Why Migrate Your Legacy Systems to Low Code
Many companies maintain, run, and provide legacy systems nowadays. They represent a great long-term business investment, making a migration project an inevitable consequence at some point.
And while migrating legacy systems does provide challenges, migrating your system to a low-code platform, in particular, will have many advantages.
In this article, you’ll find some firsthand insights on what it takes to migrate your legacy system to a low-code development platform.
Why Enterprises Run on Legacy Systems
Legacy systems usually imply that a particular software is out of date or needs replacement.
A legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program, “of related to, or being a previous or outdated computer system,” yet still in use.
And while legacy systems do have many challenges and problems, there are many reasons why out-of-date software is still in use by many enterprises. These include:
- The software application “works just fine” and therefore, the company sees no direct benefit in migrating it.
- There’s a high cost in migrating an old, complex, monolithic system.
- The way the system was programmed is complex and/or not well understood. This can occur when programmers who build the system have left the company, the system has been outsourced and the contract with the outsourcing partner has ended, or if the system has not been fully documented. Therefore, a legacy system migration would be risky and difficult to complete.
- Recognize your competitive advantage: your legacy software may represent a competitive advantage for your business. Retiring it would hurt your business.
- People don’t like change: when you replace legacy systems, you shouldn’t underestimate resistance or backlash from your end users.
The Challenges of Legacy Systems
We – as a software provider ourselves – see legacy systems all the time. It can’t be disputed that a lot of enterprises still run business-critical workflows, customer-facing applications, and other important applications on outdated solutions.
And while the above-stated reasons are understandable, there are many challenges and threats that come with maintaining legacy systems.
Maintainability of Legacy Systems
While CIOs or CEOs might feel that legacy systems are still maintainable in their companies, this might not be actually true.
Maintainability and efficient maintainability with happy developers isn’t the same thing. While a system might be still maintainable per definition, a company may neglect the fact that its development team is staffed to maintain old code base. This also means that new developers coming into the organization need training to be able to run outdated software.
Imagine the amount of time and resources organizations could save when not running old software.
Overall, chances are high that code and function are deeply intertwined with each other, instead of a modern, modular approach. This will result in extensive maintenance even for the smallest changes.
Monoliths Are Difficult to Break.
Let’s face it. Monolithic systems become too large to manage.
While there’s nothing wrong about big applications per se, there are various problems in running old, monolithic systems. Consider the following:
- An outage of a non-critical piece of software brings down your entire business application. From our experience, this is one of the biggest challenges companies face when running monolithic systems. Nobody wants additional costs or lost revenue just because of a tiny part in a system failure.
- Changing one part of the system unexpectedly affects other parts although they’re unrelated. This usually leads to big surprises in development teams.
Security Vulnerabilities of Legacy Systems
While legacy systems might work perfectly fine from a user or business perspective, they usually face high security risks. Legacy systems are usually no longer supported by the manufacturer. Therefore, a single vulnerability can be of great risk as attackers can access all application, database, or server information.
The 2022 study reports the global average cost of a data breach has increased 12.7 percent over the previous two years to hit an all-time high of $4.35 million. The average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information also increased by 12.3 percent in two years to $164.
Source: IBM, The Cost of a Data Breach Study
Compliance Becomes a Challenge
While security vulnerabilities are a big business threat for enterprises, legacy systems are also problematic from a compliance perspective. There are various compliance standards nowadays that require you to properly safeguard your applications.
Think about GDPR, for example. With GDPR in place, customers have the right to have their data deleted. While new applications support those cases by default, a legacy system will make legal compliance more time-consuming and difficult to navigate.
In addition, most software-as-a-service providers have a high standard of service level agreements that can cause business costs in terms of non-compliance (e.g. through extensive downtime of your legacy system).
Running a Legacy System Harms Your Hiring Efforts
If you’re running legacy technology in 2023, this not only becomes a threat to your business, but also to your hiring and employer branding efforts. As fewer and fewer programmers and operation managers will have the knowledge of those systems, you’ll face a dwindling talent pool.
