How to Modernize Legacy Tech the Right Way

Businesses that have been around the block a few times are well aware that they must keep innovating to stay competitive and attract customers. Strategies and goals that worked yesterday may not work today in the face of changing market conditions and customer needs. 

But many businesses overlook the need to keep innovating and evolving their software. You may have a strategic digital transformation plan in place to keep your business moving forward, but don’t forget about your software. After all, software, unlike wine, does not get better with time, and running your operations on outdated platforms can leave your business vulnerable to losing valuable information and even to threats such as hackers and malware. 

So what is a business to do? It could be time to modernize your legacy platforms to ensure operational efficiency and make sure your business doesn’t miss a beat.

What Is Legacy Tech?

To help us understand how to update your outdated platforms, let’s start by identifying what those platforms are. Legacy systems are outdated software programs that are still being used because they support critical business needs. But, these programs are often only still in use because they’re keeping things running. However, they’re probably unable to integrate with new products or can’t keep up with organizational growth (they may even be hindering it). These platforms can lead to years of unresolved issues and the accumulation of technical debt.  

It’s easy to assume that all legacy systems have been in operation for years and are deemed “old.” However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, a legacy platform can be defined as such because of its inability to work with other systems or respond to changing business needs. These systems may also no longer be supported by the vendor or it can be next to impossible to find someone who can maintain the platform and respond to issues. In a situation like this, it can get expensive and time consuming to keep a legacy system up and running, and your team may divert precious time to developing workarounds to achieve desired functionality. 

However you slice it, depending on legacy tech to keep your business running can pose a very real threat to your innovation and viability. So while your legacy systems may technically still be working, they could be stifling, or even harming, your business.

It’s Time to Modernize

If your platforms have become too expensive to maintain, offer poor security, or are holding you back from innovating, it could be time to update your legacy tech. And while change can be hard, it’s vital to keeping your business moving forward and staying competitive. In fact, 55% of companies without a digital transformation plan believe they have less than a year before they start to lose market share. 

Updating outdated systems can be a daunting challenge to undertake, and it’s difficult to know where to start. So we’ve broken down seven approaches to consider when modernizing legacy platforms.

  1. Rebuilding. This approach can be helpful when foundational elements of the legacy platform are worth preserving. Rebuilding or redesigning involves rewriting the legacy application’s code from scratch into a fully modernized, cloud native environment. While rebuilding is one of the longest approaches and can be deemed as risky, the benefits may outweigh the risks and you’ll end up with a more flexible system with better performance and lower operating costs.
  2. Encapsulating. This is one of the most cost-efficient and quickest approaches to updating legacy software. It reuses the main components of a legacy application by encapsulating functions and data and making it available through an API. In short, this approach offers a new interface for the legacy system. However, it’s important to note this won’t solve maintenance issues so this is only a good option if your legacy tech has good code, is working well, and still provides good business value.
  3. Replatforming. This technique involves migrating a legacy app or its components to a new platform with few changes to the code. This is a good option if there is concern about user adoption to a wholly new system. The benefit of replatforming is that it offers base cloud functionality and optimizes costs. 
  4. Rehosting. This approach redeploys the application, without code or functionality changes, to other physical, virtual, or cloud infrastructures. Rehosting can be very cost effective and save you a lot of time as well as resolve any support or maintenance issues. While this approach doesn’t make full use of cloud native features, it does offer reliable security and the ability to roll out real-time updates. 
  5. Rearchitecting. A more advanced approach to modernizing legacy systems, rearchitecting involves creating a new architecture and making changes to the code. It can be a risky approach but it improves platform functionality, simplifies the process of adding new features, and offers improved capabilities of the new tech stack. This technique can also help with scalability issues and streamline the addition of new features. 
  6. Refactoring. This is a good approach for optimizing existing code without affecting the legacy platform’s behavior. To ensure a smooth migration to the cloud, refactoring involves making changes to backend elements to take full advantage of cloud-native features and moving from containers to microservices. Refactoring can make your platforms more flexible, perform better, and reduce your technical debt. 
  7. Replacing. If none of the approaches above seem like the right solution for your business, then the legacy platform may not be worth saving. In this case, it could be time to retire the software and do a full replacement. While it could be expensive and time consuming, this approach would allow you to implement a brand new, custom-built solution that will better meet your business needs. 

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

If your legacy systems are holding your business back, have become too expensive to maintain, or just aren’t working correctly, it’s probably time to modernize your tech. As we laid out, there are many options out there to approach such an undertaking, and depending on your business’s challenges, offer a solution that’s just right. 

And remember, there are experts out there who can walk with you on the modernization journey. At AscentCore, we’re driven to create innovative digital products that help our clients succeed. With years of experience and a world-class team, we can help your platforms keep up with your business. Reach out today and see how we can help. 

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