How much time and money does your company waste maintaining your legacy applications? A recent survey indicates that companies use anywhere from 70-80% of their tech budget (and countless hours) just keeping their legacy applications running.
It’s kind of like owning an old, beat-up car. The car might still work, but it lacks modern features, doesn’t run very well, and a good portion of your time and money goes into keeping that car on the road. In fact, buying a new car would probably cost less than maintaining the old one.
Modernization is similar…but different. It’s similar in the sense that modernizing your applications is often less expensive than maintaining legacy applications. However, modernization is a bit more complicated than just buying a new car. How much more complicated? The degree of difficulty varies per modernization approach. Choosing the right approach largely depends on your company’s needs and goals.
If you’d like an in-depth look at modernization requirements and methods, here’s a free whitepaper that will help you: Crash course in modernization. If you just want a basic overview of your modernization options, I’ve summarized 5 different methods below, along with the pros and cons of each:
Screen‐scraping creates new, modern‐looking interfaces for your legacy applications…without actually updating the old applications. A screen‐scraping tool does nothing more than scrape the information off your existing applications and present it in a graphical interface.
Pros: Speed and price. It provides modern‐looking applications quickly without altering the underlying applications.
Cons: It does not actually modernize your applications. Maintenance is actually more difficult, time consuming, and expensive as you will have to maintain your old underlying applications as well as the screen‐scraped applications.
2. Code Conversion
Code converters take old applications written in outdated programming languages and convert the code to a modern programming language.
Pros: Code converters provide a quick way to turn outdated code into modern code without learning a new programming language.
Cons: It doesn’t change the outdated application structure, which leads to difficult maintenance and limited application capabilities.
The “rip‐and‐replace” method is exactly what it sounds like. Throw out your old applications and create new, modern applications from the ground up.
Pros: Gives you applications that address your current business needs and take advantage of the most modern methods, languages, and databases. It leaves you with applications that are easy to maintain and can grow with your business.
Cons: Throwing out your old, yet functioning, applications increases the chances that you might break something. Additionally, since you’re building new applications from the ground up, this is the most time‐consuming method.
4. Buy new and migrate
This method requires that you buy a pre-built application package and migrate your data
over for use on the new platform.
Pros: This method gives you modern, easily maintainable applications that take advantage of the most modern methods, languages, and databases. It’s usually less time consuming than
the “rip‐and‐replace” method, and typically comes with less risk.
Cons: This is often the most expensive option. Also, because the applications weren’t
designed for your company, they usually require a fair amount of customization.
5. Extend and surround
This approach involves gradually surrounding your old applications with completely new and modern applications. It lets you modernize different parts of your systems gradually, as the need arises.
Pros: This approach leaves you with truly modern applications, and eliminates much of the risk associated with the “rip and replace” method. Additionally, it lets you re‐use certain
parts of your old applications that are still crucial to your business.
Cons: Unless you use a development tool, this is often the slowest method. It’s best suited for companies that want to modernize at their own pace, but don’t need to modernize everything right away.
If legacy applications are hurting your company, ignoring the situation will only waste time and money. However, there is no “one size fits all” modernization approach. You must determine your own modernization goals, and then choose the approach the best fits your needs.