In a nutshell, it will become a true challenge to find qualified developers that are willing to maintain your legacy system. While documentation will help to onboard new people to your development team, knowledge is often kept in your developer’s brain. In the worst case, the person that built your legacy system has left the company years ago and no one wants to touch the existing code base. At this point, it’s time to think about migrating your legacy system.
The Solution: Migrate Your Legacy System to Low Code
While facing all those challenges in running legacy systems, there’s a clear need in migrating those to modernized environments built for the future.
Our solution? Migrate your legacy system to a low-code development platform.
And here’s why we believe that low code can save you from running outdated software:
Low code changes the speed of your software development. This is an absolute necessity when conducting a migration project.
In addition, low-code platforms allow non-developers to participate in the migration project as low-code platforms provide these departments with easy-to-use tools. All in in all, low code allows you to deliver better solutions for your users and your business with an customer-focused, test-and-learn approach. With constant iteration towards optimal outcomes, low code should be your tool of choice for migrating your legacy system.
Let’s take a look in detail.
Step-by-Step Migration to Low Code
When you start migrating your legacy systems, you want to start by migrating simple (non-business critical) applications and work your way towards more complex applications.
This provides vital learning, so when it comes to more high-stakes projects, you can minimize the likelihood of making costly mistakes.
It also recommended to start migrating parts of your application that no longer meet the business requirements and needs of your end users. This will allow you to see an immediate return on investment and will likely result in management buy-in that allows you to continue with your migration journey.
Migrating your system step by step to a low-code platform is the ideal way of breaking your monolith.
Another useful framework to consider when migrating your legacy system is the concept of bimodal IT.
Bimodal is the practice of managing two separate but coherent styles of work: one focused on predictability; the other on exploration.
The idea of bimodal IT is simple; you set up your software development into two separate teams.
One team is responsible for maintaining your existing application environment (e.g., your legacy system), while the other team is going to develop the new software system.
In a step-by-step migration, those two teams will collaborate closely on making sure that the old system doesn’t break while building up a new environment.
Integrate Your Legacy System With Low Code
When migrating legacy systems, many companies want to take advantage of the latest technologies, while overlooking those that can integrate with existing systems and services.
Low-code platform allows you to preserve your legacy system for a while by making the functionality of your legacy system available to other systems via the REST API.
While you might want to keep your core system, a low-code platform allows you to build add-ons or additional applications on top of your legacy system. Imagine – for example – building a mobile application for Android and iOS on top of your existing CRM system.
Reusability of Data Model
Another big plus for migrating to a low-code platform – like VisionX – is the reusability of the existing data model. You can simply reuse the already-in-place data model. This enables you to migrate smoothly as you can start building a new user interface while still running on the same data model.
When migrating your Oracle Forms applications even the business logic, the existing masks and data connections can be partly reused.
Visually Develop Your Applications. Anybody Can Do It.
It can be said that visual development is a more intuitive way to build applications.
Using model-driven development concepts to visually define the user interface, logic, and data model, a low-code platform can be used by a variety of user groups. From developers to citizen developers, to senior developers, those groups can easily build native web, mobile, or desktop applications.
Because the development environment is visual and model-driven, users gain proficiency in a fraction of the time it takes to master a traditional language.
With VisionX as your low code platform, you can create the UI from your data model with lightning speed.
Through a combination of drag-and-drop user interfaces, form builders, and visual process modeling, users can leverage low-code development platforms to produce a working app that you can download, open, and start using in a few hours or less.
Flexible Systems Built for the Future
Migrating your legacy systems requires organizations to build a system that remains flexible while meeting the need for the future.
IT teams don’t want the new system to become tomorrow’s legacy. The good news is that migrating your legacy system to a low-code platform will make your migration journey seamless.
Download the Full Guide as a PDF for Free
Want to learn more about low-code development? Download our full low code package, including our Low Code Guide and how to migrate your legacy systems.