Everything Around Your Legacy Software Has Changed: What Can You Do?

Your legacy software was the perfect solution at one point.  After all, it paved the way for all of the standards that followed.  It might not have the advancements or more efficient options of newer systems, but it can still get the job done, right?  Maybe. But what if you’ve continued updating the products around it?

One of the most common problems with legacy systems is that they lose compatibility with other, more current software systems.  The further your system falls behind the latest upgrade cycle, the more products and services will emerge that hadn’t even been dreamed of when you initially purchased the legacy software.  This means, inevitably, you won’t have the APIs you need to interface with those systems.  It becomes an apples-and-oranges situation.

Lack of interoperability hamstrings you in many ways:

  • The legacy system can’t synchronize with newer systems.  This leads to a separate, manual update process for any data shared by the systems (doubling your workload).
  • Old databases will need custom workarounds to pass their information into current, relevant systems.
  • It’s harder to justify legacy software modernization for other ancillary systems in your stack until the core system is up to date.
  • It may not be compatible with the latest security features, which puts your organization at risk.
  • Vendors for any newer software put no effort into outside support for your legacy system’s needs.  In other words, you’ve got to handle it all yourself.

So what can you do?  If everything around your legacy software has changed, you can:

Simplify Your Stack

Complex architecture is trouble enough with a legacy software system. It makes matters worse when you also rely upon a wide array of integrated products that all need regular upgrades. Too many products will make the legacy system modernization process overwhelming.

Look for opportunities to unify and cut away from the architecture of your software stack.  Can any of the constituent systems take on more responsibilities? The fewer integrations you need, the fewer issues outdated software can create.

Cherry Pick Products For Legacy Software Support

It’s sometimes possible to prolong the life of a legacy system by pairing it up only with products from vendors that still offer support for it—at least for now.  This won’t protect you from future legacy system issues, but it will give you time to evaluate newer options and develop a gradual plan/schedule for legacy system modernization.

Bite the Bullet and Upgrade

You can’t stave off modernization forever.  Eventually, the costs, inconveniences, and risks of the older system will make it necessary to get on board the next upgrade cycle.  This will mean time and effort for implementation, including retraining (which will be more of an issue the longer the legacy system has been ingrained in your organization).  

Some resistance from within is natural, but it will be outweighed by the advantages the organization will see in the long run.

Convert to SaaS

Obsolescence is a more significant problem for on-premise, locally installed systems of earlier technology generations.  SaaS is the direction that current technology has taken because it allows you to:

  • Stay Current: Cloud-based systems update continuously without your intervention.
  • Pay-as-you-Go: There’s no rolling cycle of massive upgrade costs to keep up with.
  • Save Your Budget: SaaS is cost-effective.  It gives you the functions you need at a fraction of the organizational costs of on-premise software.
  • Pass Maintenance Off to the Vendor: Since the system is housed and maintained by the service provider, you can wash your hands of the routine time (and money) required to maintain an in-house system.

For some systems, you may even have the choice to opt for either a traditional model or a SaaS model, as Microsoft does with Office 365.  The SaaS option is generally worth it, if available. No other legacy modernization techniques can future-proof you to the same extent.