We are going through a massive digital transformation and none of us wants to be left behind. We can realize the significance of transforming the current processes and products to stay at the top of our game! Transformation is the order of the day. To attract and retain talent & customers, remain competitive, to drive business growth we need to stay relevant and innovative.
As per IDC, by the year 2022, about 70% of the organizations were actively deploying digital transformation strategies to enhance employee productivity, customer delight and business output. Within the IT teams, the digital transformation is happening through modernizing the outdated legacy systems to bring about efficiency and embrace intelligent decision making.
As per Meghan Rimol, Gartner : " As organizations undergo digital transformation, the IT leaders must modernize the application portfolio to operate at the pace of business change".
The inability to modernize our outdated legacy systems can restrict the enterprise from moving ahead. Over time the older systems tend to not accrue the same value as they did once. This is because of changing requirements, the emergence of new technologies, a different set of challenges etc. When legacy systems are more hassle-some than value-generating, it may be time to shuffle.
But let's understand the basics first.
What is a Legacy System?
A legacy system can be referred to as an old software or technology that an enterprise relies upon. The legacy system may be integral to the enterprise and it may be in operation however it may have eroded over time and is becoming a liability. The system is mission-critical and is connected with a hardware type or operating system that may no longer be supported. With time the system may become more difficult to work with and may hamper the business operations. The functioning of the system may get complex and expensive to retain. It is something that your team may use because they have no other option!
When the technology or software starts encountering these issues as outlined below they may be called; 'legacy system'
- Third-party integration of the system cannot be supported anymore.
- It may be getting increasingly difficult to maintain and update the system.
- Investment of too much time & efforts of the IT team.
- Hacked integrations or code bloat may pose instability or performance issues.
- The system cannot be considered agile to the upcoming customer needs.
- The system may not adapt to new technology.
- There could be security or compliance-related challenges.
"Legacy Systems in both life and P&C are built on outdated architecture with high maintenance cost, inherent inflexibility, redundant features, lack of connectivity and low efficiency. Complex application and process logic is often hard-coded and undocumented". - Gartner
The rapid pace of technological shifts, changes in the organization, market dynamics etc can lead to legacy systems.
We'd need to part ways with the legacy systems because of a number of reasons.
- It may not be compatible with the new tools, applications, software etc.
- The legacy systems that are device-dependent are incompatible with multi-platform usage and may lack mobile versions.
- Slow, buggy, lagging legacy systems may result in user dissatisfaction.
- They may encounter additional hidden costs like training requirements, inefficiencies, outdated components etc.
- May need regular updates that are costly to deal with.
- They may take a longer time to respond to the market changes.
Legacy systems may become an obstacle to delivering relevant and desired results.
What do we mean by legacy system/ application modernization?
Upgrading, improving or replacing the legacy systems with the updated contemporary software and tools. There could be a complete system overhaul or certain components may be replaced. In the modernization phase, we may update the legacy system to include new features, architecture etc.
Legacy system modernization/ software modernization is a journey. It hugely depends on the state in which the legacy system is, the challenges faced by the organization, the short and long term business aspirations etc. There are a number of modernization approaches that one can take.
However, it isn't as simple.
Our legacy systems are generally created around our internal processes. Hence switching to a completely new architecture may not be viable. At times we may also not come up with a modern alternative as easily. Letting go of the legacy system may be difficult for the enterprises as it may house critical data. Replacing the system may risk losing business-sensitive data.
Where the overall overhaul of the legacy system may be difficult, we'd be able to replace and upgrade individual tools or components within the system.
How low-code supports legacy modernization?
With low-code, enterprises are able to opt for a system overhaul that works best for their particular needs and aspirations. Rebuilding the entire architecture can be time and cost draining. However, with a low-code platform, you'd be able to streamline your legacy modernization process. Low-code enables process improvement and productivity. You'd be able to adapt as you move from legacy to more modern architecture. Low-code makes the transition smooth.
One of the significant advantages of using a low-code platform to modernize the legacy architecture is that it enables the extensive long process of migration quite efficient. With the identification of the key process and systems to modernize, the development phase can begin almost immediately. We can have a centralized management approach that can support upgrades and deployment of the software and applications.
