Top 3 Approaches to Legacy System Modernization
There are no positives to outdated applications. In this article we will be talking about 3 agile approaches to legacy system modernization.
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Your system is putting your business at risk and you haven’t fixed it. Don’t touch what isn’t broken, right? Well, while that may be currently working for you, you are walking down a slippery slope. Legacy systems for long-term business operations come with many risks, and it may be time for a change. We will discuss ways to move on from legacy systems to put your business in a better position.
Define Your Legacy System
There is no standard or generally accepted definition of a legacy system. When talking about legacy systems, age is not the first point of consideration. While this may be a factor, it is not always the case because newer systems and software can be classified as legacy systems.
Think of a legacy system as an outdated system, which is no longer necessary or relevant to your business—relevance in the sense that it does not serve your company’s needs anymore.
The system can be a:
- Software application.
- Hardware system.
- Network applications, etc.
Assessing The Risks
In a world of modernization and technological advancements, holding on to legacy systems comes with its problems. These problems pose a significant threat to your business and its processes.
While some business owners may think that sticking with legacy systems saves costs, that is simply not true in the long term. There’s a significantly higher cost of maintaining legacy systems over time. This maintenance can stem from the inability of your legacy systems to automate software processes that can be done with newer systems. There is also a cost associated with hiring experts to handle maintenance.
Decreased Competitive Advantage
Your legacy systems are not only hindering your processes but holding you back from running in the innovation race with your competitors. New technologies are often birthed to address current market needs. Dependency on a legacy system does no good because it cannot provide solutions to those needs due to its ineffectiveness. This hampers business growth and can sometimes leave the business in a vulnerable position.
Older systems are more vulnerable to security risks and attacks. Legacy systems come with fewer updates and patches, thus making it easier for such systems to be breached. Also, there is a higher tendency of data loss when such systems fail. This leaves your business less safe and secure.
Furthermore, there are regulatory risks associated with compliance. For example, the use of legacy systems usually results in non-compliance because current regulations do not put legacy systems into consideration.
Legacy systems can only support file formats up to a certain point. If business needs require newer and updated formats, such systems won’t be capable of handling such requests.
Why Is It Still In Use?
Now that we are well aware of the risks of legacy systems, the big question is, why do companies/businesses still use them?
Some business owners believe that there is no “real need” for a change if something works. There is familiarity with how it works, and there are no roadblocks when using such systems.
The Fear Of Uncertainty
Migrating from legacy systems to modern systems creates a fear of uncertainty. For sure, no migration is seamless. Sometimes it comes with a lot of bugs that need fixing. Because downtime, amongst other factors post-migration, cannot be estimated by some businesses, they prefer to stick to what they already have that works.
Some business owners are unsure of the systems that best fit their needs. So instead of leaping to an unknown and uncertain destination, they stick to what is already in use.
High Transition Cost
Some businesses are not in the best position to handle the financial burden of migrating to newer systems. This leaves them with no choice but to stick to their current systems.
Moving on From Legacy Systems
Eventually, every system will become a legacy system, although some will take a longer time than others. It’s just a matter of when. With that in mind, let’s talk upgrade! There are different approaches to migration from a legacy system to a modern one.
Before going in-depth, it is paramount to have a good understanding of your existing systems and plans. Having this information at hand will help with decision-making on the approach to be adopted.
This is the initial analysis stage where research has to be carried out. Also, it is best to consult other technical experts to set clear goals. Know that migration is all about strengthening your business processes instead of weakening them.
Know Your Current Standing
It is essential to understand where your business currently stands in terms of the use of its systems. It is best to liaise or consult with technological experts during this stage. This can be carried out in different ways, such as code reviews and testing, market research, etc. The goal is to know where you are and where you need to be.
Evaluate Problems and Set Clear Goals
This process aims to pinpoint the exact improvement areas of the business. This can be done by conducting interviews to measure performance and user experience. This is not limited as you can also use whatever technique you deem best to evaluate problems. When this is achieved, it goes a great deal in choosing the best migration approach and setting clear goals for the future.
Analyze and Choose What Is Best
Now that the other steps mentioned above have been executed, this stage is all about evaluating the different approaches to migration and picking the best one. This is because the different approaches are best suited for different scenarios. This means that the selection process should be well-thought-out, as going with a less suitable approach could be fatal.
Different Approaches To Modernization
There are three main approaches to legacy systems modernization.
This is by far the most lenient approach to modernization. This involves moving part of your system from an on-site infrastructure to the cloud with little or no need for code modification.
The advantage of this approach is minimal disruption to ongoing processes, and it does not tamper with application architecture. It is a seamless approach that is also less expensive. However, it is not advisable to use this approach if there are significant flaws in the system architecture since there’s minor code modification involved.
This approach is much more advanced than the cloud adoption method. This approach involves significant code modification to upgrade the system. This is a good alternative for your business if your current systems cannot be further developed.
This is the best option to use when your system needs fresh features or additional code changes for cloud adoption. This approach also does not make changes to the application architecture.
This approach comes into play when there is a need for a complete overhaul of the system. If minor modifications no longer get the job done or there is a need for a quick and effective change, a complete rewrite of the system is necessary. Think of it as a fresh start.
This approach requires more time and financial commitments, as it affects architecture and design. Implementing this approach will also have a noticeable effect on the business's day-to-day operations, which is why it is vital to carry this out mindfully.
Migrating from a legacy system may be difficult due to different reasons. However, it is advised that you evaluate your business needs and make that difficult change as soon as possible. Try to identify the best approach your business requires and work with it. Ensure to carry out this change effectively by engaging an experienced and reliable team to make it a seamless process.
Published at DZone with permission of Mario Olomu. See the original article here.
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