While legacy systems often manage to deliver well beyond their lifecycle, how they go about it might generate sizable overhead for companies. The maintenance of legacy products alone is costly and almost always unnecessary when you consider the alternative. Migrating from legacy code to technologies with ongoing support ensures scalability, security, and availability for years ahead.
What Is Legacy Code?
Legacy code or system is a platform, application, technology, or computer system no longer officially supported by the company or developer that created it. That lack of support is a common catalyst behind integration issues, performance bottlenecks, scalability limitations, and many more.
Legacy system is usually key element of an organization. Still, they pose a dilemma for business owners—they induce severe drawbacks, but at the same time, the fear of losing operational fluidity forces companies to stay with their outdated technology stack.
Moreover, implementation costs for the now-old infrastructure was probably a significant investment; thus, it’s difficult for business owners to accept the need to make another such expenditure. This is compounded by the tangible and satisfactory results the legacy systems delivered effortlessly in the past.
An administration panel built with an old, unsupported framework that lacks many integration options and features. While the panel performed well a few years back, meeting current customer and user demands is no longer possible. Expanding the panel with additional modules requires developers to gradually incorporate a new framework until the full transition is complete.
What’s Wrong with Legacy Code?
First, it prevents your company from evolving and impairs operational efficiency. Legacy products, whether we’re talking about an application or a whole system, consume more resources at the expense of growth and stability.
The longer the legacy product is up, the harder it is to eventually make the transition to new technology. Instead of benefiting from cost efficiency and improved performance that upgraded software could otherwise bring, most of the available resources have to be channeled into keeping the legacy product operational. Also, ensuring the system and integrations are standardized across the whole infrastructure becomes increasingly difficult with legacy code.
Further, when the lifecycle of a software product is complete and it’s no longer supported, any remaining vulnerabilities won’t be patched, giving hackers easy access to the system. Data breaches can cause significant damage to company reputation and incur fines and liability expenses.
Why Can’t I Override an Issue and Leave My Stack Alone?
You can. Now let me explain why you shouldn’t.
Having a sufficient talent pool to maintain legacy technology is a challenge. Legacy products frequently use obsolete programming languages or development approaches which require specialist skills.
You can deal with legacy code by altering it, finding ways around problems, which in turn will generate more and more lines of code—code that eventually is almost impossible to understand and definitely difficult to debug for developers.
Maintaining legacy code is far less efficient than transitioning to updated technologies. Operating on legacy code requires a lot of workload to remove those excessive lines of code, update extensions, and optimize the architecture.
The legacy product might struggle to handle multiple user requests, resulting in downtime or slow performance. Scaling legacy technologies is often too expensive and resource consuming than migrating to new systems. And in the end, legacy systems can’t be scaled endlessly to address the growing I/O bottleneck, the time for migration will still eventually come. By then, however, the workload necessary will be much bigger, and as a result, the transition much more expensive and time-consuming.
For some companies, there is also the question of retaining the data after migrating to new technology or not disrupting the business for the time required to migrate. While these concerns aren’t unfounded, migration done with care and scrutiny helps to perform a smooth transition with no data loss and as minimum a business disruption as possible.
Migrating, But How?
Although beneficial in the long run, migration to new technology isn’t easy. The challenges are many, encompassing diverse areas, which depend on the scope of the workload and the state of the legacy product to be migrated.
One of the bigger challenges is inherited ownership. In-house developer teams might not be equipped with the knowledge or documentation pertaining to the legacy system, hence have trouble to manage the work to be done. Without initial owners, there’s no one to verify the changes introduced by the developers.
Disordered legacy migration can significantly extend project timelines, producing disruptions, delays, and more and more work to continue migration without stopping current business cycles.
Migration Needs Vast Developer Experience
Migration should be performed by experienced developers with a proven record of successful completion of similar work.
Seasoned developers will perform an in-depth analysis of the existing legacy code, going over it line by line, to ensure nothing gets lost in the transition. As the migration goes forward, automated and manual tests should be done to check the behavior of the system.
Migration might take some time; however, after the transition, businesses can expect a variety of improvements across multiple areas, i.e., performance increase, code optimization, or better operational efficiency.
More benefits of migration done with an experienced team of developers include:
Painless and time-effective execution
More business-oriented features
Fixed security issues and vulnerabilities
Better integration options with other systems and platforms
Scalability and flexibility
Cheaper maintenance and licensing
Stability and availability
Legacy products can be a source of many headaches. Excessive costs, drops in performance, limited features, are just three of the numerous issues caused by outdated and unsupported software. For many businesses, IT systems are the core of operations, and to meet the growing business demand and continue to offer better solutions than the competition, companies should seek to migrate from legacy products to more efficient, result-oriented, cost-effective technologies that, in time, will bring significant ROI.