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Legacy Systems

What Is a Legacy System?

A legacy system is a type of technology that's based on outdated operating systems designed to solve everyday operations. The term came about in the 1980s when referring to computer systems that set the standard for software of the future. Despite it seeming like the software is out-dated, a legacy system still functions to solve everyday problems.

The common characteristics of a legacy system include:

  • Not being able to receive support and maintenance, but  irreplaceable as it's essential in many organizations
  • Incompatibility with more advanced, modern solutions as it's based on outdated technology
  • Being unavailable for purchase

Thus, any technology that's unable to receive support or update automatically is a legacy system. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that old - even a one-year-old IT system can be considered one if it meets any of these criteria.

Why do legacy systems still exist?

Let's face it, legacy systems are hard to replace. Especially if they power important business processes in organizations. Ask yourself- Would you switch to a more modern system if there was a risk of losing or corrupting important business data? Probably not.

Here are a couple more reasons why businesses prefer legacy systems:


1. Legacy systems are familiar

Having a legacy system provides you with a feeling of familiarity and comfort and is actually one of the most common reasons to continue using a legacy system. Since everyone is familiar with how the platform works, the workflows becomes smoothing, helping organizations carry out daily tasks without meeting bumps along the way.

 

2. Legacy systems are efficient for specific tasks

Efficiency is another legacy software advantage. Some legacy systems, despite being old and outdated, still work perfectly fine. And most importantly, these systems are typically designed for maximum capacity and remain reliable and durable in most cases. Although they might be difficult to maintain, they are still efficient in carrying out day-to-day operations.

3. Legacy systems ensure continuity in business operations

Modernizing software or switching to entirely new technology is a delicate process that could put business operations on hold. Alternatively, maintaining the status quo (legacy systems) lets business operations run smoothly with no hitches or pauses.

4. Legacy system replacement is painful 

Tons of new technologies are currently taking over industries globally. However, switching from a legacy system to entirely new technology can be a resource-intensive task for any company. And when you acquire new software, you need to hire and train specialists to use it as well as consider all associated risks.

There’s always a risk that a modernized system won’t meet the business’s needs or that it will work even worse because of technological defects, and this risk often prevents legacy software owners from modernizing. At the same time, the wide variety of modernization options confuses businesspeople, who are searching for better results for a fair price.

5. Custom Solutions that work

When businesses started to go digital 20 years ago, companies created custom technical solutions specifically for their tasks and business goals. Those systems are still in use because they perform the needed operations and seem to be more reliable and exclusive.

Who Still Uses Legacy Systems?

1. Government Representatives

A study conducted by Dell revealed that more than 70 percent of federal IT decision-makers in the USA, Germany, the UK, Japan, Brazil, India and China use outdated software. Furthermore, half of the government representatives surveyed said that their legacy software has exceeded its end-of-life date. Curiously, COBOL is the most popular language among federal governments, even though it was initially developed almost 60 years ago.

2. Banks

Banking is among legacy technology examples as well. The Financial Times reports that a shortage of developers experienced in COBOL, the system that is driving most bank mainframes, will eventually force them to switch.


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Legacy Systems

October 14, 2020

Table of contents

Key takeawaysCollaboration platforms are essential to the new way of workingEmployees prefer engati over emailEmployees play a growing part in software purchasing decisionsThe future of work is collaborativeMethodology

What Is a Legacy System?

A legacy system is a type of technology that's based on outdated operating systems designed to solve everyday operations. The term came about in the 1980s when referring to computer systems that set the standard for software of the future. Despite it seeming like the software is out-dated, a legacy system still functions to solve everyday problems.

The common characteristics of a legacy system include:

  • Not being able to receive support and maintenance, but  irreplaceable as it's essential in many organizations
  • Incompatibility with more advanced, modern solutions as it's based on outdated technology
  • Being unavailable for purchase

Thus, any technology that's unable to receive support or update automatically is a legacy system. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that old - even a one-year-old IT system can be considered one if it meets any of these criteria.

Why do legacy systems still exist?

Let's face it, legacy systems are hard to replace. Especially if they power important business processes in organizations. Ask yourself- Would you switch to a more modern system if there was a risk of losing or corrupting important business data? Probably not.

Here are a couple more reasons why businesses prefer legacy systems:


1. Legacy systems are familiar

Having a legacy system provides you with a feeling of familiarity and comfort and is actually one of the most common reasons to continue using a legacy system. Since everyone is familiar with how the platform works, the workflows becomes smoothing, helping organizations carry out daily tasks without meeting bumps along the way.

 

2. Legacy systems are efficient for specific tasks

Efficiency is another legacy software advantage. Some legacy systems, despite being old and outdated, still work perfectly fine. And most importantly, these systems are typically designed for maximum capacity and remain reliable and durable in most cases. Although they might be difficult to maintain, they are still efficient in carrying out day-to-day operations.

3. Legacy systems ensure continuity in business operations

Modernizing software or switching to entirely new technology is a delicate process that could put business operations on hold. Alternatively, maintaining the status quo (legacy systems) lets business operations run smoothly with no hitches or pauses.

4. Legacy system replacement is painful 

Tons of new technologies are currently taking over industries globally. However, switching from a legacy system to entirely new technology can be a resource-intensive task for any company. And when you acquire new software, you need to hire and train specialists to use it as well as consider all associated risks.

There’s always a risk that a modernized system won’t meet the business’s needs or that it will work even worse because of technological defects, and this risk often prevents legacy software owners from modernizing. At the same time, the wide variety of modernization options confuses businesspeople, who are searching for better results for a fair price.

5. Custom Solutions that work

When businesses started to go digital 20 years ago, companies created custom technical solutions specifically for their tasks and business goals. Those systems are still in use because they perform the needed operations and seem to be more reliable and exclusive.

Who Still Uses Legacy Systems?

1. Government Representatives

A study conducted by Dell revealed that more than 70 percent of federal IT decision-makers in the USA, Germany, the UK, Japan, Brazil, India and China use outdated software. Furthermore, half of the government representatives surveyed said that their legacy software has exceeded its end-of-life date. Curiously, COBOL is the most popular language among federal governments, even though it was initially developed almost 60 years ago.

2. Banks

Banking is among legacy technology examples as well. The Financial Times reports that a shortage of developers experienced in COBOL, the system that is driving most bank mainframes, will eventually force them to switch.


Thanks for reading! We hope you found this helpful.

Ready to level-up your business? Click here.

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