What comes to mind when you hear the word “legacy”? Usually, it means that someone is leaving behind something positive. However, in software engineering terms, legacy software is often related to outdated software.
The hurried expansion of technology and user-driven change shapes business software. For the last two years, the change shifted its focus to user-centered software design. Today, user-centered design is essential to modern business software development.
Developers created what is now considered legacy software for a specific purpose, and companies have used it for years. However, as technology advances, so does the way businesses operate. Hence, many medium and large organizations still need to rely on legacy software, limiting their ability to compete in the user-oriented market.
True, there are thousands of companies still running decade-old software. It is not out of function, but it is undoubtedly being run over by the time train. In addition, the expenses for maintaining such software have risen over the years. Partially due to the need for more skilled developers that know the technology.
Eventually, the problems with legacy software keep piling over time, whether it is a patch, bug fix, incomplete documentation, or security issue. These challenges affect business and often have a domino effect where one problem can lead to another.
What is Legacy Software, and Why Must it Change?
We can only discuss legacy software by considering legacy systems. Any outdated operating system, hardware, or software still in use is a legacy system. Computer hardware, software, file formats, and programming languages are all examples of legacy systems.
What is Meant by Legacy Software?
Legacy software is a version of a program or application that uses old technology. However, the software meets the needs it was developed for, but it doesn’t allow growth. Companies that use legacy software usually have older technology systems. For example, Windows 7 has been considered a legacy operating system since the beginning of 2020 when Microsoft stopped its security updates and support.
What are the Main Legacy Software Problems?
Using legacy software means IT professionals must perform frequent backups, purchase additional storage, and convert files to compatible formats. In other words, maintaining legacy software can be costly because of security measures, standards, and performance issues. In addition, organizations can be exposed to data breaches due to outdated security measures.
Despite these high maintenance costs, many companies and governmental systems still rely on legacy software. These giants have used the same technology for decades, and while it was once new, today, it costs more to maintain it. In addition, there is a need for more programmers familiar with the specific programming language, and more often, such companies need someone on-premise to preserve the legacy infrastructure.
TNation’s experience with clients using these systems shows that the reasons for not modernizing vary. Some companies know that additional funds will be required to support the transition. Others fear disruption to the business during the modernization of legacy software. Finally, there is the possibility of retraining staff to use the new software and preventing delays in business services.
What is Legacy Software Modernization?
Legacy software modernization is rebuilding, creating new architecture, and replacing legacy software that no longer performs effectively. Software that cannot satisfy the business needs costs more and prevents the business from growing and reaching its full potential.
Legacy Software Modernization and Preparing for the Future
Many believe that modernization strategies automatically include expensive AI-driven technology. However, reshaping legacy software does not have to incorporate state-of-the-art technology to be introduced into this century. Many businesses come to us with the same question: Why do I need a legacy update? The reasons are simple, security, efficiency, and competitiveness in user-oriented markets to increase revenue.
For example, a business that deals with online shopping across mobile apps and web portals need help scaling its infrastructure and aligning it to its growth. Over the years, the number of visitors increased, representing a significant danger to service performance as the old servers face overloads. As a result, their revenue decreases each time. In addition, with such infrastructure, only some customers get to checkout.
However, if the company modernizes its infrastructure, it can migrate everything from the servers to the Cloud that can handle high loads. In other words, just by moving to the Cloud safely, they are increasing their revenue.
Sometimes legacy software is the beating heart of an entire business. It impacts the growth of the whole company, but it can only go so far. So, deciding to modernize it and introduce it to a long-term strategy can take time and effort.
The best way to approach legacy application modernization is to take three steps in planning the future of the business. The first step is to define how the future software architecture will align with business goals. The second step is to check how the current software state plays a role in the future. Lastly, plan the modernization with all the resources in a cost-effective way.
