Legacy Systems and Software Migration
New life for entrenched systems
Legacy systems refer to out-dated computer software, technologies, programs or applications that continue to be used by organisations, despite the availability of newer and improved technology that can perform business tasks more efficiently.
Typically, legacy systems become “entrenched” in organisations for a number of reasons:
- If it works, don’t fix it mentality: Legacy systems may work satisfactorily and there may be no apparent reason for replacing the software other than slow performance or cumbersome processes. However, legacy systems suffer from a “snowball” effect – as new software is introduced in business, legacy systems become increasingly unable to integrate and talk to other software, causing break-downs and drops in productivity.
- Large historic investment costs: The costs of replacing large and complex legacy systems may deter organisations from improving the original software. However, legacy systems can be redeveloped gradually causing minimum disruption to normal business activities and budgets.
- Resistance to change: Legacy systems may generate a dedicated following with users who refuse to adopt an alternative piece of software, even if it will improve their own performance.
The biggest problem with legacy systems is the expectation that they can be replaced easily when it becomes absolutely critical. But finding, designing, developing and implementing a replacement for a legacy system is a time-consuming exercise that requires structured planning and execution. Leaving things to the last minute will cost organisations time and money from being unable to effectively meet ever-changing customer demands.
Modernising Legacy Software
There are multiple approaches to modernising legacy systems ranging from ground-up redevelopment to gradual improvement:
- Frontware: Sometimes using “web wrappers”, “screen scrapers”, terminal access or direct database connections, frontware typically extends the accessibility of legacy systems by introducing web access capability. Essentially, frontware provides an additional graphical user interface to the system without changing the underlying platform.
- Legacy integration: This technique involves building invokable Application Programming Interfaces (Wikipedia: API) around the legacy system allowing it to integrate with other applications without fundamentally changing it.
- Enterprise Application Integration: APIs are often used to support Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) frameworks that act as middleware between multiple applications allowing legacy systems to communicate with other software.
- Packaged software solutions: Legacy systems can be replaced with modern, off-the-shelf software solutions provided by a variety of ERP vendors, the likes of SAP, PeopleSoft or Oracle. However, the acquired solutions might require customization to fit existing business processes and the changeover process may sometimes come out much more expensive than a custom software solution.
- Bespoke software solutions: Similar to packaged solutions, bespoke software offers a modern alternative to legacy systems. However, bespoke solutions are developed with a specific business in mind and do not require customisation during software implementation. Depending on the complexity of the project, bespoke software may be cheaper or more expensive than packaged solutions, but may have closer business-suitability and lower long-term licensing costs.
Legacy Systems & You
You should consider rewiring or even redesigning your legacy systems, if:
- You wish to upgrade your IT infrastructure, but the legacy system is a major barrier to change
- You need to extend the system by introducing additional functionality and productivity tools
- Your current solution is no longer supported by the original vendor
- You experience slow software performance and the system could be improved
- Your competitors are able to perform tasks more efficiently with their systems
- Your legacy system is not able to effectively meet changing customer demands
- Your system is unable to integrate with other commonly used software, resulting in duplication of work or resorting to manual processing
- Your system is dependent on archaic platforms or technologies that are no longer suitable for your business
- Your system cannot be accessed by all stakeholders who must have access to the system
- You wish to retain your legacy system, but want to migrate the back-end database to a more robust platform
Canary's Approach to Legacy Systems
Canary offers a range of solutions that will improve your legacy systems. Our team can design and develop a scalable solution to address your business needs in a cost-appropriate manner. Contact us to see what we can help improve the legacy systems at your organisation.