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Re-architecting Legacy Applications: Main Risks & Benefits

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Elena Besedina, Project Manager
Re-architecting Legacy Applications: Main Risks & Benefits

Often, companies need to make changes to stay competitive. Re-architecting, or redesigning an existing solution, has a special place among modernizing approaches. It suits businesses seeking to enhance their application's functionality and adapt for future growth.

Integrio is an IT outsourcing company with robust expertise in legacy system modernization services. Today, we'll discuss the benefits and risks of re-architecting and compare alternative methods. Also, you'll know about the requirements for implementing such an approach.


What Is Legacy Application Re-Architecting?

Re-architecting legacy software is redesigning an existing application or system to enhance its functionality and scalability. This process includes developing new code, adjusting the current codebase, or blending both. The approach varies based on the specific project requirements.

By using declarative models and some original code, engineers keep much of the business logic and avoid creating a new application. That means you can move your processes to a new system without rewriting all the code. This way, companies streamline the development cycle, lower maintenance expenses, and boost overall performance.


How Can Your Legacy Application Benefit from Re-Architecting?

What are the key benefits of legacy application re-architecting? Let's dive into the multifaceted advantages, from improved performance and cost efficiency to enhanced security and better technical compliance.

Lower costs

When businesses stick to legacy software, it often leads to higher expenses. They are associated with outdated technologies, complex code structures, and the need for constant troubleshooting and updates. Re-architecting includes automating processes and optimizing workflows. Besides, it’s about adopting newer, more efficient technologies that require less ongoing attention. As a result, you cut down on the time and money spent on maintenance.

Also, you can use cloud storage solutions like Azure or AWS with a pay-as-you-go pricing model, where you only pay for what you use. It prevents overspending on services that are not in use or are duplicated. Additionally, the serverless architecture automatically adjusts the resources your system needs without manual intervention. Dedicated developers can focus on improving the system rather than constantly monitoring their day-to-day operations.

Flexible Mircoservices

Older software is often built with a monolithic architecture, using a single code base. If there's even a minor problem, the whole system can crash. It's like a house of cards — remove one, and everything falls apart.

Instead, the microservice approach is much smarter. Instead of having everything tightly connected, it uses independent building blocks. If one block fails, the others can keep standing strong. This way, the enterprise software stays up and running, even with some issues.

Better Scalability

Older systems often struggle with scalability. For a small startup, for instance, this is not a big deal. However, as the business gets bigger, the limitations become more evident, especially when compared to giants like Facebook or Amazon. For example, you can face performance issues, slower response times, and even system failures during peak periods.

Here's where re-architecting for the cloud makes a huge difference. Your applications can automatically adjust based on how many people use them without sacrificing performance. Whether your business experiences sudden popularity, a seasonal spike, or steady growth, you will handle these variations. As a bonus, you avoid unnecessary costs.

Requirement Compliance

The challenges arise when existing systems can't fully meet a growing company's technical and business requirements. Re-architecting allows organizations to retain essential processes, functionalities, and unique features. This way, your software can fit into a more advanced technology environment while maintaining the core aspects that drive the business forward.

It's essential to align with the latest IT trends without overhauling the business logic. Furthermore, you can optimize both business logic and data workflow. Leverage new technological paradigms to enhance customer interactions and transform operations.

High Security

Legacy applications built on outdated technologies may carry vulnerabilities that malicious actors tend to exploit. They range from weak encryption methods to obsolete security protocols.

Re-architecting is a proactive approach to cybersecurity. It's not merely fixing existing vulnerabilities but creating a robust security foundation to resist current and future threats. You should invest in enhanced security measures to mitigate risks, build user trust, and safeguard sensitive information.


When You Should Consider Re-architect A Legacy Software

What signs indicate it's time to re-architect the legacy system?

Significant Maintenance Costs

Legacy software runs on outdated hardware, resulting in higher maintenance costs. This spending accrues over time as the aging hardware becomes more challenging and expensive to support. It also exposes systems to increased cyber threats due to a lack of essential security features and updates. Furthermore, the technological lag hinders the timely implementation of innovations and company efficiency and competitiveness.

Reengineering frees software from the constraints of expensive hardware. It stimulates the introduction of cost-effective and safe technologies. Integrate today's scalable solutions for sustainable efficiency and success.

