Migrating is a process that involves lots of challenges, but it can help you adapt to new technologies and unlock efficiency and innovation. In this article, you will discover why the migration of your legacy software is vital for your business.
Although technology and business are constantly evolving, custom software can become obsolete over time as well. Whether it does or not, it could be related to a wide variety of reasons, such as changes in the economy, market conditions, laws, management, and compliance, among others.
No matter which one is affecting your business or company, the good news is that there are some options to make your legacy software adapt to any new context, even without entirely getting rid of the software and starting from scratch. This is where the migration concept begins to gain strength. It refers to the process of transitioning outdated software to modern technologies, which helps businesses to unlock new opportunities and stay competitive.
Of course, there are some implications to consider before embarking on that project. Let’s start from the beginning and define what legacy software is.
WHAT IS A LEGACY SOFTWARE?
We can define ‘legacy’ as any old or outdated software that continues to be used by an organization because it still performs the functions it was initially intended to do. They usually were built with old-fashioned programming languages and are used to run critical business operations.
Even if your software meets the definition above, it does not necessarily mean that you need to consider migrating it, at least not initially. Maybe the value it adds to your company reaches your business expectations without too many issues, so there is no need to invest time and money on that project. You might now be wondering…
WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER MIGRATING?
Here are some common indicators that you should pay attention to in order to determine if you need to consider migrating your legacy systems:
- Existing systems are limited to extend. This includes any of these:
- They are difficult to adapt to new business rules/changes
- It is not possible to scale them
- Performance is poor and cannot be improved
- User experience cannot be improved
- They are heavily patched
- Their technology does not offer any more support
- Its maintenance became too expensive.
- They are not efficient
Based on these indicators, if your system belongs to the ‘legacy’ category but you have not evaluated any migration yet, then you should be aware of some risks you will most likely face by keeping that legacy system. Let’s take a look at them.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN RISKS OF NOT MIGRATING?
- Compatibility issues. Since it may use outdated technologies, the legacy system can become incompatible with new systems or technologies that are also essential to the business. As a result, departments using legacy systems may not benefit from all the features offered by new systems.
- Security issues. The lack of support, updates, or maintenance, as well as using old security protocols and standards lead to vulnerabilities or even security leaks. This can also make meeting regulatory compliance even more difficult.
- Data isolation. Legacy systems are not usually built to be integrated with newer systems, isolating data from other systems.
- Decrease performance and productivity. Legacy systems tend to become slower over time as technology continues evolving. This causes an immediate impact on the performance, efficiency, and productivity by decreasing those indicators.
- Maintenance costs and competitiveness. Maintaining a legacy system means investing money in something that will need to be replaced sooner than later. This
can put your business at a disadvantage relative to competitors, ultimately stopping you from reaching your full potential.
So, you have started to think about legacy systems, haven’t you? Let me tell you that the process of migrating them also involves some challenges that need to be addressed to properly succeed.These challenges are diverse and depend on factors such as the scope of the migration itself or the state and nature of the legacy system that needs to be updated.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
- Existing systems are usually critical to day-to-day operations, so their migration must be carefully assessed and planned to minimize potential risks.
- It involves investing a quantity of resources, which means time and money. It is usually costly and time consuming and requires all parties to be involved at some point.
- The new system needs to not only meet the business needs but also gain user adoption. Considering user experience as part of the process is a must.
- Data protection. All data must be migrated properly to avoid data losses. Involved parties must make sure all data can be extracted securely, ensure compatibility between old and new formats, and take the time to test and review the data.
- If the legacy system is built with an obsolete programming language or technology, it might be difficult to find qualified professionals to lead the migration.
- The process can involve unplanned obstacles, for example, understanding the nature of the system as it was originally coded. This especially occurs when there is no documentation, when the quality of the code is poor, or when nobody is able to provide information about it.
- If not done in the right way, it can end up not completing the entire migration which could cause a worse consequence — adding more systems that will need to coexist and be maintained, as well as data spread across multiple sources.
Fortunately, and despite all the challenges involved, the good news is that legacy applications can be perfectly transferred to modern platforms, which have the necessary resources to improve efficiency and enhance user experience. In case you decide to start this journey, you should consider this set of good practices before writing any single line of code:
GOOD PRACTICES FOR SOFTWARE MIGRATION
- Conduct a thorough analysis of existing applications.
- Define the scope of the migration.
- Determine what information will be transferred to the new platform.
- Choose the right migration strategy and technology.
- Involve all parties (business, IT teams, end users, etc.).
- Develop a comprehensive testing plan.
ALL IN ALL
Given that digital modernization is a concern that should be included in the agenda of any company nowadays, it has become mandatory to assess your software inventory at some point and check its capabilities before it is too late.
In that context, migrating your legacy software applications can help your business to not only improve customer experience but also to adapt to new technologies and tackle industry challenges. The process involves lots of challenges, yes, but there are different strategies that make it possible for diverse business contexts. This is definitely a great chance to unlock new opportunities for enhanced efficiency and innovation!
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