The challenge of legacy systems has, until recently, been viewed as a liability with soaring costs attached to finding solutions. However, it is becoming evident that system modernization strategies can be built off of legacy systems in ways that will save the enterprise money. The most substantial obstacle is the strategy is different for each enterprise based on their current system architecture and their growth needs.
By forcing ourselves out of the “all-or-nothing” perspective with system modernization, some fantastic things can happen. In this article, we will discuss the challenges of legacy systems, how these systems have changed over time and the multiple dimensions of implementing modernized software systems in today’s environment of technological demands.
Many elements of legacy systems contribute to the challenges of modernizing software systems. Their age, construct, and function all have a part. Difficulties can often define the types of systems they are, such as:
Enterprises with similar software systems to the ones described struggle between supporting current clients that rely on the obsolete systems and growing their client base by investing in new customers who demand a more modern approach.
There are strategies the enterprise can put together that can be used to bridge the gap between the old and the new, sacrificing little to accomplish their goals.
Software systems on the enterprise level differ from others due to their complexity. Structural requirements and differing business models all factor in on how systems have changed over the years. Gartner, a research and consultation group in the IT field have been able to explain the changes to software systems over time in what they call the Pace-Layered Application theory.
In a Gartner report on Pace-Layered theory, it describes each layer as:
While implementing the Gartner pace-layers within enterprises for a software project, certain elements move swiftly and some slow. It is a balancing act that leadership must take on to ensure that transitions are taking place with a focus on both the short term and the long term. We cannot provide a roadmap that is a “one-size-fits-all” for all organizations though, because the magnitude differs depending on the nature of the software systems being used as part of the modernization efforts.
The need for modernization is coerced predominantly by changes in technology and business models as well as the change in how the systems are being used and to what extent they are rooted in the system’s architecture. It is beneficial that each dimension is defined and understood during the creation of transformation strategies. Other factors, including emerging technologies, current market conditions, budget demands, and application architectures, should also weigh heavily in addition to the four modernization dimensions as defined below.