Cloud Compatibility Issues

If your monolithic solution is not migrating to the cloud smoothly, re-architecting breaks it down into smaller, adaptable parts called microservices. This way, each piece can be adjusted and moved to the cloud independently. Re-architecture not only overcomes interoperability issues but allows full advantage of cloud technologies.

Moving large datasets from on-premise storage to the cloud can be complex and error-prone in legacy applications. Re-architecting considers data migration strategies, ensuring a seamless transition with minimal disruptions and optimizing data storage and retrieval processes.

Rapid Business Growth

When your business gets too big for your current software, it's time to consider re-architecting. For example, if you buy another company or need a special solution, your old system might not handle it well. Re-architecting is like giving your software a big update to meet the new, bigger tasks your business has.

For example, if your industry faces new regulations or compliance standards, your existing software might not meet these requirements. Or your application has accumulated technological debt, making it challenging to implement new features. Also, changes in the market or emerging competitors introduce recent technological advancements that give others a competitive edge.


Potential Risks Involved in Legacy Software Re-Architecting

When it comes to giving your old software a new lease on life through re-architecting, there are potential risks you should be aware of. Let's explore the most common ones:

Lack of Thorough Documentation

Incorrect dependency assessments between modules, components, or external services can result in failures or disruptions. The lack of clarity in data flow and structures leads to inconsistencies, integrity issues, and suboptimal database design. Without comprehensive documentation, re-architected systems might not align with the intended business logic.

To mitigate this risk, you should analyze the existing codebase and continuously test the architecture to identify discrepancies between expected and actual system behavior. Also, integrate thorough documentation as an integral part of the re-architecting process.

Operational Disruption

Rebuilding an existing solution can affect the smooth functioning of the software and web development lifecycle and ongoing operations. Current developers may need substantial time to learn and understand the intricacies of the legacy software. Delays and operational downtime impact business continuity and user experience.

Adopt a phased approach with partial releases to minimize the impact of operational disruption during the transition. Simulate the re-architected environment to identify potential issues and mitigate risks before implementation. Also, encourage collaboration between development, operational, and other relevant teams.

Bad User Experience

Long-term customers are used to the application's specific details. Small changes, even minor user interface (UI) adjustments, may lead to disappointment, as clients need to relearn how to interact with the program. They could even resist changes, resulting in decreased acceptance.

Involve customers as an integral part of the innovation process and consider their opinions and feedback when making UI changes. Conduct thorough user testing during and after re-architecting, gathering insights about preferences and concerns. Implement UI changes gradually, allowing clients to adapt to modifications without significant disruptions. And, of course, provide educational resources and support for quick adaptation.

Inefficient Team Coordination

When deciding to modernize your legacy system, teams should balance the ongoing maintenance of the existing product while simultaneously working on the re-architecting process. Splitting the team or frequent task switching can lead to inefficiencies, delays, or potential disruptions in both operations.

Conduct a comprehensive analysis of human resources to determine the number of employees available for maintenance and updating tasks. If there is a lack of in-house personnel, consider hiring a reliable legacy modernization partner with the expertise to assist in both processes. Prioritize tasks based on urgency and dependencies and create a well-defined plan to ensure seamless team coordination.

Performance Issues

As user numbers grow and scaling becomes imperative, a monolithic approach may struggle to handle the increased load efficiently. This results in slowed response times, decreased system responsiveness, and degraded performance. It is especially critical for eCommerce solutions, where scalability and the increasing user base are crucial.

Transitioning from a monolithic to a microservices architecture allows for more scalable and loosely coupled components, mitigating the risk of performance bottlenecks. You should develop a robust scalability plan and implement monitoring tools to enable quick issue identification and resolution.


What Sets Legacy Application Re-Architecting Apart from Other Modernization Approaches?

Different modernization approaches offer unique paths to enhancement. We'll delve into three key strategies – rehosting, replatforming, and re-architecting – to help you chart the course that best aligns with your software needs.

Rehosting or Lift and Shift

Rehosting, often called "Lift and Shift", is a modernization approach where an application is moved from its current environment to a new one without significant modifications to its architecture or codebase. It's often favored for legacy applications that require a swift transition to a new infrastructure without extensive redevelopment.

Pros:

  • Rehosting is a rapid transition strategy, allowing organizations to migrate their applications swiftly.

  • It can be a cost-effective option, especially when moving to cloud platforms.

