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Why enterprises in 2022 are moving away from inefficient and expensive legacy systems and toward cloud modernization.


The Case Against Legacy Systems - and for Cloud Modernization

Posted by Angela Davis on August 19, 2022
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Cloud modernization is a hot topic right now. Many businesses are still using software solutions that are past their sell-by date, and these monolithic systems have become increasingly obsolete and defunct due to a lack of vendor support.

The longer organizations stick with their legacy systems, the more areas like security, compliance, productivity, and the user experience lag behind. This is bad news for your business.

Global enterprises like yours rely on a never-ending tech stack of modules, applications, and IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, keeping all of these up-to-date can be a challenge.

From a service level perspective, your legacy systems still seem to be meeting business needs, but is this truly the case - or is it time you considered cloud modernization?

Legacy system modernization explained


A graph showing the point at which legacy systems need to be abandoned in favor of cloud modernization.

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As organizations like yours continue to grow, they reach a point where their enterprise system begins to lag behind. This creates a dilemma regarding how to keep maturing and expanding in size and scope.

Converting or updating a legacy system is one of the most common modernization strategies used by businesses today. Legacy system modernization allows organizations to combine the best of both worlds. You can keep using your aging monolithic system but marry it to modern solutions like cloud technology platforms - e.g. Amazon Web Services (AWS) - to build a robust and resilient IT architecture.

When combined with a cloud strategy, legacy system modernization allows you to optimize workloads and go serverless by relying on cloud-based mainframes and data centers.

Today, it’s even common for consumers to use legacy software - for example, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE)r. Originally released in 1995, this now has 11 different base versions. But, as of June 15, 2022, the not-so-popular-anymore browser has been discontinued.

So, what happened to IE users on June 15th? Did the app just vanish? Of course not! Instead, consumers and businesses can continue using IE to their heart’s delight. As time passes, though, the web browser will continue to fall behind in areas like security, compliance, and compatibility.

For many in this situation, it’s easier to keep using the tools they know. As the saying goes, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. However, this isn’t the reality for organizations like yours. Enterprises can only evolve in line with their business applications.

Enterprise application modernization

Application modernization refers to updating obsolete software using modern tools and platforms. This can be a daunting and complicated task.

For every system tool you use, modernization means updating things like features, languages, frameworks, enterprise architecture, platforms, and IT infrastructure.

Of course, you must ensure these updates don’t cause problems and are suited to the needs of the business.

Legacy applications


A chart showing software obsolescence across different versions.

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One of the problems businesses have with legacy applications is they’re not cloud-native and act as major obstacles to migration. In other words, they can be poor or ineffective at connecting to modern cloud solutions like SaaS products for business intelligence.

Many legacy applications are also no longer supported by the vendor. Even though they may be maintained for years after being out of production, this will not be the case forever. Eventually, both maintenance and customer support will fall off and the application will descend into obsolescence.

Nonetheless, many of these applications become integrated into business processes, so organizations continue using the unsupported software. This decision comes down to several things but is primarily made to maintain business continuity and avoid the disruption and delays inherent in upgrading or replacing legacy apps.

Legacy software is also inflexible in terms of what it can do and how it can be used. At some point, this won’t work for your business anymore. Luckily, modernizing legacy apps, by doing things like migrating from old code to open-source programming languages, can go a long way toward providing the flexibility you need. This includes being able to run it on cloud infrastructure.

Why is enterprise application modernization important for your organization?

A photo of a network server system with a cloud computing graphic. As with all things in business, every process change should have the same goal: to improve the performance of the company and increase business value.

Due to our rapidly evolving 21st-century technology, it’s all the more important to modernize your enterprise system and applications.

Modernization projects bring several key benefits that can help your organization reach its business goals, including:

Greater agility

Nothing helps an organization keep or increase its market share like superior business agility. Modernizing your legacy applications ensures you can achieve rapid time to market (most likely faster than the competition). Switching to a cloud-based architecture lets DevOps and QA teams rapidly test and deploy applications as and when needed.

Increased productivity

Most legacy apps are a product of their time. This means slow and clunky user interfaces and a poor user experience compared to the modern solutions available today.

Modernization improves the overall user experience, but what does that mean exactly? Well, your teams will be empowered with more efficient workflows, which are boosted by intuitive interfaces and application dashboards.

Better data streaming also allows you to more effectively implement things like machine learning and AI for analytics and reporting, and modernized apps play better with automation tools and their associated programming languages.

Remember, every time you eliminate redundant, manual tasks, you save your team members time, so they can focus on more important and skilled jobs where their talents are not wasted.

