dissatisfaction and can cause a huge loss in your business as well. If you want to transform your legacy systems in order to modernize your business, then this article is going to be very beneficial for you. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • Facts about legacy systems and what exactly is meant by a legacy system. 
  • Why you need to modernize your legacy system
  • Benefits of modernizing a legacy system
  • Ways to modernize your legacy system

Major facts about legacy systems

  • As defined by Gartner, a legacy application is “an information system that may be based on outdated technologies, but is critical to day-to-day operations.”   

(image credit: flexra.com)

Why do you need to modernize your legacy system?

Integration or compatibility issues with new apps, systems or tools

In order to run your business more efficiently, your old software should integrate seamlessly with other apps and tools. For example, to enhance your e-commerce website, you might need to integrate CRM with a real-time chat application on your website. For this, you need a system that is proficient enough to manage these integrations effectively. 

     2. Security issues  

Using outdated systems can jeopardize your customers and your business because legacy systems-

  • Are more vulnerable to data breaches and malware. 
  • Are less resistant to malicious software and cyber-attacks.
  • Lack updates, hence they cannot adhere to the latest software standards.
  • Become non-compliant with the latest network and security standards.

 To address these security issues, enterprises should invest in modernizing their legacy systems.

3. Vendor terminates the support of your legacy software

If you are operating a third-party software, then you always have to be dependent on your vendor for any support and updates. Unfortunately, if your vendor has discontinued support for your legacy system, then you have to change your vendor or modernize your legacy system. So, you can prevent your business from losing sensitive data, valuable time and precious money.

4. Lacks mobile-first approach

If your business app or business process cannot be accessed from mobile devices or page load time increases when someone accesses from their mobile device, then you are falling behind in today’s marketplace. With more consumers researching only on their phones, you need to have an accessible website and online presence for mobile browsers.

Your business should follow a mobile-first web approach and update your old legacy systems accordingly. 

5. No longer solving your business issues

For your growing business, your software should be adaptable to new business models, processes or operations. If your system lacks scalability, then you should modernize your outdated system to transform your business to a new level.

Benefits of modernizing legacy systems

Have a look at the following infographic that shows why modernizing your legacy software is essential for your business.

(image credit: altexsoft.com)

Ways to modernize your legacy system

  1. Using Application Programming Interface (API)

API is a code that enables two software systems to communicate with each other. It connects the current system to the new system, extending the functionality and value of the current system. For example, Uber uses the Google Map API to track and share locations. 

Why to consider APIs for your legacy system?

  • APIs provide your legacy system with a new interface, making it easily accessible to other modern software components. 
  • Using APIs enables you to reuse your legacy software components. You can connect your legacy system with new layers of modern systems without making major changes in the code of legacy software. This is why using APIs is the most economical and fastest solution. 

However, implementing an API is not going to eradicate the maintenance and upgrade issues with your legacy software. APIs do not deal with internal problems with the software system, so other solutions may be required.

2. Migration 

In order to modernize your legacy systems, you can also migrate them to modern open systems, such as:

  • X-86 environment (advanced microdevice based on Intel 8086 and 8088 variant)

 Migrating to the x-86 environment is a cost-effective approach. At the same time, it will reduce the requirement for power and memory space.

  • Cloud

As compared to hardware migration (like x-86 environment), cloud migration offers more flexibility and scalability. It doesn’t require you to set any additional hardware. Also, it will provide you greater scalability, data security, and continuous updates.

Cloud migration can be executed using three techniques:

  1. Rehosting
  2. Replatforming
  3. Refactoring

Let’s understand the difference between these cloud migration techniques:


RehostingReplatformingRefactoring
What does it mean?In this technique, you can lift and shift your legacy system to the cloud as it is, without making any modifications in the code.In this technique, minimal changes are made to a portion of a software component or entire software before moving to the cloud. These changes include adding the auto-scaling feature, using a managed database offering, etc. In this technique, developers re-code some modules of the legacy software, without changing the external functionality of the software. It delivers high performance and maximizes operational efficiency in the cloud. 
When to use?If the organization is more concerned about time and cost of migration
If your legacy software comes in the category of pre-packaged or off-the-shelf that is impossible to modify.
If the organization is already investing too much money in maintaining physical infrastructure. 
If your organization wants to derive more benefits from cloud computing instead of just moving the application to the cloud.
If the source environment of your legacy system is not supporting the cloud then slight modification is needed.
If you want to automate certain tasks.
If it is not possible to add new features within the existing code of your application and there is a strong business requirement for adding features and functionalities. 

How to plan which cloud migration technique you should choose for your legacy software?

Look at the image of a cloud migration path:

(image credit: Flux)

Factors to consider:

First, ask yourself: how is your legacy software crucial for your business?  

  • If the application is supporting your critical business process and it can be sustained as it is, then you should go for rehosting technique at the lowest possible Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). If your legacy software cannot run in the cloud, then you have to purchase a SaaS subscription.
  •  If the application is necessary for your business and contributes to generate revenue but it cannot be sustained as it is,  then you should ask yourself: is it good to invest in the application? If yes, then you should go for re-platforming or refactoring technique according to your business needs. 

3. Break down the monolith architecture and use microservices architecture

Before understanding why you should use microservices architecture for your legacy software, it’s important to know the difference between monolithic architecture and microservices architecture. 

Difference between monolithic architecture and microservices architecture

Monolith architectureMicroservices architecture
It is a software development pattern in which all the code elements (including backend services and the user interface) are interdependent and concatenated together. It is a software development pattern in which services (features and modules of the product) are independent of one another and running separately from each other. 

Most legacy software is built using this architecture, and it’s hard to adapt to new technologies. Also, its codebase is so large that developers find it difficult to make changes quickly. 
In this, branches of business logic are physically separated, making it easier for the application to handle high load and implement the complex systems.

(image credit: altexsoft.com)

How does microservices architecture help in modernizing legacy software?

You can build new applications based on microservices architecture and make it run simultaneously with a monolith application. In this way, you are giving a chance to your legacy application to act more like a microservice application. Hence, it will become easier for you to manage your legacy application. One of the popular ways to implement microservices is:

Breaking down the monolith:

Generally, monolith architecture comprised of 3 models: front-end (user interface), back-end (business logic), and databases. Breaking down these models into smaller applications, building blocks and configurations will make it easier for the developers to scale the application. It is one of the most popular methods to implement a microservices architecture. This method can also be used in a containerization technique. 

Why microservices architecture for legacy modernization?

  • Independent elements of microservices architecture enable better communication among the development team. For developers, it will be easy to fix bugs and issues faster. 
  • In microservices, each service is being deployed independently. This means developers don’t need to synchronize each and every process, making the deployment task easy and saving a lot of time and resources. 
  • If there is any performance issue in the monolithic application, then you need to scale all the software components together. Whereas in microservices, you can scale only those components that are having performance issues.  

4. Redesigning

Redesigning means rebuilding or rewriting the software components from scratch, maintaining the specifications and scope of the software at the same time. In this way, your legacy software can have access to new functionalities, features and modern technology. 

In conclusion:

Modernizing legacy software is risky, complex and may require a large workforce. But it is well worth the risk and initial investments if you are choosing the right strategy according to your business requirements.

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