How to Support Old Systems in a Modern Business

By Ashutosh Jha → Last Updated on Sunday, March 17, 2019
Every year, US businesses lose $1.8 billion in productivity. The culprit? Outdated technology.

There are many reasons organizations hang on to outdated technology year after year. Some business owners think they’re saving money by using outdated technology. Others worry about the price tag of newer solutions.

How to Support Old Systems in a Modern Business
Some people may want to wait and see how effective newer technologies are. Many business owners are concerned with the challenges of migrating their legacy systems.

There comes a point, though, when you have to upgrade your technology. If your business is facing a technological overhaul, this guide is for you. You’ll discover how you can successfully integrate your old systems and software.

Defining Legacy Systems

Before you think about how to support legacy computing, you need a clear definition. What is a legacy system anyway?

Generally speaking, any older system can be a "legacy" system. The term encompasses all aspects of computing, from network architecture to software.

These are often custom configurations your business adapted to meet your specific needs. You may have invested a fair amount in these systems. They may store a lot of important data or they may support crucial functions for the business.

Legacy systems are often large and cumbersome. As they age, they may become slower, and building in new functionality is difficult. In short, they don’t offer the flexibility you can find with newer technology.

This is part of the reason upgrading is so difficult. You can’t just switch these systems off and call it a day. You may actually want to keep them operational.

Why Keep a Legacy System?

There are many reasons a business might decide to keep a legacy system. In some cases, they’re adapted to your unique needs. If the system is still supporting your business needs, there may not be a good argument for changing it.

The most common reason to keep legacy systems running is cost. You may not have the capital to overhaul everything. Many legacy systems are also complex, making them challenging to upgrade or replace.

Sunk costs are another reason you might resist replacing a legacy system. You invested in not only the system, but the training and support so your staff can use it. Replacing it will mean more training and support costs.

The Challenges of Legacy Computing in Modern Businesses

There are good reasons for keeping legacy systems up and running, but they pose problems as time goes on. You may encounter any of these challenges:
  • The vendor no longer offers service support
  • The system relies on old hardware, which needs more maintenance or is difficult to repair
  • Adding new functionality is next to impossible
  • Any innovation may cause an unintended cascade of issues
Even though the system still meets your needs, you may want to add new functionality to it. Since you can’t, you adopt a new solution, but this can cause software integration issues.

For example, you may want to upgrade legacy architecture’s security. Unfortunately, it doesn’t integrate well with the new security features you choose.

This can cause a loss of functionality in the network. Your staff may need to develop workarounds to keep things moving.

Incorporating Legacy Systems in Your Digital Strategy

Your legacy code or software causes challenges for you, but you have good reasons for keeping it. What do you do?

The first thing to do is realize digital transformation in a business isn’t all-or-nothing. You don’t need to replace everything at the same time. If an older system is still fulfilling your needs, you can leave it in place for the time being.

When you decide to keep legacy software or architecture, build it into your strategy. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • How old is the system, and how long do you believe it will keep functioning?
  • How long will it be before your business outstrips the system’s capacity?
  • What steps, if any, can you take to extend the system’s lifespan?
Your answers should help you create a timeline for replacing the legacy system. Having a plan in place will allow you to easily replace the system when the time comes.

If you plan to upgrade other parts of your digital infrastructure, think about how to adapt legacy systems. This will help you find the right solutions and reduce issues with integration.

How Old Systems Can Adapt to New Technology

You've started upgrading your infrastructure. Now you need to consider how to integrate new solutions with older systems. There are a few different options for easing integration.

One solution is to adopt service layers. The layers act as “middleware,” translating between your legacy system and the new application. This can modernize the older system by adding functionality or reducing the strain on it.

Another option is data access layers, or DAL. This type of layer simplifies access to data in legacy systems. DAL is actually quite common in modern systems, since it can free up resources.

Application program interfaces are another common way to adapt old systems. The API allows you to interact with the functions of the old system in ways that were impossible before. This creates flexibility and can even add functionality.

APIs themselves are part of infrastructure built around microservices. Unlike yesteryear's monolithic system, microservices provide more flexibility. They let you react to changing demands faster.

Many businesses are using microservices as the backbone of their IT infrastructure. You can find out more about the advantages of this approach.

Merge Past and Present Seamlessly

Legacy systems pose many challenges in today's digital business environment. There’s still no reason you have to start from scratch. There are ways to support and integrate your older systems, even as you upgrade and modernize.

If you’re looking for more great advice about technology in your business, you’re in the right place. Our informative articles provide the insights you need to use technology more effectively in your business.

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Ashutosh Jha

Ashutosh Jha is a professional blogger, Blog and IT Consultant. He writes about Blogging, SEO, Making Money, Internet Marketing and Web Design.
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