The Big Four Key Findings on Legacy Systems and Modernization
Deloitte states in one of its publications how significant legacy software modernization is for businesses. In their analogy to a phoenix rising from the ashes, reborn, the audit company claims that the companies can achieve low-risk and cost-effective modernization of their business-critical tools and services in three steps.
Deloitte’s strategists claim the Cloud has its benefits to help businesses lower costs and achieve greater flexibility and faster services. According to Deloitte, one of the factors influential in the process of modernization is UI or user interface improvement. The UI is the first contact with consumers and is essential to the overall user experience.
Another critical factor is the elastic environment. Deloitte recommends the transition to cloud-based serverless computing. The study noticed 94% of cost-savings on such applications instead of software in machine-based environments.
In their EY Survey, the audit company states that many medium and large companies still use legacy software, hindering the ability to remain flexible and innovative in the user-centered market.
Surveying many CIOs, they have discovered that technical debt is the most crucial issue in legacy programs. COBOL, one of the most used programming languages from 1959 in 43% of US banks, is an example. According to their research, companies that modernize legacy programs tend to seek investment returns.
In KPMG’s research in the finance sector, the company came to results rarely mentioned in the articles supporting legacy modernization. In the paper, KPMG stresses the importance of assessment and evaluation before the actual process. According to them, a clear strategy dealing with adequate resources, a business case, and an appointed person to lead the project is just as important as the act itself. Thus, businesses avoid failure by modernizing their legacy software.
PWC supports the Cloud as the number one factor powering the digital transformation. However, their Cloud Survey shows that 70% of its IT budget goes to legacy system maintenance. The percentage is the main reason companies decide to move to the Cloud.
However, PWC found that modernizing the software and moving it to the Cloud is not enough. The audit company stresses in their survey the importance of creating a business strategy to harness cloud opportunities rather than simply commencing a cloud or data center migration.
Benefits of Legacy Software Modernization
Many business owners have thought about digital transformation but have halted because they have legacy software running in the background. It served the enterprise in its previous digital maturity but brought difficulties to its progress as it ages. There are many benefits to modernizing decades-old software and bringing it to this century and new digital life, but let’s name a few important ones.
Improved Employee Productivity
Modernizations mean better code, managed databases, and high flexibility. For example, web-based solutions widely used today allow employees to work in real-time, regardless of location. Likewise, different departments in the same organization have distinct needs. For example, one may require additional storage space, and the other needs fast processing.
By modernizing the legacy system, it becomes flexible and portable for managing resources and achieving higher results. In addition, new hires do not have to undergo the training process to use legacy programs. Modern technology allows repetitive tasks to automate and become easier to use.
Legacy software security issues are the most important reason why companies choose to modernize software. As the legacy application is prone to corruption due to the vast knowledge of such solutions, cybercriminals are likely to use it for their dark purposes. Modernizing the software gives it new protection for all business databases and transactions.
Higher Customer Experience
The customer is always right. Although we have heard the phrase many times, it has become even more critical in the digital world. Many businesses report that their clients are ready to pay an even higher price for the product or service if they get a good experience and unlimited support. In other words, support and expertise become equally crucial as the price. In addition, consumers can easily navigate the system with modernized software instead of legacy programs.
Revenue and Flexibility in Future
The modernization of applications, software, or websites helps increase revenue. Not only does it keep customers satisfied, but it allows flexibility. For instance, it is expanding business and adding additional features or new services to the software. In addition, the modern type of software grows with the company instead of legacy software which takes a portion of the budget for maintenance.
Legacy Software Modernization – A Journey to New Digital Life
Software modernization is essential for adapting, growing, and remaining competitive. As a result, companies rethink their business strategies to bridge the gap between existing products and client expectations. However, legacy programs are only one component of the issue. They come with risks and obstacles that organizations should not ignore. Businesses intending to modernize legacy software systems must have an experienced in-house team or seek a reputable partner.
TNation is a software development and outsourcing company with previous experience in legacy codes. If you want to unlock the hidden potential of your legacy software, contact us.