Yet, the legacy software is only one aspect of the problem. Sometimes, a far bigger issue is the mindset that comes with it. That is why proving a business case for software modernization is the first challenge to be faced by the initiating party. So, why modernize legacy systems? The following benefits prove that legacy-system modernization is a vital part of the overall business digitization.
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Two major arguments are typically used when talking about a software modernization initiative. Those are the time and cost involved. Indeed, a solution that took a team of developers years to implement cannot be re-created in a week, even if you hire twice as many developers to handle the task. Thus, in some cases software reengineering cost might exceed the initial investments. Besides the challenges, there are multiple risks to avoid. Some of them have been described by a group of Carnegie Mellon University researchers back in Therefore, successful software reengineering requires a solid modernization strategy and great attention to detail.
In this regard, we can share some of the best practices and approaches we have developed at AltexSoft. There are more aspects to assess when identifying the legacy. That is why you need to assess all systems in place to uncover the current and potential issues it can bring up in the near future. The assessment should be systematic and detailed: Study all aspects of your technology, from code and architecture to visual look and feel, taking into account your future business plans for product growth.
Select the modernization approach that would be the fastest to deliver value. Based on the assessment conducted at the first phase, choose the modernization approach that best fits your needs and will help you deliver results fast. Aside from the modernization approaches, consider existing products you can use instead.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel if there is an SaaS solution available at a fraction of cost.
Yet, if your system solves rather specific tasks or you want to be able to build more features on top of it, custom product development services might be right for you. In this case, adopting agile software development practices can help you speed up the process and deliver value fast. Legacy systems often fail to perform as needed due to their overly complex structure. When modernizing your system, less is more in terms of both architecture and functionality.
Start by implementing only the most important features. Consider a microservices architecture approach to make your product scalable. Additionally, make sure the newly released application will work well with the rest of the tools used in your business by default. If you plan to change any of the tools soon, consider several possible options and keep their requirements in mind when building your application.
Choose the technology stack to deliver optimal performance and user experience.
When reengineering your system, make sure you use a solid and future-ready technology stack. The choice of technologies should completely depend on the product specifics. Consult with your internal IT staff or address a professional tech consultancy. The right tech stack contributes to building a performant, reliable and efficient product. Adopt a solid quality assurance and testing process to deliver the best results. To avoid the same mistakes that made you reengineer your current solution, introduce or adopt best practices used by other companies a set of coding standards and internal processes.
Orderly documented and clean code make your software easy to understand, extend and maintain in the future. Even if you have a brand-new system running like a clockwork, you will still need your legacy software, just in case. Document and archive your solutions so you can easily access and refer to them when needed. Therefore, you need to support your legacy system for some time and plan for retiring your legacy system only when your new product is up and running. Working with the old systems for years, your employees might need some time and guidance to master the new software.
So be ready to invest in staff training for better performance and efficiency. Additionally, plan for regular system updates. If you fail to keep your product up to date, you will soon face another modernization challenge. Often dealing with legacy systems, we at AltexSoft have developed our own approach to choosing an appropriate way to modernize business-critical software. Namely, we take several steps first to assess the existing solution.
The first step in our plan is to identify and analyze the technology stack of the existing product. Thus, we know if the programming language or frameworks used are still relevant and supported by the vendors. If the product relies completely on outdated technologies, the chances are we would need to completely rewrite it in the process of modernization. In case the tech stack or some parts of it is still relevant, it is necessary to conduct an architecture audit. This will help you define the system elements which are functioning well and focus on the ones that need modernization.
Legacy software usually has an excessive codebase, requiring regular reviews and refactoring.
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The same principle applies to the UI and UX design. Performance testing aims at uncovering further potential issues with the legacy systems. Poor performance or major flaws can serve as a reason for a complete system reengineering as well as selective improvements. While considering the current business needs and requirements articulated by the client, we also focus on opportunities for the future growth. Thus, we help you make an informed decision by providing a well-grounded and unbiased opinion on the software modernization options. A well-chosen strategy is an efficient pattern for managing legacy system modernization process.
