A number of business owners opt for outdated software because of cost concerns over updating legacy systems. Although this decision might look reasonable in the short term, relying on legacy applications will more likely provoke significant issues down the road.
Risks of Legacy Software
Postponing the legacy modernization may seem reasonable. Many organizations retain obsolete programs to support specific business processes and requirements. Often, these are ERP, CRM, or accounting software. As the current systems are working, stakeholders don’t see an immediate necessity to invest in a new solution. That requires resources and time.
However, surprises may arise when outdated design vulnerabilities begin to cause security issues, when you find out that your company cannot scale legacy applications to offer enhanced features to customers, or when you discover that your legacy apps are incompatible with the latest software.
Gartner Inc. reported 91% of CIOs stated that legacy programs-induced technical debt affects agility and delivery speed.
Challenges of Legacy Application Modernization
So if your obsolete software fails, the only way to stop that is modernization. The difficulty lies in the fact that as a business owner, particularly without technical expertise, you might be unsure about the process of modernizing legacy applications:
- Who is responsible for devising a modernization plan?
- Who will be in charge of implementing this plan?
- How can you identify personnel with the required experience or select an appropriate external partner?
- What is the potential cost of modernizing legacy software?
Unfortunately, BCG’s report states that just 30% of modernization projects have met their goals, leading to uncertainty for businesses. But should this truly discourage you from progressing with your modernization plan? In fact, numerous organizations suffer from addressable issues. How to handle them? First, to discover them in advance:
Get exclusive access to all things tech-savvy, and be the first to receive
the latest updates directly in your inbox.
- Inadequately designed, developed, or documented legacy systems can result in significant challenges during redesign and transition.
- The absence of a well-defined strategy and execution plan may lead to numerous setbacks and unforeseen complications during migration.
- Productivity problems like network downtime and data access issues during migration can disrupt business operations significantly.
- Neglecting user experience in favor of platform transition alone can provoke negative customer feedback and even loss of clients.
- Migration of legacy apps and their dependencies, if not thoroughly assessed, can trigger system failures.
- Legacy system upgrades often consume time, possibly exceeding budgets and compelling companies to persist with their current systems.
How to Find the Right Solution?
To avoid described problems, stakeholders and project managers need to address a specific set of questions to identify opportunities rather than obstacles.
From a business perspective, three key considerations are:
- Does the legacy application respond to the new demands of digital businesses?
- Should we upgrade our old software to enhance its business value?
- Do our legacy systems adhere to agility principles?
From an IT standpoint, the following three drivers are crucial:
- Is the overall maintenance cost of legacy systems justifiable?
- Is the technological complexity reasonable?
- What risks arise from using outdated IT components?
When at least a few drivers from both business and technical viewpoints intersect, new opportunities emerge, and strategies for leveraging them become apparent.
The Most Popular Legacy Modernization Strategies
What choices are available for migrating from legacy systems? You have various routes to choose from when considering legacy migration. Let us discover them more closely.
Application rehosting involves migrating your applications from on-premise environments to the cloud without any changes to the underlying code. This approach is essentially about shifting your existing setup to the cloud, offering benefits like high reliability and global accessibility. However, advanced cloud features such as autoscaling might not be accessible. Often, rehosting serves as an initial migration step. Once the transition to the cloud is complete, it is simpler for businesses to modernize their legacy software further.
Application re-platforming involves optimizing applications for cloud compatibility and enhanced performance. It is a reasonable option when you urgently need to boost scalability and performance or aim to leverage cloud capabilities without a complete overhaul of the application’s architecture. That entails making minor adjustments to the software architecture to enable the utilization of cloud-based services like containers, DevOps automation, and modern database management. Businesses can implement autoscaling to efficiently handle cloud resources. This approach is highly effective when an application is tightly integrated with a specific workload.
Application refactoring entails thoroughly redesigning the application architecture and business logic to accelerate design models, database utilization, and coding techniques. This overhaul of the codebase ensures cleaner code, simpler updates, and improved performance. This process also includes comprehensive optimization for the cloud to fully utilize its capabilities. Simultaneously, the application’s functionality and user experience remain unchanged. Refactoring should be selected when the business is prepared to completely shift to a cloud-native architecture.
Full Stack Modernization
In certain cases, legacy applications demand a comprehensive renovation of both front-end and back-end technologies. That is particularly frequent in enterprise applications constructed using outdated software frameworks. The process often includes migrating from .NET Framework to .NET Core for back-end functions and transitioning from AngularJS to Angular for front-end development.
Legacy System Modernization Case Study
A case study centered around legacy system modernization can offer invaluable insights into the transformation journey. Let’s consider an illustrative example:
Case Study: Transforming an Aging ERP System
A global manufacturing company was grappling with an aging Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The legacy ERP, which had served them well for decades, was now hindering growth due to its inability to support real-time data analysis, integrate with modern e-commerce platforms, and adapt to mobile applications. Manual workarounds and data discrepancies were becoming common, impacting operations and customer satisfaction.
The challenges were manifold: outdated technology, complex integrations, lack of skilled resources for maintenance, and the risk of disrupting critical business processes during the transition.
The company embarked on a legacy system modernization journey to revitalize its ERP. The strategy involved a phased approach:
- Assessment: A thorough assessment was conducted to understand the existing system’s architecture, functionalities, and pain points. This helped in identifying areas requiring modernization.
- Technology Stack: The company chose a cloud-based ERP solution with a modular architecture. This allowed them to gradually transition modules to the new system, minimizing disruption.
- Data Migration: Data migration was a critical aspect. Historical data was cleaned, transformed, and migrated to the new system. The team ensured data integrity and consistency during the process.
- Integration: Integrating the new ERP with existing systems was crucial. APIs and middleware were employed to ensure seamless communication between different software.
- User Training: Employees underwent training to familiarize themselves with the new system’s interface, features, and processes.
- Testing: Rigorous testing, including parallel runs, was conducted to validate the accuracy and efficiency of the new system.
Results: The legacy ERP modernization yielded transformative outcomes:
- Real-time Data Insights: The company gained real-time visibility into operations, enabling data-driven decision-making.
- Enhanced Customer Experience: Integration with e-commerce platforms improved customer experience, leading to increased online sales.
- Scalability: The new ERP could scale with business growth, accommodating increased transactions and users.
- Reduced Costs: Automation of manual processes led to operational efficiency and cost savings.
- Agility: The modular architecture facilitated the easy addition of new functionalities as needed.
- Competitive Advantage: The company was now equipped with modern tools to outpace competitors.
To sum up
As you can see, each of these approaches has its advantages, disadvantages, associated costs, risks, and timeframes.
Rehosting, or lift-and-shift migration, is the simplest method as it involves moving on-premise apps to the cloud without altering the code. However, it might offer fewer opportunities. In comparison, the refactoring approach demands more time and resources since it involves rethinking business logic and redesigning existing software. Nonetheless, it leads to enhanced performance.
That embodies the risk-return principle, which requires a balance between minimal effort and associated risks versus increased value and outcomes. A combination of business and technical audits aids in discovering this optimal middle ground within your cloud migration strategy.