Legacy applications, no matter the comfort they provide, start aging, and turning redundant over a while. These redundancies gradually affect user experience, organizational productivity, and overall business operations. As a result, the business suffers, and the whole purpose of employing technology is lost. But the good thing is, companies do not have live with the challenges of legacy applications.
As a solution, legacy application modernization and migration involve modernizing and upgrading the company’s age-old systems. It includes enhancing or modifying existing workflows, introducing newer functionalities, improving the organization’s overall efficiency by aligning the systems with the growing and dynamic business needs, and matching them with modern competencies.
As one of the most critical steps towards achieving complete digital transformation, legacy application migration and modernization involves a range of complexities. You cannot modernize and migrate conventional systems at once, owing to years of operational dependence on them, user familiarity, and from the viewpoint of retaining the loads of vital business data that they’ve produced all along.
Hence, legacy application modernization and migration constitutes a challenging, intricate, and gradual process. It requires meticulous planning, vision, and a consideration of all the above factors to help companies progress steadily and incrementally towards the goal of digital transformation.
We’ve identified around 12 challenges that most companies encounter while modernizing and migrating their legacy applications. As a company looking forward to achieving digital transformation, being aware of these challenges will help you prepare for them, and have productive discussions with your prospective legacy application modernization and migration service provider.
The challenges involved in modernizing and migrating legacy applications comprise a range of general (workforce, approach-related) and technical concerns. You must make sure you discuss them with your prospective vendor and get comprehensive and convincing answers before you make a move.
Legacy applications constitute a comfort zone for many, especially the older users that have been using them for the past 15-20 years. Such users are hesitant to adapt to newer technologies as they look at them as a threat to their hard-earned, and age-old skills, with which they’ve been running the business.
But it isn’t always the employees that show reluctance. Sometimes, decision-makers too aren’t very keen on upgrading and migrating to newer technologies. They see them as a disruption to conventional work processes that remain deeply rooted in the work culture and approach of the company.
One of the most effective ways to change such a short-sighted approach is to emphasize on the benefits of modernizing legacy applications, and show them the larger picture comprising business expansion, increased user satisfaction, and sustenance amidst the dynamic business environment.
Another significant challenge includes selecting the right legacy modernization approach. Often, managers find themselves in a tricky situation, as there isn’t one way of modernizing legacy systems, and also, the modernization process has its pros and cons.
Here, the key is to compare a number of approaches based on critical parameters such as the complexity level of the system, the number of resources and skills available, the financial position of the organization, and the objectives that drive the decision to modernize legacy systems.
The mainframe infrastructure comprises several intricate components. While understanding these technologies is challenging, deciphering their interdependence isn’t a straightforward task either. In such a situation, you need a comprehensive legacy application modernization partner with the necessary resources, knowledge, and understanding of legacy applications.
Legacy applications are old. Some of them have been in the system for decades and developed with the most basic technologies available back then. People who developed them are either unavailable to explain things, or have retired from the system long ago.
Such applications form a significant challenge for the modern-day developers, as they’ve never seen these technologies before. Hence, decoding them becomes difficult for the existing new-age developers and a time-consuming task for them.
While modern applications work with each browser, device, and platform, legacy applications are comparatively rigid and work only within their native environment.
Most of them have a closed and inflexible architecture that renders the applications incompatible with the most commonly used APIs and web and mobile protocols.
Given these legacy barriers, you, along with your legacy application modernization service provider must identify strategies, discuss ways to overcome these challenges, and set the ball rolling.
Working on a legacy modernization project is like balancing on a rope. On the one hand, you deal with several technical and legacy challenges, and on the other, you’ve got financial constraints that often compel you to think twice thrice before you make a decision. Besides, the inability to determine the project scope in the initial stages and budget inaccuracies can result in excess and unforeseen costs.
Practically, it isn’t always possible to stay within the exact budget figure. Hence, your budget must accommodate extra and unforeseen costs that you may incur while overcoming technological challenges, onboarding newer technologies, scaling the workforce, etc.
An in-depth discussion with your service provider can give you clarity on the budget part. These companies have resources that help you determine the project scope and prepare approximate estimates to enable you to propose a near to accurate budget to your management.
Investing in licensed software development, and testing frameworks is one way of expediting the modernization process. However, the investments still keep costs a substantial concern.
One of the several peculiarities of legacy applications is that they were developed and deployed with on-premise infrastructure. However, as companies today have cloud, they look forward to leveraging cloud computing benefits such as cost-efficiency, flexibility, security, availability, and accessibility.
Migrating to cloud demands leaving behind the existing hardware, software, and servers. The most critical challenge here is to find ways that allow and facilitate the seamless integration of on-premise and cloud infrastructure, and which is where technological capabilities step in.
Legacy applications are massive, intricate, and rigid. Hence, understanding them, and further modernizing them, without hampering the ongoing business operations, requires time, and constitutes another critical challenge for developers. But given that technology is dynamic and business needs also keep evolving with time, it becomes difficult for the experts to keep up with these changes.
Switching methodologies proves useful here. For instance, switching from a waterfall methodology to an agile one proves useful. Although yes, the latter requires them to make changes to the existing environment, and deploy cross-functional teams for better results, and response to external changes.
Many legacy applications use elements that were then aligned with the operational needs of the business, and therefore not necessarily user-friendly.
Modern-day businesses and developers may find such elements a bit unusual, as we are more used to talking about user-friendly applications and working towards them.
These factors demand an extra workaround, in the form of revising the architecture of the existing applications to deliver user convenience, and at the same time, business efficiency as well.
A lot of migration tools available across the market focus on data transformation or code conversions. While you may be okay with the technical aspects, the utility of such tools and technologies when it comes to modernizing and migrating the legacy application in accordance with the business needs yet remains a concern.
Partnering with legacy application migration and modernization company proves useful in this regard. The most experienced ones have the necessary technologies to help you overcome technical challenges and the ability to modernize applications that align with your business requirement.
Modernizing legacy applications involves making major changes to their source code, some of which can affect user experience. One of the solutions to deal with this situation is to employ skilled testing professionals and deploy robust testing automation tools to expedite the testing process to foster accuracy in the testing results. Nevertheless, in any case, the application has to be tested in real-time to evaluate it on the user experience front.
One of the most important objectives that drive digital transformation is a continual improvement in the performance of the applications that the businesses use.
So, as a business wanting to upgrade to modern applications, you must aim to improve the application’s stability and performance. However, you must remember that your legacy applications are huge. So, it is quite likely that you overlook a few minor, yet significant features and functionalities that contribute to the overall performance of the application.
Overcoming the stability and performance challenge is possible when you make a sensible decision, and outsource legacy application modernization and migration to a comprehensive software partner.
Fideltech is a leading, Japan-based global IT company. The company provides an extensive range of IT-related services and solutions, including software development, application support, and legacy application modernization and migration. Partnering with Fideltech opens access to various cutting-edge technologies and enables you to leverage the right software development approaches.
Fideltech’s decade-long experience in the IT sector comprises delivering various successful projects. The company continues to help a lot of companies in Japan, and across the world, modernize their legacy application to achieve optimal efficiency and modern-day competence.