A quick introduction about Legacy Systems

All software applications are born, grow, get old, get unbearable for somebody, and die, as humans do. As that’s the rule of time, we should modernize and maintain our applications to our time to lengthen their lifespan and increase their efficiency. Legacy software is a software that has been around a long time (mostly around ten years or more) and still fulfils business needs.

According to Wikipedia, a legacy System is: An old method, technology, computer system, or application program, “of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system,” yet still in use. Often referencing a system as “legacy” means that it paved the way for the standards that would follow it which can also imply that the system is out of date or in need of replacement.

What are the cons of using Legacy applications?

  • High-Security risks of the dependencies and libraries the legacy application uses are most risky. As most dependent libraries are old, some not being maintained anymore, most legacy systems have high-security issues and are open to risks of the outside world.
  • Due to the monolithic architecture of legacy systems, maintenance and operational costs are higher than modern applications.
  • As a result of the old technology stack of legacy applications, it is generally difficult to find knowledgeable developers, and that increases it’s development costs if it requires any further developments and amendments.
  • Due to the old architecture and configured hardware, it is mostly more pricey to maintain legacy applications.

Why are legacy Systems Still in use?

Even though a high percentage of organizations complain about the risks, costs and maintenance of legacy systems, they mostly have compelling reasons for keeping a legacy system, such as:

  • The system works satisfactorily enough, so corporations don’t take risks and time requirements for migration of the projects. Most companies do not see any benefit to change it.
  • The costs of redesigning or replacing the legacy system are high because it is monolithic architecture or complexity.
  • The training costs of a new system might cause a loss of time and money, compared to the high benefits of replacing it.
  • Due to the critical use-case of the legacy application, the legacy system requires high availability, so it cannot be taken out of service, and the cost of dismissing the service may increase. Some legacy applications in banks, computer reservations systems, energy distribution systems, air traffic control, nuclear power plants, military defence systems might be too risky to replace with modern versions.
  • Due to the complexity of the business rules of the legacy system, or the complexity of the architectural design and old tech stack, the migration of the application might be too time-consuming and expensive. Such a situation can occur due to the lack of experienced employees on the system or when the system is not fully/well documented.
  • Newer systems perform undesirable automatic updating that creates “back-door” security vulnerabilities and leaves end users dependent on the good faith and honesty of the vendor providing the updates. This problem is especially acute when these secondary functions of a newer system cannot be disabled.

Common Legacy System modernization approaches

Due to the complexity and design of legacy systems, it is not always a pink world to modernize most of them. Though there are a variety of modernization approaches depending on the project and the modernization objectives.

The legacy systems modernization approach might depend on the initial research of the application and potential risks of the transformation/migration process. The procedure for one application may change for another as these processes are dependent on the legacy application, development language, and architecture.

We should also consider The corporate plans, cost, risks, and results of the legacy migration/transformation process before taking action of the selected approach.

The application discovery stage helps to inspect the problems that a company has with its legacy system and develop a plan for the migration process.

The possible approaches are :

• Application modernization: Requires modernization and optimization of the existing code base without much changing the external and internal behaviour of the app. This process consists of updating the legacy application libraries and dependencies.

• UI/UX improvements: allow modernization of the user interfaces and interactions for better handling. It just renews UI technology in addition to adding some UI features.

• Re-architect: Optimization of the legacy application by re-architecting to better benefit from the capabilities of modern application platforms with improved or same functionalities and fixing the issues with the current architecture. Might require someone with in-depth knowledge of the legacy application or might take time to deep dive into the internals of the legacy application.

• Re-build: Rebuild the legacy system or part of its components from scratch with a modern tech stack. This approach might be an expensive option as it will need someone with knowledge of legacy application and its development language.

• Re-platform: the legacy software with migrating the legacy system to more modern and effective technology platforms.

Oreon offers Legacy System modernisation and migration Services.

As Oreon, due to the costs of maintaining legacy systems, we advise to merge into more modern software systems as soon as possible.

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