“Legacy code often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling.”
Today, technologies are being improved at a rapid pace. Nevertheless, products that appear on the market involve new features, but also consider the advantages and functionality of their predecessors.
The lifetime value of IT services and software decreased significantly in comparison with the 10 years ago rate. It’s a complicated task for companies to keep up with technological trends, and some have no desire and motivation to “update” their legacy systems. It’s worth highlighting that no one is immune from aging systems.
Today we are going to speak about legacy systems and try to understand whether businesses should transform old software. Let’s figure it out, what’s cheaper and more efficient: maintenance or modernization of an outdated software?
What is a legacy system?
Legacy system is an obsolete tech that still carries out its functions but doesn’t have any support and updates. This could refer to hardware (e.g. on-premise servers or localized technology stack instead of cloud computing), software (e.g. monolithic instead of microservices architectures), or very often a combination of both. It should be noted that many companies use some legacy systems today despite super-fast technological development. They are simply glued to such software and don’t want to change anything. Old systems are always in need of replacement, because over time they are ceasing to meet the requirements.
Why don’t businesses want to get rid of such software?
Despite regular complaints about inflexible legacy IT systems, a lot of organizations is still using them in specific ways. Companies need to spend too much time updating something. It is much easier to maintain the code to save resources and money. Such a principle works not only with businesses, but also with general app/browser users.
Challenges and risks
The choice of companies towards obsolete systems is sometimes justified because they solve local problems. However, there are companies that build all their activities using outdated software.
All the challenges and risks we can connect with the implementation of a new system or continuing use of the old one. Every business should understand all the advantages and disadvantages while choosing software to work. Let’s start with the risks and challenges concerning the implementation of a new system.
- It can be much more expensive than leaving everything, as it was;
- It’s possible that the new one won’t support all the processes from a previous system;
- Modernization could drag on for years because of tremendous data set;
- Changes might lead to stopping the company’s activity (if the legacy system is significant to day-to-day operations).
Meanwhile, challenges that a company can face while keeping use of such a system are:
- Outdated software might not be compatible with new systems or technologies that are also essential to the business;
- There is a lack of specialists that can deal with such systems/ programming languages/ applications;
- Obsolete systems are extremely unsafe;
- If a specialist will have some problems with a software, it would be hard to repair it because of a potential documentation loss.
Each company needs to set its priorities right and manage its budget.
Hidden costs of maintenance
Sometimes users of legacy software don’t even know all the hidden costs of it. Such systems bottle up a bunch of costs, and now we are going to list most of them.
The first, and the most significant, is money. Sometimes it’s cheaper to modernize a system, but often companies overpay for maintenance. Just remember, these costs typically decrease for a while as a product approaches end of life (i.e., as spare parts become more available when most users sell off old storage arrays or phone systems – then increase steadily, sometimes sharply afterward, such as when those part stocks dry up).
No one wants to spend his time and resources doing a routine that doesn’t have any future. IT specialists are interested in obtaining relevant skills, so business enterprises find it hard and expensive to recruit or keep the staff. Such factors lead to critical inadequacy of staff resources and high cost of consulting services.
It goes without saying, that the older software is, the less its hack sustainability is. It’s connected with vulnerabilities of a system that wasn’t and probably won’t be removed. Documentation loss as well can further complicate the troubleshooting process. In addition, data leaks can lead to large financial costs for a company.
All processes slow down many times in comparison with newer versions of systems. This is due to the pace of technology development and automation. Time is money, so it’s not cost-effective to waste it on trifles. Sometimes, because of lengthy data processing, the quality drops, which is also not very good.
Why should businesses modernize their legacy systems?
The reluctance to update the existing IT infrastructure can lead to the fact that the enterprise will have to work alone with outdated technology. It’s clear that the best way in different business situations is modernization of outdated systems. It’s a general term covering a wide range of strategies, including porting to another platform and (or) another hosting, code review, architecture redesign and many others. The software modernization strategy should be focused on innovation.
Businesses need to close the modernization gap or they will fall behind the industry, competitors and ever-improving technologies. As cliché as this sounds, it’s quite an important task. Starting this process with an in-depth assessment of your legacy application portfolio and determining the best course of action based on the results will help your company ensure that it is choosing the best strategy to meet its challenges. By making a gap analysis, a business can pinpoint its weaknesses and factor them into your strategy.
In addition, your organization’s budget and risk tolerance are important factors in developing a system modernization strategy. For example, a complete rebuild or replacement of the software may resolve application issues, but this approach may not be workable due to financial or time constraints. Such factors need to be determined through analysis so that companies won’t have serious obstacles in the future.
When talking about legacy software update, often the first step is migrating on-premise servers to the cloud. Virtually every traditional vendor today has cloud versions of systems that were previously offered only as on-premises one. This provides tremendous flexibility for most companies that now operate in a hybrid environment, both on-premises and in the cloud.
The outdated systems maintenance is just investing money into the past. Such systems don’t have any development. Cutting-edge software will help your business to avoid technical troubles and close all the gaps in security. Actually, with the help of the operation, you can speed up and reduce the cost of all the processes. Using cloud-based systems promotes the development of the latest technologies and attracts progressive specialists to the company.
There is no definite answer for what’s cheaper: maintenance or modernization of outdated systems. It depends on the type of business, role of your software, how old the one is, what tasks does the system perform and many other factors.
A business should understand what risks and tests it takes using such systems.. However, no matter how “comfortable” it is to work with outdated systems, you should not stand still. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to get rid of the process if you cannot get rid of the technology. Companies that use the latest technologies in their work are much more attractive to both potential employees and investors.
By the way Azati helped a well-known software integrator to eliminate legacy code, rebuild a complex web application, and fix the majority of mission-critical bugs.