In the last decade business technology has evolved exponentially. Lately, we’ve been witnessing extraordinary events that strengthened the need for a modern technology environment that is agile and responsive enough to meet rapidly evolving business dynamics. Since mobile devices and cloud computing is a must in the business environment, a lot of companies are looking to incorporate modern technologies like artificial intelligence and automation into their workflows.
So the question of what to do with the old aging platforms and legacy systems is a top-notch issue for a lot of companies and industries today. In this article, we would like to clarify everything around that topic and share the experience we gained while working on these kinds of projects for our clients.
But, before we continue…
What is a legacy system?
A legacy system is an old software system, platform, or application based on outdated technology and it’s hard to replace because it handles day-to-day operations within an organization.
A legacy system generally accesses large data stored in database management systems running on mainframes or mid-range platforms.
Yes. These systems made economic sense when they were built. The functionality of these systems was obvious at the time of installation. However, as technology and business needs have evolved, they have become wasteful and unprofitable to maintain.
How do I know that my system needs to be rebuilt?
Technology is growing faster than ever. Almost every day there is a new tool, framework, or feature appearing. So, when the system or application you’ve spent money to develop and years working and generating data is not meeting your business needs anymore is frustrating and you should start considering rebuilding your legacy software.
Signs that should make you consider rebuilding your system:
- Outdated software is difficult to update and is expensive to maintain
- New features are changing the original vision of the product
- UX patterns have expanded and affected older software.
- It’s not mobile compatible since it wasn’t included when the original code was written.
- Your architecture is not secure enough
- The company’s rates are decreasing as potential clients are looking for more modern, intuitive, and user-friendly solutions.
- Manual workloads (if your employees need to do part of their job manually, it means that data is leaking from your organization)
- The server can’t keep up with the demand
Is my system or app stopping my business from growing and reaching its full potential? - This is the first question you must ask yourself. If the current setup of your system is not scalable, or it’s too slow, or it doesn’t work as intended anymore it’s time to start thinking about modernizing it or even start from scratch.
Yes, we know. Nobody wants to start over. It’s natural and we understand that most people don’t like change and sometimes even fear and don’t trust change. But, change is inevitable and if you want your business to remain competitive you must embrace transformation and modernization.
How can I benefit from rebuilding my legacy system?
Rebuilding your legacy system bring you the following benefits:
- Operational efficiency - Modern software performs better, delivers faster time to market, and better experiences for internal and external customers.
- Competitive advantage - Operating in an industry dominated by decades-old technology behemoths, you have a chance to outperform the competitors simply by offering a modern and lightweight solution.
- Unlocking big data opportunities - Outdated storage solutions prevent you from accessing and making use of your data. Database migration and optimization are required to successfully tap the big data opportunities.
- Cost reduction: Taking monolithic applications, data center space, and physical servers out of service reduces software, hardware, and licensing costs.
- Boost customer/employee experience - User experience and design standards have evolved significantly over the last several years. Having a modern, sleek interface and user-centric intuitive experiences can boost your customer satisfaction and employee performance.
- IT agility - Modernized and up-to-date systems can adapt your environment to react faster to changes, leverage data and new business opportunities, integrate with other systems to optimize processes, and adopt new emerging technologies.
- Future-ready business - By modernizing your legacy system, you make sure your business is ready to evolve and scale, leveraging the benefits of technology advances. Plus, keeping up with the latest technology trends creates an internal culture of business agility and innovation in your organization.
Steps for rebuilding legacy system
1. Align the system with your business strategy
Before jumping into the project of rebuilding your old system, business and IT executives must understand exactly what this system does and how it reflects the business strategy.
Does the new system make sense for your business? Does it reduce risk? Will the users adopt it with ease? If you answer ‘yes’ to all three, the path is clear.
2. Identify the gaps
The second step is to identify the gaps between the tasks your current system can complete and the tasks it should complete to reach your business goals.
3. Choose between partial or complete rebuild options
This is a complex part, and you should decide it with your internal IT team or with the team that will work on the rebuilding. According to Gartner, there are different approaches to this issue, each with its degree of difficulty and benefits, but you must be aware of the code and the technology used in the current system. Depending on the state and age of the code and the technology you can:
- Encapsulate. Leverage and extend the application features by encapsulating its data and functions, making them available as services via an API.
- Rehost. Redeploy the application component to other infrastructure (physical, virtual, or cloud) without modifying its code, features, or functions.
- Replatform. Migrate to a new runtime platform, making minimal changes to the code, but not the code structure, features, or functions.
- Refactor. Restructure and optimize the existing code (although not its external behavior) to remove technical debt and improve nonfunctional attributes.
- Rearchitect. Materially alter the code to shift it to new application architecture and exploit new and better capabilities.
- Rebuild. Redesign or rewrite the application component from scratch while preserving its scope and specifications.
- Replace. Eliminate the former application component and replace it, considering new requirements and needs at the same time.
The right option for your organization will help reduce costs and make your operations more agile.
4. Rethink the definition of MVP (minimum viable product)
You can’t overhaul legacy systems at once. Avoid thinking that you should rebuild every single feature from the old system, and instead, try to be more pragmatic by focusing your early releases on some limited end-to-end workflows, open protocols, machine learning, and security. Make sure your team makes assumptions based on data about how to handle improvements.
This is enough to have a stable foundation of modern architecture that can be expanded by flexible frameworks and other emerging technologies.
5. Move your data to the cloud
Simple as that. Just do it, so you’re not trapped by a specific technology.
6. Keep an updated rebuild roadmap
When rebuilding and adopting new technologies the only thing that matters is how your customers are affected. The success in your rebuild is winning and keeping the trust and loyalty of your customers as they start using the new version. Make sure to keep them informed and commit yourself and the team to deliver frequent updates.
Rebuilding is not easy and will not happen overnight, but the success of it is guaranteed if well planned and professionally executed. These kinds of projects are incredibly challenging but also incredibly rewarding, so it’s well worth the effort.
If you’re already having challenges with this issue and you’re on the lookout for an extended team, we would be happy to apply our knowledge and experience to your project and deliver new technical and business opportunities. Let’s talk!