Almost every company has systems that are outdated from one point of view or another. According to the study, there are about 71% of such companies in the manufacturing sector. The data also shows that systems with legacy code make up about 31% of all IT assets. However, there is little business benefit from such systems. If you want to learn more about the importance of legacy system integration, this article is for you.
Why Is It Difficult to Abandon Legacy Systems
Legacy systems are systems that are long outdated but still not decommissioned. Although such systems have many drawbacks, the owners are in no hurry to get rid of them. There are six main reasons for this:
- employees and managers, most often middle-level, are afraid of change;
- high cost of data migration and implementation of new solutions in the existing IT architecture;
- lack of competencies within the company for automating business processes, data migration, and working with cloud solutions;
- skeptical attitude towards modernization, since legacy systems still effectively perform basic functions;
- expectation of a return on investment previously invested in IT assets;
- lack of suitable alternatives on the market.
The Main Disadvantages of Legacy Systems
While legacy systems may seem indispensable, they objectively create problems for owners. Let’s analyze all the disadvantages of legacy systems.
High Maintenance Cost
Maintaining legacy systems is like caring for a critically ill patient who is on a life support machine. You need to be careful, think over every step, and spend a lot of time on expensive procedures.
Legacy maintenance programs are expensive for the following reasons:
- fixed costs for management and resources;
- multiple improvements to adapt systems to changing business requirements and exchange data with other systems;
- the need for specially trained personnel to work with legacy code, for example, as is the case with the Cobol language;
- continuous development and installation of additional modules;
- creation of cross-platform interfaces for access to disparate business applications, if the functions of the legacy system itself are not enough;
- maintaining the current state of documentation and reference books;
- dependence on obsolete equipment, which is difficult to find on the market, as it is either discontinued or its production is limited.
Limited Manufacturer Support
This problem is more for commercial solutions, because custom business applications, as a rule, do not have any deployed support program at all, which is even worse.
Vendors allocate limited resources to support outdated solutions, so critical updates are released less often, the technical support staff is limited, and the feature set has not changed for years.
Since new updates are not released, the performance of the systems will not increase over time. In addition, many legacy applications are designed for legacy hardware that does not offer high performance compared to more modern counterparts.
Problems With Documentation And Regulations
For legacy applications, there is often simply no detailed documentation and business process regulations. This is especially true for self-written solutions that were created to solve narrow tasks. Any change in legacy applications is always a risk to reduce the efficiency of business processes.
Old employees leave, and you have to look for new ones in their place, but the older the legacy code, the harder it is to do it. The problem is exacerbated if the code has not been documented. It will be very difficult for a programmer and business analyst to figure out how the legacy system works and how to use it.
Ultimately, the organization is simply forced to move to other solutions, because it cannot find specialists or allocate resources to maintain the system.
Information Security Risks
Many legacy systems contain vulnerabilities that increase in severity over time. Legacy systems are characterized by the following weaknesses in terms of information security:
- outdated functionality is not adapted to modern information security requirements;
- dependence on outdated hardware, software, and databases creates a layer that is difficult to control for vulnerabilities;
- legacy systems are not transparent from the point of view of modern monitoring and protection tools;
- legacy code interferes with the rapid updating of the information security contour;
- legacy systems are especially sensitive to external threats.
Most legacy systems do not support the features that have become the gold standard in information security: two-factor authentication, OTP, role-based access, and code injection shielding.
Also, companies with legacy IT assets have to spend additional resources on data protection, which limits the speed of change and increases the cost of maintenance and integration.
Not every legacy system can be integrated via an API. If a company has completely or partially lost control over the legacy code, then the only way to integrate is RPA technology (robotic process automation).
While RPA automates the transfer of data, this comes at the cost of additional investment in IT architecture and increased downtime. Legacy systems also often require integration modules that need to be maintained regularly, for example, when the rules for passing data through an external API change.
Loss And Duplication of Data
Due to complex integration, data stored in disparate legacy applications is difficult to transfer to other systems. This leads to the re-entry of information, which is fraught with its loss. As a result, the company is forced to either implement costly MDM solutions to keep data consistent, or manually revalidate data on each use.
The interfaces of legacy applications are far from modern UI standards, as they were developed many years ago and rarely updated. Although interfaces may seem like an insignificant element of an application, they affect the speed of entering and retrieving information, and therefore the quality of business processes.
In addition, because of the inconvenience of interfaces, companies spend several extra weeks training employees, which indirectly increases the cost of hiring staff.
Legacy applications make it difficult to adopt disruptive technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Replacing outdated solutions is necessary to improve the efficiency of business processes and adapt the IT architecture to the requirements of information security. If you are focused on legacy system integration, we recommend contacting Modlogix.