Leave Legacy Technology in the Past

By Ryan Vice | Posted on June 8, 2020

Technology Trends

Do you have any aging architecture, software or applications that keep you up at night? Are you worried that they’re preventing you from staying competitive and attaining your business goals? You aren’t alone. Humans have been building software for decades, and like anything else, what once was new will one day become old. As customer behavior and enterprise norms have shifted over time, requirements for applications have also changed. This means your need for technology modernization will only grow stronger as more time passes, but if you do it now, managing updates in the future will be much easier. 

Any outdated method, system or application qualifies as legacy technology if it blocks or slows down your ability to grow and adapt to changes in your environment. You’ll notice other issues cropping up too such as difficulty performing maintenance and support, inability to integrate with other applications, a poor user experience and the inability to implement updates. 

Those of us in tech experience daily the consequences of failing to address issues of legacy technology. More recently, though, regular people across America saw how a vital system becomes all but unusable when it can’t be properly managed. 

The coronavirus pandemic left millions out of work. When they lost their jobs, they followed procedure and applied for unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, twelve states still use COBOL, a decades-old coding language that few still know, in their unemployment systems. The sudden influx of applications overwhelmed these systems and held up billions of dollars of benefits. The situation was only made worse by the lack of software engineers familiar with this outdated system. The irony in all of this is that COBOL was originally developed to make it easier to upgrade systems by creating a standard coding language

COBOL underscores an important truth of technology: eventually, your once modern system will become a hindrance. Technology modernization – updating all or some of your IT stack to better support your business goals and processes – can’t be avoided if you want to continue to adapt and grow your business.

What You Get for Modernizing

Modernizing a legacy system seems like an intimidating undertaking – and you’re not wrong that it can be a big change, especially for the older applications – but putting in the hard work now results in far more benefits for your business down the road. 

  • Cost Savings: Having up-to-date, integrated and user-friendly software will almost certainly save your organization on transactions, downtime and more. It’s important to remember this as you come to terms with the upfront costs of technology modernization. Your legacy system is already costing you money; truly solving its problems requires more than basic triage. 
  • Better Security: Hackers are always upping their game and learning new tricks. For that reason, legacy systems are almost always less secure from cyber attacks, malware and even good old fashioned “social” hacking efforts. Many vulnerabilities can be closed by updating legacy systems and security protocols for the modern era. 
  • Integrations: In much the same way that cellular networks no longer support older smartphones, connecting legacy software to third-party services, tools or data requires a great deal of customization and coding time compared to modern systems. Modernizing your software will make integrations much more seamless. 
  • Growth: Lighter applications and more agile workflows allow you to improve the experience on both the frontend and the backend, helping you answer the demands of users faster and lead to higher satisfaction with the platform. 

Technology Modernization Strategy

Every application is different, having its own requirements and upgrades to get it back up to par. For that reason there are several options to choose from when it comes to how you’ll modernize your applications. 

Rebuild & Replace

This is the route you take when so much work needs to be done to fix the existing system that it’s just easier to start from scratch. To begin, you first evaluate what worked and didn’t work with the original system and then use this knowledge to build a completely new application. It may include some of the same components as its predecessor, but your new system will utilize new technology to better address your needs and the requirements of operating in this day and age. 

Starting fresh with a whole new system sounds nice, especially when you’re overwhelmed and frustrated with your legacy platform, but it’s also the most expensive option, so make sure you truly need it. 

Gradual Replacement

Rather than taking on a complete demolition and rebuilding a new and improved version, this option allows you to replace your system component by component as needed. This makes for a slower transition to a newer platform that will be less disruptive for users and the system as a whole. It’s also more of a top-down approach as opposed to rebuilding from the ground up. You’re not so much as fixing the core issues but the symptoms that arise from them and affect users on the surface level. 

A strategy of gradual replacement is not a good idea for larger, more complex architecture. As you attempt to fix just one thing at a time, you’ll inevitably disrupt other parts of the system and slow down your progress.

The Quick Fix

If you’re thinking you’d like to spend the least amount of money possible on your technology modernization project, we get it. If that’s the route you want to go, then you must first assess your legacy technology and find the areas that have the biggest impact on downtime. Then you can patch these problems with new code, apps or processes. 

We caution you to seriously consider if this is actually the smartest approach for you in the long run. Your app may need more than simple fixes to truly work at the standards you require, and this strategy may just be putting off the inevitable and costing you money in the meantime. However, if your system doesn’t require too much work, then there’s no need to go overboard implementing useless changes. 

Improve (But Keep)

 If you don’t plan on making any major changes to your architecture, but you want to add more efficiency to your system, this is the option for you. Rather than assessing your tech stack to determine where changes can be made in the codebase, you focus on how processes, workflows and management can be retooled to improve usability. 

You may make some changes to the code, though none that affect features or functionality. For instance, making the decision to migrate data to the cloud or optimizing existing code line by line and getting rid of the unnecessary fluff. 

Vice Software

Over the years, we’ve seen many instances of companies running their business processes with older assets, and we understand the dilemma these businesses face. Whether your legacy technology requires rehosting or a complete overhaul, the experts at Vice Software will work closely with your business to find solutions. 

Your technology modernization strategy can take several different routes, and our engineers work with your business to determine the most cost-effective and scalable methods. Utilizing the latest technologies and best practices, we ensure the process of migrating and updating your data adds no extra strain to your business practices while creating more value for you in the future. We’ll ensure that your company’s long-term value remains with your technology rather than the select people who know how to use it. 

We treat each modernization project as a unique case, utilizing a variety of tools and skills to aid the application modernization strategy we’ve worked together with our clients to create. Due to our unique development methods, we are able to give our clients the experience of onshore architects with the cost-effective value of a rockstar offshore team. If you’re ready to leave your legacy technology in the past and embrace modern solutions, contact Vice Software today. With some basic information about your project, we can get you a quote!

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