6 Approaches to Legacy System Modernization

The need for innovative technologies and intuitive business solutions is increasing in the digital world.
Not to mention your systems and software can make or break the deal when it comes to adapting to new challenges, business growth, and increased competitiveness.
However, you might have many legacy systems in your organization that are problematic to maintain and integrate with other systems. They may hold back your business operations relying on them.
So, do you think replacing them entirely is the best option out there? 
It’s because those systems handle some of the crucial business processes, and you would never want to just let go of them when there are other options available.
That’s where the legacy system modernization comes into the picture.
If you face some legacy challenges, first understand the problem you want to solve. Next, follow some of the approaches that I’ll be covering in this article to upgrade those systems and improve them without disrupting any internal process.
But first, understand some basic things that will help you understand the legacy modernization approaches better.
So, let’s explore!

​What are legacy systems and their examples?
A legacy system is a device, software, or any other obsolete technology that people still use today.
When a technology becomes outdated, old, and incapable of delivering the same kind of service as compared to the present technologies available around, developers refer to it as a legacy system.  

Examples of Legacy Systems
●      A voicemail system using hardware and software from the 90’s
●      Software requiring a dongle plugged-in into a parallel port in order to provide copy protection
●      Hardware used in many power plants
●      Computer with MS-DOS controlling manufacturing machines

​Issues associated  with legacy systems:
Legacy systems can slow down or block the ability of an organization to grow and adapt to the changes in present-day business dynamics. They are vulnerable to security risks and other issues related to maintenance, improvement, support, integration, and user experience.
As a result, operational efficiency decreases in addition to the risk of online attacks that can lead to huge business losses in terms of money, fame, and customers.
This is why you need the legacy system modernization, which is the next point of discussion in this article. 

What’s legacy system modernization?
Simply put, the legacy system modernization refers to updating and/or replacing inefficient or outdated systems, applications, or processes in your current IT stack, either completely or partially. This is done to support your processes and business goals.
The market size of application modernization services is projected to grow from $11.4 billion to $24.8 billion during 2020-2025, says this report.
To drive innovation into your business, you need new and efficient technologies that can cater to real-world challenges. You need fast systems and applications that can support your platforms, connectivity, and integration to optimize business operations. 

Benefits of modernizing legacy systems:
Legacy system modernization is not a mandatory process for all organizations. However, you may require some sort of modification or update in order to increase efficiencies and meet the expectations of your stakeholders as well as customers.
It can bring the following benefits:

●         Enhanced business agility due to flexible applications, well-managed databases, better codes, and higher scalability. Hence, you can serve your customers better.
●      Improved team performance and productivity with fast systems and applications that reduce lag time. You can move your systems to the cloud to automate everyday activities as well.
●      Sturdy security using new-age technologies that mitigate online threats like advanced firewalls, suspend brute force attacks, stronger password management, and more.
●      Cost reduction as a modern system lets you re-architect legacy codes using an open-source programming language.
You can also automate manual tasks, repurpose codes, optimize business operations, and utilize cloud commuting to further reduce cost. Maintenance and diagnosing issues also become easy and less costly. 
●      Better customer experience by automating manual processes, launching new offerings, fixing issues sooner, and assisting them faster.  

How to prepare for it?
If you have understood the significance of legacy system modernization, the next thing is to prepare for it in advance.
For that matter, requirements differ from one organization to another. This is the reason why you should have a plan which makes it easy to adopt a strong strategy. You can prepare for legacy modernization by:

●      Defining the exact goal behind modernization by understanding your issues with the technology, functionality, or other aspects of a system or application
●     Measuring the present state of your systems by inspecting the performance, end-user experience, and their impact over your business
●      Selecting a sustainable modernization approach that can resolve your issues
But how are you planning to do that?
Let’s figure out how!

6 approaches for legacy system modernization

Re-platforming When a system or any of its components gets migrated to another platform, you can call the process as re-platforming. It involves minimal modifications to its codes in order to adapt the system to the fresh platform.
Here, the basic code structure, functionalities, and features of the systems stay the same. It is done just to switch the systems to a more advanced platform.
Once it is complete, you are allowed to run several tests in order to derive essential analytics showing the specific codes needed for re-scripting or re-compiling. 

Rehosting This process requires you to redeploy a system to another virtual, physical, or even cloud infrastructure for that matter.
In this scenario, the application codes are unaltered and uncompiled without modifying its functionalities and features. Rehosting leaves very few or no impact over the system’s business logic. It is faster, cost-efficient, and involves lower risk.

Re-architecting Re-architecting is the process of shifting a legacy system to a new and better architecture so that you can explore its best capabilities. Here, you need to modify the system codes based on the model of microservices that you can build, manage, and deploy independently.
This process includes technologies such as JPlaton, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and more. It gives you improved business agility plus a faster way to market your offerings

Refactoring In this approach of performing legacy system modernization, optimization and restructuring of the existing code take place. It does not involve any modifications in its external behavior.
This process helps improve the functionalities as well as the features of a component minus technical debts. Hence, if you re-code some parts of an application, you can maximize operational cost-efficiency and take significant benefits of the features native to the cloud.

Rewriting Rewriting includes both redesigning and rebuilding an application as a whole or some of its components from scratch. However, the process preserves the applications’ specifications and scope.
It helps you address the unique challenges that present-day businesses face. The process provides fast developing times, customized network protocols, and ensures better security by leveraging advanced coding techniques.

Replacing The final approach to modernizing a legacy system is by replacing it. Because sometimes it’s best to replace a system with another one instead of investing in modernization.
It involves the removal of the existing system and then replacing it with a new one. In the process, you need to take new specifications and requirements in addition to the customer expectations associated with the system or an application.
The technologies utilized to perform the replacement include a Low Code BPM interface with a SaaS or Software-as-a-Service solution. It also accelerates developing times, security, and lets you utilize the system’s better capabilities.  

Case Studies:
Let’s now look at some of the successful real-life stories where many organizations have leveraged legacy system modernization to achieve benefits.

●      The IT giant, Infosys, modernized the enrollment and eligibility system for the DC or District of Columbia into an integrated and modern system. This system supports a wide-ranging social and health programs, including Food & Cash assistance as well as MAGI Medicaid. It increased the productivity of workers and provided a single access point to multiple human and health service programs for the citizens of DC.
●      Infosys also helped a multinational logistics and transportation company to re-engineer their mainframe applications which consumed around 3M lines of code upon 110 interfaces designated for 6,000 users in 92 countries. They transformed their legacy applications into an API-based, scalable Java architecture capable of helping faster, modern, and future-proof systems.

Legacy system modernization, indeed, is a complex process that requires time and serious efforts with a hint of certain risks involved. However, if it is done right; the results you can achieve are well worth it.  
Thus, instead of using the same legacy systems that deteriorate your organizational efficiency and impact your revenue, leverage legacy system modernization techniques based on your needs.
This way, you can meet your customers’ expectations, accelerate your operations, and keep running a profitable business.