Here are the most popular legacy modernization strategies to consider while planning your technology transformation. Architecture-Driven Modernization ADM is a coordinated strategy of understanding and advancing existing software assets like its functionality, components, or requirements. The main advantage of ADM is that it approaches modernization from an analysis- and design-based perspective, rather than source-to-source migrations.
The main use of architecture-driven modernization comes in the forms of platform and language independency and interoperability. ADM will enable projects with aging software to become more agile. SABA is a high-level framework for planning organizational and technical issues during legacy system evolution and migration. The framework tackles various legacy system problems while also providing a means to analyze the future implications of software choices. Reverse Engineering Model is a strategy where the legacy applications are gradually migrated to the new environment, but legacy data migration is the last phase of the migration process.
To access legacy data, the applications in the new environment use a Reverse Gateway. Reverse Engineering Model is a good choice for high-cost, long projects that may be undermined by the technology pace. DevOps Contribution allows for speeding up the legacy modernization processes by swiftly deploying new software releases with a low degree of bug or errors while still complying with the target operational IT environment.
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The system evolves influenced by different development methods — from adding a line of code to complete reimplementation. There are two methods for dealing with the legacy problem that involve major structural changes: revolutionary big-bang and evolutionary band-aid. Yet, both have benefits as well as drawbacks. The revolutionary method revolves around developing and carrying out a legacy system replacement strategy. Its implementation requires shutting down the old system and building a new one from scratch.
The approach might be considered extreme, but sometimes it is better to retire the system completely to avoid some serious damage, such as security breaches, lost data, system downtime. Or it can be applied in a case when the original product cannot solve the existing business problems anymore, so it makes no sense to reengineer or port it to the new technologies. The evolutionary method presupposes a systematic, step-by-step software modernization process.
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It is usually less painful: It does not disrupt the major business processes and implies significantly lower risks for the company. Yet, it often turns into a band-aid method, where you focus on solving the problems instead of removing the factors that cause them. We need to keep up with that and the business use cases and requirements that may emerge.
It is no surprise that many companies stick to modernizing their platforms rather than replacing them. However, synchronizing the operations of new digital and legacy IT teams poses a number of challenges:. Nevertheless, there are many examples of successfully integrated mainframe systems. Liverpool Victoria is one of them. By separating the mainframe processes from the front end, the company introduced more user-friendly pages and made it easier to add features in the future. Both revolutionary and evolutionary methods serve as a basis for the approaches to legacy modernization that will be described further.
According to Gartner , continuous modernization of legacy systems will require companies spend three times more than they are planning to invest till the end of The efficiency of this investment heavily relies on the approach an enterprise chooses to follow. Below we suggest three modernization approaches to help you pick the one that can deal best with your current legacy challenges.
In addition, Cognizant presents an alternative classification of approaches primarily based on the level of new technology applied to a legacy system to modernize it. The latter is the case when a company decides to delay transformation and observe the industry while checking whether its systems are agile enough to manage the growth. This is one of the most popular approaches to application modernization and the easiest way to make sure your product will keep serving your needs for years to come. It presupposes the system migration typically re-hosting, using cloud solutions and some minor enhancements.
Yet, this method has a number of limitations. Namely, the core business logic and architecture mostly remain unchanged, as this type of changes require a more invasive approach.
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This might be architecture optimization or code refactoring, UX updates or performance optimization without significant changes in product business logic. As soon as the product is updated, you can add more features on top of it. These might be third-party integrations or custom-built modules. While the former presupposes a few minor additions, the latter offers comparatively big returns. Case Study: AltexSoft helps Merlot Aero advance airline management by enhancing the legacy system and building up new features for its transportation SaaS product.
Complete Software Reengineering. Considered the most extreme approach, features extraction relies on your business strategy and growth outlook. This means, in order to reengineer the product, you need to identify the features that are still crucial to your business and the ones that are no longer used or required.
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