  • The migration process typically involves minimal downtime, enabling businesses to maintain continuity during the transition.

  • If issues arise, it's simpler to revert to the previous state.

Cons:

  • Rehosting may only partially leverage the benefits of modern cloud services or architectures.

  • The opportunity to optimize the application for the new environment might be missed.

  • The application might not be fully aligned with the capabilities and features of the new hosting environment.

  • The existing technical debt and issues in the application may persist.

  • It is unsuitable for platforms requiring significant architectural changes or modernization for improved scalability and performance.

Replatform

Replatforming is a strategy that involves modifications during migration, typically optimizing its performance and scalability or leveraging new features. Unlike the "Lift and Shift" approach, it introduces targeted changes to enhance the app's compatibility with the new environment while avoiding a complete redesign.

Pros:

  • Replatforming allows for targeted optimizations, leading to improved performance or scalability.

  • Replatforming can save costs by optimizing resource utilization and streamlining the app's operation.

  • Replatforming enables the adoption of new features and services the target platform provides.

Cons:

  • Replatforming may not address all architectural or design issues in the application.

  • Deciding which modifications to implement requires careful consideration, as making the wrong choices may result in suboptimal outcomes.

  • Replatforming may not eliminate all existing technical debt, leading to ongoing maintenance challenges.

  • Replatforming may introduce compatibility issues with certain aspects of the application.

  • The approach potentially limits the long-term benefits.

Re-architecting

Re-architecting is a comprehensive modernization approach that involves redesigning and restructuring the architecture. It often involves significant changes to the codebase and infrastructure to align it with contemporary best practices. Re-architecting is often a choice for apps needing a complete overhaul to stay competitive and innovative in the long run.

Pros:

  • Re-architecting offers a complete application overhaul, adapting to modern architectures, frameworks, and technologies.

  • Architecture redesign leads to optimized performance and enhanced scalability.

  • This approach ensures the long-term app viability by addressing architectural weaknesses and aligning with technology trends.

  • Your solution can adapt more flexibly to new business requirements.

  • Re-architecting means a systematic elimination of technical debt, ensuring a clean codebase.

Cons:

  • Re-architecting is a time-consuming and resource-intensive process, requiring careful planning and execution.

  • The extensive changes may lead to disruptions in ongoing business operations, demanding thorough risk management and planning.

  • Successful re-architecting needs a team with specialized skills and expertise.


Modernize Your Architecture with Integrio

Every company needs to keep up with the ever-evolving technology landscape. Rebuilding breathes new life into legacy systems and seamlessly aligns them with your business's current and future necessities. However, it is a complex process with risks, requiring many years of experience and qualifications.

Integrio is a reliable partner for re-architecting legacy systems for aviation, manufacturing, real estate, telecommunications, transportation, digital marketing, health, and fitness.

We will help preserve the business logic of your platform, making the solution accessible to new technologies, including AI and machine learning. Also, we will integrate your system with cloud computing services and modern APIs to enrich app functionality and capabilities. Contact us to modernize your architecture.


FAQ

Legacy software re-architecting is the process of redesigning an existing system to enhance its functionality, scalability, and alignment with modern technologies. It involves making significant changes to the architecture, codebase, or both.

If your application struggles with performance issues and scalability challenges and is not aligned with current technology trends, re-architecting might be a suitable choice. However, it's essential to evaluate the associated costs, potential disruptions, and the urgency of modernization against the benefits of a comprehensive overhaul.

When re-architecting software, consider the specific goals and objectives driving the modernization, such as improving performance, scalability, or aligning with new technologies. Assess the existing codebase to identify areas of technical debt, inefficiencies, and outdated components that need attention.

Start by conducting a thorough analysis of the existing system to identify key areas for improvement and prioritize changes based on business goals. Consider continuous testing and validation to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of the evolving architecture. Finally, prioritize clear communication and collaboration among team members, stakeholders, and end-users to facilitate a smooth transition and address any challenges.

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Re-Architecting Legacy Applications: Main Risks & BenefitsWhat Is Legacy Application Re-Architecting?How Can Your Legacy Application Benefit from Re-Architecting?When You Should Consider Re-architect A Legacy SoftwarePotential Risks Involved in Legacy Software Re-ArchitectingWhat Sets Legacy Application Re-Architecting Apart from Other Modernization Approaches?Modernize Your Architecture with IntegrioFAQ

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