Published on August 25th, 2020 📆 | 3569 Views ⚑0
Updating Legacy Technology? 16 Strategies For Success
As both technology and your business evolve, it’s essential to stay on the lookout for new tech solutions that best suit your needs. In some cases, your company will need to clean house and start from scratch. However, other circumstances may simply warrant an upgrade of your current technology.
If the latter is the case for you, you’ll need a plan to update your existing tech stack with minimal interruptions to your current workflow. That’s why we asked the members of Forbes Technology Council to share their best strategies for successfully modernizing legacy technology.
1. Envision your business’ future state.
Technology transformation is often married to digital transformation. Both require a clear vision of a business’ future state and new ways of working. It’s a great opportunity to spring clean and jettison systems that aren’t aligned to that vision. When executing the transformation, excellent change management is the key to ensuring that everyone is aligned and contributing to a shared goal. – Ivan Harris, Kraytix
2. Make decisions based on activity.
We have production installations in the largest enterprise on the planet. There is no such thing as “starting from scratch.” The key to modernizing is understanding what is actually used and what should/could be transitioned. Making decisions based on whether something is “legacy” is a poor way to find your way. Making decisions based on live activity/data will enable a more efficient modernization. – Chris Holmes, Decipher Technology Studios
3. Move to the public cloud.
Be like Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, who is taking his legacy applications at JPMorgan and moving them all to the public cloud. He is refactoring his legacy applications by ripping and replacing large components with open source, modern and, in some cases, dramatically fewer lines of code. The result is your old legacy application has less tech debt, is easier to maintain and is now upgraded (and in the public cloud)! – Danielle Royston, Optiva Inc.
4. Continually improve your codebase.
A codebase that’s proven to work effectively, mastered with automation to build, test and deploy, is a precious asset for competing in the age of software. Continuously improving the way you do daily work can transform the future value of legacy codebases and allow businesses to build new capabilities—on what’s already proven to work well—better, cheaper and faster. – Christopher O’Malley, Compuware Corporation
5. Examine potential agility gains.
It’s always important to understand how critical a technology is to the business and what gains can be had from agility if an application is modernized in a way that allows much more rapid future change. Put the effort and risk into modernization via rewriting/re-platforming when there are significant gains; when dealing with apps where the function will be static, focus on stability and cost. – Matthew Wallace, Faction, Inc.
6. Place a digital layer over your legacy landscape.
Many companies have a vast amount of legacy technology and debt. The best approach is a new mindset. Modernizing legacy is about moving workloads, not replacing a legacy application with a new one. To accomplish this, a digital data layer can be put over the legacy landscape and a PaaS cloud layer built on top as a place to move workloads. Now embrace a workload mindset to whittle away the debt. – Kerrie Hoffman, Get Digital Velocity
7. Develop a comprehensive testing strategy.
The test strategy is crucial. When modernizing legacy tech, a typical approach for the initial release is to upgrade the tech, leaving the capability as-is (no rationalization yet). So it is critical to have a comprehensive testing strategy to validate the capabilities function as required. – Thiru Sivasubramanian, SE2, LLC
8. Perform a thorough data audit.
Start with data. Most legacy system modernization projects fail because data is not migrated or updated correctly. Before starting a modernization project, it’s important to perform a data audit to understand how the modernization changes will affect your data needs. Once you do this, make sure they become part of the modernization project and are constantly revisited to account for changing needs. – Carlos Melendez, Wovenware
9. Adopt a hybrid architecture approach.
Companies must adopt a hybrid architecture approach where different technologies can provide different business functions and features. This will allow businesses to modernize their legacy technology through a continuous cycle of new business value creation and technology upgrade flow. – Sergei Anikin, Pipedrive
10. Look at data protection and efficiency.
Address these areas before upgrading: Will the system and data be adequately protected? Is the legacy system less efficient than the systems it integrates with, increasing downtime risk? Does the talent still exist to support the older system? Will it meet the needs of customers today—and the customers you want tomorrow? Your answers define a successful upgrade or indicate a need to rebuild. – Anna Frazzetto, Harvey Nash/NashTech Global
11. Analyze the support needed for your legacy tech.
The team that built your legacy technology needs to be around for the long term to support it as it ages. People don’t realize or run the numbers to understand (based on the size of the codebase) how much maintenance support they will need for legacy technology. It’s essential to run these numbers, as well as the opportunity cost from new tech, to continue using legacy technology properly. – Allan Wintersieck, Devetry
12. Upgrade a little at a time.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Identify small, discrete parts of the technology platform that can be upgraded. Leveraging contemporary cloud technology and micro-services can be very helpful in allowing a clean separation of the old from the new. Finally, be sure to prioritize business value. Many legacy features are likely not leveraged by a majority of your users. – Dave Todaro, Ascendle
13. Identify problem areas and invest accordingly.
The first thing is to accept that even though any given legacy system may not be “broke,” it likely needs fixing. Independent pharmacies, for example, are often holdouts in making upgrades in technology, but the general move from license-based software to cloud-powered architecture is undeniable. Take 90 days to review where you stand, identify problem areas and invest accordingly to solve them. – Meghann Chilcott, XIL Consulting
14. Assess the maturity level of your cyber defense systems.
First, you’ll want to do a maturity level assessment of your current cyber defense systems. There’s a cost associated with each choice, and what you don’t want to do is simply make your decision on just one tool. A maturity assessment helps you take a holistic view of how changes will impact other systems. But you don’t want to delay the inevitable. If you need to build it, you need to start now. – John Shin, RSI Security
15. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
You must ask yourself what components can be upgraded, reused, recycled or just altogether thrown away. There’s a term called “reinventing the wheel.” If you don’t have to, don’t. You can evolve the wheel already built, refurbish it and put it into a modern system. Often, people get trapped with scrapping and rebuilding only to realize a deficiency much later on. – WaiJe Coler, InfoTracer
16. Know why you’re modernizing your technology.
It’s essential to understand why you’re modernizing your legacy technology before starting. Is it because the tech is failing? Is it outdated, or has its functionality been superseded by another piece of technology? Consider also the business objectives for modernization and ensure your replacement tech still meets or exceeds them. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster