What is a legacy system, and why is it still around?

March 10, 2020

Legacy systems are crucial for organizations. Their impact, however, is somewhat negative. How so? Since legacy systems were created for a specific and immediate use back in the days, they are now holding many companies back, being unable to adapt to today’s business environment. Yet, most companies we speak with still rely on on-premises solutions to run their business. So what exactly is a legacy system, and why is it still around?

What is a legacy system?

The definition of a legacy system is an obsolete computer system, programming language, software application, process, or technology that is no longer can be maintained, replaced, or easily updated.

It does not mean that the legacy system is unusable. Many organizations or companies still find these systems essential to their daily work. It depends upon you to either upgrade or replaces it.

When evaluating your legacy tools, you need to logically identify issues with your existing solution that affecting your business.

Here are five common issues to consider

two guys analyzing data on the monitor

Does not run on modern hardware

Some legacy tools can’t work well with more modern computers, so you are stuck managing the old system that sometimes way underperformed. Having to maintain old hardware and operating system can be pricey. Yes, virtualization and emulation solutions do exist, but it comes with a cost.

Lack of sufficient skillsets to maintain

As time passes, people with knowledge about how to manage or enhance the application moves on. Getting someone that can work with an old system can be challenging. You need to re-train your staff on how the legacy system works, which can be increasing your company operating costs. A lot of time and effort is required just to keep the system operational, let alone enhance it.

Compatibility and security vulnerability

Obsolete technology often not plays well with others, and it is hard to integrate or stay compatible with modern computers. Security breaches are also the main concern with the older system. A lack of security in your legacy hardware and other systems poses a significant vulnerability that difficult to solve.

Amount of data and users limitation

The amount of data and users continuously increases as your company grows each day. Your legacy application may not have the capacity to store the amount of information you have captured over time. Furthermore, it also may not be efficient enough to handle new users that need access.

Poor user interface

How we interact with software has changed drastically. Your legacy system may not be able to meet the expectation of the user experience and usability of the software. Poor user experience can reduce productivity, although the core tools behind the interface are great and working correctly.

If any of these problems exist with your company’s legacy software, it’s probably time to finding a way to upgrade or replace the system.

Why is legacy software still around?

Before you start to replace or to upgrade your legacy system, take a step back, and understand the positive impact that your legacy system can have. Knowing the contribution legacy system makes so that when you want to replace the system, the new solution must deliver the same or more enhanced solution as the old one.

Here are five reasons why the legacy system still used in some companies

man at desk working on laptop

Work well enough

Many legacy systems are doing their job just fine. The proverb “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applied even when you need to run your legacy application on a mainframe instead of cloud computing.

Converting existing legacy data to a new system isn’t easy

The way data is stored and retrieved is changing. An older system may have a different algorithm, and some are no longer common. To convert all of the data into an entirely different form to be stored in a modern computing system are quite challenging on the internal IT team.

Recertifying and revalidating requires considerable effort and cost

In some industries, software that can impact safety must be validated and certified for compliance. This software is critical to the company or customer. Recertifying and validating the new system may take a long time and a high cost.

Switching the tool is too disruptive to the organization

The downtime, while transitioning to new software, is considered an escalating cost to pay because of a decrease in productivity when the new software is deployed and learned.

The cost of replacing is higher than the benefits of a new system

There is monetary value in replacing something old with something new. The reduction in cost and increase in business should be significant than the total cost of switching.

Moving forward with legacy systems

Maintaining or upgrading legacy systems is one of the biggest challenges facing CIOs. The good news is, replacing a legacy system is more straightforward than creating a new solution from scratch. Your organization already knows what does and doesn’t work.

two tech women at computer

Here are some of our suggestions on how to deal with your legacy systems

  • Extensive and sophisticated systems are hard to execute correctly. Don’t try to push it too far.
  •  Capture the business process in the current system and reuse them.
  •  Develop a new system that leverages the old system functionality and meet new business goals.
  •  Build a new system on a flexible infrastructure so that you can enhance and replace them with less effort when the current system became a legacy system.
  •  Understand the overall ecosystem that the new solution system interacts with.
  •  Some business can solve their problem with SaaS, but for some other business, SaaS may deliver less functionality than the legacy system.
  •  Evolve enhancements or replacements that focus on your business outcomes.
  •  Find the right development partner that understands your concern and technology.

By now, you should already understand what a legacy system is, why it is still in use, and how to moving forward. Nowadays, technology evolves quickly, and as your system becomes outdated, you may eventually lose your competitive edge. That’s why you should analyze your IT infrastructure carefully and act fast if it needs any improvement. Work with experts to see what is really under the hood and then make an informed decision on how to get increased value for your organization.

Curious how we could help your organization to evaluate or switch your legacy system? Schedule a meeting with us today for a free consultation.

AXO Technologies Sdn Bhd (1276407-U) is an innovative and thoughtful IT consulting firm based in Selangor, Malaysia. We help organizations solve their IT challenges by leveraging technology in their business process.

With our certified professional team, we strive to provide a better understanding and relationship with our customers.
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