Legacy Technology: 5 Most Asked Questions

Legacy systems: like some other things in life, you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them. In this blog post, we aim to explain the 5 most frequently asked questions we receive about legacy technology.

What are legacy technologies?

Legacy technologies are systems, technologies, software, or hardware that is outdated or obsolete. Often, legacy technologies are vital technologies, used in multiple processes and interdepartmental in an organization. Legacy may imply that the technology needs replacement, but in practice these technologies are still in use for many more years to come. This is because legacy technologies may have been used within organizations for decades and contain large amounts of important data. Complete replacement may be an incredibly complex, and costly, challenge. Besides, the technology may still fulfill the needs of the user.

Examples of legacy technologies which were highly popular decades ago, and still in use today, are:

  • Mainframe computers running ancient applications
  • Programming languages, such as COBOL
  • Operating systems, such as MS-DOS, Windows 3.1 or XP
  • Hardware, such as Apple IIGS machines or Intel 286 computers

Why are legacy systems still used?

There are many reasons why organizations may choose to not replace, thus continue to use, legacy systems. Major reasons are:

Don’t fix something that’s not broken: Besides the cons of legacy systems, some organizations may choose to hold on to a legacy technology because it simply still works. Legacy technologies have been tried and tested, are stable and reliable, and staff possesses a high level of understanding of the technology.

High costs: The costs that come with upgrades or replacements are high, especially for complex, organization wide, vital technologies. Besides, organizations have most often heavily invested in a legacy technology. When the costs of maintenance are lower than the cost of the replacement, then organizations may choose to hold on to legacy.

Continuity of operations: Transitioning to an entirely new technology may simply be too disruptive. Legacy technologies fulfill a crucial role within an organization, and a replacement many not necessarily be more reliable, more secure, or faster. The risks introduced by complete replacement may therefore endanger the continuity of operations.

Who uses legacy technology?

The answer is simple. Due to the rapid changes in technology, a system may be considered as legacy within a few years. That is why every organization, older than a few years, will have one or more legacy technologies. Keeping track of risks introduced by legacy IT is relevant for almost any organization, no matter it’s size, age, or industry. However, legacy technologies will most often be found within organizations that have the capabilities to make large investments in technologies, which subsequently become critical once in place.

For example, legacy systems are often found in financial institutions, such as banks, which require highly reliable systems and applications. These applications may be based on obsolete programming languages such as COBOL and running on mainframes. With many transactions happening every second, high demands for security, and incredibly high previous investments, many banks find themselves unable to replace legacy technology. The risks and costs that come with replacement are simply too high.

Why modernize legacy technology?

Some legacy technologies have aged better than others. Therefore, some, but not all, legacy systems have shortcomings such as:

  • Technical limitations
  • Technically complex (loss of technology knowledge or skills)
  • High cost of maintenance
  • Loss of data
  • Low performance (technology failures)
  • Security risks
  • Inflexibility or lack of scalability
  • Termination of support by software or hardware vendor
  • Lack of mobile compatibility
  • Not suited for modern-day business processes
  • Lacking competitive advantage
  • Inability to leverage new technologies and business opportunities
  • Replacement parts are unavailable

How to modernize legacy technology?

Legacy technology can be modernized by using an orchestration layer between systems. A communication interface that connects legacy systems with modern technology. Orchestration includes the approach and technology for integrating business processes and business applications.

As legacy systems have significant value, in this way they can be modernized without being replaced. By connecting systems and channels you bring together valuable data to create ground for optimization. This helps organizations to reap the reward from previous investments.

Through orchestration, data from legacy systems, processes, and technology can be incorporated with cutting-edge modern technologies to make cloud migration, cross-system data sharing, and mobile compatibility possible without sacrificing reliability.

Be Informed is an agile accelerator for digital development, allowing organizations worldwide to reap rewards from previous investments through modernizing legacy systems. To accelerate your business, you should not be confined by past choices. However, in digital development legacy systems can be a major setback. The Be Informed platform helps you continue to utilize your legacy and get the most from this significant investment. Wrap it up, and turn it into something new: secure, stable, adaptable and without any data loss.

At Be Informed, we believe that orchestration is the first step towards digital transformation and end-to-end automation. It’s essential to deliver omnichannel solutions such as automated processes, customer journeys and compliance, which can easily be modified when the situation requires this. Secure the stability of legacy IT and existing data while speeding up processes and above all, evolve to this day and age. You can read more about Be Informed and orchestration here, or contact us and we’ll show you what our platform is capable of!

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