Reduced costs

Modern and updated business tools may require an upfront investment of time and money; when used properly, though, they will always help your organization reduce costs. Many cloud-native platforms (i.e. Kubernetes) allow you to use containers or microservices on demand to minimize your resource spending.

Instances are created only when needed and returned as quickly as they were allocated. This means you don’t need to worry about a resource pool of reserves. App customization can also help eliminate license fees and/or subscription fees for legacy software.

Another major saving is your IT infrastructure. As you modernize the code of your legacy systems, you’ll be able to wean them off expensive in-house solutions. This means you can reduce your IT footprint by becoming serverless. You also won’t need to rely as much on highly specialized (and costly) team members.

This all boils down to cost savings across the board. According to Oracle, companies can save between 30–50% by moving to the cloud.

Improved customer experience

When you implement a modernization strategy, it’s not only your organization that benefits; your customers also reap the rewards of upgrades and cloud adoption for legacy applications.

When it comes to software development, things like low-code mobile apps and flexible APIs will give them more robust products with faster response times.

A report from New Relic found that modernization improved application response times by up to 10 times.

Legacy system modernization approaches

Today, there are seven common legacy modernization approaches, which are known as the “seven Rs.”

These are:

Legacy modernization approaches and the techniques they use, which are graded in terms of complexity.

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Replace. Abandon the obsolete system and replace it with a modern solution. This would involve ditching your legacy in-house accounting software and switching to something like NetSuite ERP. This requires hefty tasks like data migration and system onboarding.

Replatform. Port an application’s components to a new runtime platform. This involves a minimal amount of code alterations by way of an API integration platform. Developers can adapt applications to the new platform with relative ease.

Replatforming. lets businesses maintain their tech ecosystem with reduced infrastructure costs, greater scalability, and improved performance in all areas.

Rehost. Deploy your legacy systems in a new and modern environment. This could be hosted privately, on a public or hybrid cloud, or physically hosted on-premise. This lift-and-shift approach allows for quicker migration to services like Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Refactor. This involves adding new technologies to the various tiers of your business systems. It requires heavy backend work but keeps things straightforward for the end-user. It’s also less disruptive than a complete replacement or rewrite. Code changes and optimization allow components of your legacy systems to be connected to cloud-based environments.

Rebuild. Start from scratch and build a completely new and modern enterprise system. This involves a heavy upfront investment. Full application development also comes with a lot of disruption.

However, the end result is ultimately rewarding. You’ll gain access to modern DevOps technologies like containers, microservices, and declarative APIs. These are the tools that will reap the most significant benefits for your organization.

Rearchitect. Make the shift to new application architecture. You can alter the application code to access the greater capabilities of a new platform. For example, access real-time data streams for more accurate predictive analytics. This involves migrating your legacy system from internal infrastructure to a modern alternative.

(W)Rap or encapsulate. Wrap your existing legacy component in access layers with APIs. This means minimal code changes and the rapid deployment of modernization tech. Encapsulation allows you to leverage the solutions you already have and extend their features and value.

Begin your cloud journey today

A graphical representation of cloud computing.Legacy systems are a symptom of rapidly developing technologies for business intelligence. Modernization isn’t just about adapting to evolving business needs though; it’s about maintaining your resilience in volatile, disruptive, and ever-changing commercial environments.

Cloud modernization is a roadmap for organizations like yours that are aiming to reach or maintain their positions at the top of their sector. With it, you can remain one step ahead of the competition.


What are legacy apps?

Legacy applications are software that has become obsolete. This may be because an app is no longer supported by the vendor or the vendor no longer exists. This software can still function, and many businesses choose to continue using it as a necessary but short-term solution.

What is cloud modernization?

Cloud modernization is the process whereby an organization either moves its existing tech stack to the cloud or updates its cloud infrastructure. Migrating to or updating your cloud technologies is an essential business strategy to ensure you stay competitive.

Why modernize applications?

Modernizing legacy applications allows you to take a step toward your end goal. Rather than having to completely replace every business tool at once, you can prioritize and triage which areas of the business to modernize. For many organizations, the overarching aim is to completely migrate every business process to cloud-native applications and platforms.

Modernizing applications improves their effectiveness. At the very least, you know they won’t become obstacles to improved performance and adoption. Of course, whether in-house or outsourced, you can only persist in using legacy software for so long. The future replacement of existing business applications is a one-hundred-percent certainty.

Why are enterprises moving to cloud technologies?

Enterprises are moving to reap the benefits of a cloud environment. Shifting legacy systems to cloud services and artificial intelligence gives businesses improved agility that helps them rise above the competition. A digital transformation to cloud computing also improves the UX and reduces IT and operational costs.

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