Traditional migration processes rely heavily on the IT teams. There could be a backlog because of overly worked up IT teams. With low-code, we may not face such a challenge. The low-code platforms can easily empower the citizen developers who have no or low coding experience to create workflows, develop applications and digitize the overall process. This can empower the IT teams to focus on innovating as a lot has been taken off their plate. The IT teams have the bandwidth to focus on being more creative while the business leaders give their attention to significant other tasks like customer value maximization, developing market strategy etc.
What are the strategies for legacy modernization using low-code?
How can legacy systems be modernized using low-code tools? There are strategies that we can look at to support our legacy system modernization efforts. We can deploy these strategies individually or collectively as per our requirements.
- Encapsulation: By applying this strategy we let the legacy application be in its original state, however, we can add new features and connect them via API. This is one of the easiest strategies to bring improvement in usability and functionality. However, we'd need to create an effective interface for our modern system. With low-code, we should be able to do this. Rather than investing in custom development or off-the-shelf solutions, we can create and deploy an effective interface with low-code in minutes! With low-code, we'd be able to create a new interface for free and save up on some extra bucks.
- Rebuilding: Replacing & rebuilding the legacy system are some of the more effective legacy modernization strategies. However, they are also quite involving and costly. Rebuilding new components and applications take money and time. But with the low-code platform of development, this can no longer be a challenge with low-code it isn't just cheaper but also faster to recreate legacy systems.
- Extension: When businesses used to find rebuilding the legacy architecture time and resources draining they turned to replatforming, refactoring or rearchitecting the legacy tools. However, with the low-code tools, it is quite possible to extend the functions of the legacy software/applications. There'll be no need to bring about extensive changes to the core code, architecture or configuration. With a modern low code platform, we'd be able to create apps quickly. These can be deployed as an extension to the existent legacy system.
- Rehosting: With the rehosting strategies we'd be able to redeploy the component of the application to some other cloud, virtual or physical infrastructure. Here we'll not need to alter the application code and we need not modify any application functions or features.
- Refactoring: With this strategy, we'd be able to optimize and restructure the current code without having any impact on its external behaviour. This way we'd be able to improve the features and functions and modernize them from a legacy system.
- Replatforming: With this strategy, we can easily migrate the legacy component to a fresh runtime platform. Here we may make very minimal alterations to the code so that it can adapt to the new platform. However, the features, functions code structure etc all remain the same.
- Hybrid Strategy: By a hybrid strategy, we mean to use either two or more of the strategies we discussed above to modernize the legacy architecture. Most of the time it can result in rehosting some of the components of the legacy system to improve security. We can then use some other strategies for functions improvements.
What are the advantages of low-code platform to legacy modernization endeavours?
Why would you want to opt for a low-code approach to legacy modernization? This is an obvious question. We can list down some of the advantages that are pro-low-code mode of legacy modernization.
- Agile approach: The visual design aspects of the low-code platforms can enable drag and drop components to make changes, alter, rebuild etc. This can greatly reduce the development time as we are using the graphical user interface in place of coding.
- Increases efficiency & productivity: With low code, we are able to be quick and deliver results in time. What used to take months may now be accomplished in weeks or days. The low code platform enables the use and reuse of functions and modules that can bring about consistency in our efforts.
- Easy to adapt to changes: The low-code platform for development is able to create working relationships between the enterprise and the IT teams. Otherwise, they work in isolation. Whenever there is a need to modify or alter the low-code platform readily makes it available. With the modern approach to development, we'll be able to create first mock-ups and prototypes for the business heads to evaluate.
- Provides better quality: With low-code platforms, we'll need less or no code at all. This can reduce error to a great extent. Testing is one of the significant aspects of a low-code mode of development however standard modules and components offer a whole lot of functions that can be tested once and used many times.
ToolJet can be the low-code platform you've been looking for
With ToolJet you'd be able to migrate your data and enhance processes from your legacy architecture to the modern architecture. Our platform comes with a simple and effective user experience. You'd be able to create flexible modern architecture that stays relevant and effective long term. Transitioning your legacy architecture to a low code platform will make the process smooth and hassle-free.
Legacy modernization is a strategy. It involves thoughtful simulations. Executing digital transformation, achieving long term business goals, improving the current business processes etc. It is an ongoing process with changing consumer expectations, market requirements etc. With low-code we can modernize legacy applications quickly and consistently. This supports us to stay up to mark and achieve a competitive edge. Low-code development is definitely the preferred method to modernize apps and software.