From Desktop to the Web — Legacy System Migration, Modernization or Replacement?
In our experience, most companies that have been on the market for a few years are using outdated software in one or more areas of their business. These so-called legacy systems are not only annoying for users used to state-of-the-art applications, but they also reduce efficiency and increase system failures and security vulnerabilities. The good news is that you don’t have to stay stuck with an outdated system. There are numerous options for legacy system replacement and modernization that will make your life easier and open up growth- and scaling opportunities for your business.
Information and topics overview
What is a legacy system?
Technologies evolve rapidly and so do our behavior and preferences. Some (if not most) of the devices and systems that worked 10 years ago are today considered unfunctional, obsolete and outdated. When it comes to our everyday life, it’s easy to buy a new laptop or phone every now and then and to move on with our life. But what if it’s a system that your entire business is built on and switching it or not using it anymore is not an option? In that case, you’re dealing with a legacy application or system.
“Legacy application or system is an information system that may be based on outdated technologies, but is critical to day-to-day operations.”Gartner Glossary
Problems & Challenges
Even in the digital business era, legacy applications are a reality for many companies – from small and medium-sized businesses to enterprises. Becoming more and more slow with time, possibly causing failures and security breaches, they tremendously affect your company’s productivity and efficiency. Here are some of the challenges that companies with an outdated tech stack are facing.
Increasing operational and maintenance costs
Lack of skilled developers (to run older systems)
Technical debt and no clear separation between frontend, backend and database code
Lack of support and updates & outdated documentation
Bad performance and security vulnerabilities
Inability to compete and stay relevant in the market
Experiencing one or more of these problems?
It’s a clear sign that an outdated system is holding back your busines & that you should consider legacy modernization.
Legacy system modernization
Even if they may well satisfy their core purpose at some point, legacy systems will inevitably become incompatible with more recent systems and platforms that could turn out to be crucial for your business. Therefore, they cannot be a permanent and sustainable business solution. Legacy systems modernization is not an easy step, but choosing the right partner and right approach will make the transition as smooth and frictionless as possible.
Benefits and advantages
Once you decide to invest time, money and effort into legacy modernization, these are some of the benefits and improvements in your daily business you can expect.
Cost reduction (in the long run)
Improved compliance & security
Enhanced performance and reliability
Happier clients and employees
Competitive advantage and new business opportunities (SaaS)
A stable, future-proof business
Major risks and fears – from a company perspective
Although the benefits of a legacy transformation are numerous, it is still very hard for companies to take the plunge and finally do it. These are their two main concerns.
Your developers are spending all their time on keeping the existing system up and running while juggling between fixing the system failures and addressing users’ complaints. How on earth should they find time to simultaneously develop a new system and familiarize themselves with the latest tools and technologies? Not to mention the difficulty and costs of hiring and training an extra team of developers to deal just with replacing your legacy system. That could take years and cost you a fortune.
Existing users and running processes
Outdated documentation in combination with solely fixing and patching an old system for years and years can often result in a spaghetti code that nobody dares to touch anymore. It’s impossible to predict what could happen and having a total system failure is a risk that no one wants to take. Adding existing users / customers to the equation makes the idea of modernizing or replacing a running system seem even more impossible. It’s almost like doing an open heart surgery, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Hiring an external company with expertise in legacy modernization and replacement will bring your system to the next level in a fraction of time and money (compared to how much it would normally take you to do it on your own). Incrementally shifting users, while developing the new and running the old platform parallelly is something we have successfully done many times.
Get to know us
We have know-how, experts, technologies, methodologies and processes in place that make this transition as smooth and painless as possible.
Methods and strategies for technology modernization
Legacy systems are common business bottlenecks and in order to stay ahead, companies are exploring adaptation possibilities and increasingly investing into legacy modernization. Here are the 3 most common approaches.
Rehosting or replatforming the application to other infrastructure (physical, virtual, cloud) or platform with making only minimal or no changes to the code. Most commonly used for database migration and smaller UX updates, while core functionalities and architecture remain unchanged.
By refactoring, rearchitecting or rebuilding the code, the application features are being extended and functionally improved. This approach is mainly used when technology stack is relatively up-to-date but there is a need for some third-party integrations or custom-built modules.
As the most extreme approach, legacy replacement means completely eliminating the application and developing a new one from scratch. The new system matches the previous version in terms of functionality, but considers new business requirements, offers additional features, improved performance, great UX/UI and scalable architecture.
How we are doing it
Although it’s one of the most dreaded processes in the IT industry, legacy modernization and replacement is something that we have successfully done many times already. Starting by analyzing the status quo, we develop a custom modernization strategy that will transform your on-premise legacy system into the latest state-of-the-art cloud / web-based technology.
By taking into account every single aspect of legacy system transformation, our approach is divided into 3 phases.
After a detailed discussion of your business challenges and needs, our experts suggest the possible solution for the transformation of your application and make a rough estimation of needed resources.
Our UX experts evaluate the current flows and see what features should be an integral part of the new system and which you can leave out or functionally adapt. There is no point in implementing things that didn’t work in the old version, so this is a great opportunity to get rid of obsolete features and to get a better final product. Our developers also assess the existing source code and the environment in which the application is located. Then we mutually decide which modernization strategy or method best suits your needs.
Based on the agreed strategy and approach, the next phase includes the technical implementation of the proposed solution. Depending on the chosen solution, this sometimes means replacing the code piece by piece in the running system and sometimes parallelly developing a new platform and bringing users to it iteratively. Either way, having an experienced and excellently coordinated team that does these things routinely is a key to successful legacy modernization.
Interview with Rene Berger, our principal software engineer — tips for legacy replacement.
Some of the legacy systems that we successfully modernized, migrated and/or replaced
We implemented new web technologies and turned the previously flash-based online image editing platform into a full-fledged and modern design tool.
We replaced our client’s legacy desktop client with a modern and user-friendly web-based application built on the latest tech stack.
MVP Upgrade and UX redesign for a Medtech company
We developed a modern web platform and mobile app for the digital recording and remote monitoring of patients (undergoing cancer treatment).
On a final note
Advantages and benefits of legacy application modernization are endless. Latest tech stack and moving from an on-premise to cloud-based infrastructure will not only keep your business relevant and competitive in this constantly evolving digital business landscape, but also enable your further growth, scalability and additional business models (SaaS). As a full-service software and web development company, we have helped many companies to transform their businesses through legacy modernization. Contact us to discuss the strategy for your company’s legacy system replacement.