Legacy applications and their effect on your organisation

It is common for those of us who have been in a job role for quite some time to have a preferred way – and set of tools – to enable us to complete daily tasks in the most efficient way we believe possible. Often the software products that we have all become familiar with are what the business relies on to function day-to-day. It is unfortunate that there always comes a time when those software products become a bit dated and not quite fit for purpose, leading to them being replaced by an updated version or simply taken off the market completely to make way for a brand-new programme.

The modern digital world of work is constantly evolving and changing, so you should be used to change – right? Yes, to a degree. Most businesses are constantly making changes to small elements of their organisation, but very rarely do they make alterations to the software products that their team enjoy using or the applications/ databases on which their entire business resides – this is deemed just too risky by most.

It is counterproductive not to make changes, though. Some think it will be detrimental to the continued success of their organisation if they change to new technologies from the familiar proven ones – however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. When a programme reaches ‘end of life’ this usually means that it is no longer backed up by the vendor and they are beginning the phasing out process, resulting in your business missing out on the security features, new functions, and general improvements which the upgrades would offer.

There are many different approaches that you can take in your quest for modernisation of your applications. In this article, we will explore what Legacy applications are, the problems they pose, and the options available to help you move forward.

 

Legacy applications – what are they?

A Legacy application is an information system that functions using dated technology but is a mission-critical part of your organisation, and is usually essential to the successful day-to-day running of the business.

In computing terms ‘Legacy’ means old. It can be referring to a dated computer system, application, or IT infrastructure that is still in use and serves a purpose but is widely known to be outdated and has been superseded.

But many are happy using applications that are seen as dated – after all, if it isn’t broken why fix it?

So, how do your applications become Legacy? Let’s find out.

  • When the operating system vendor ceases support

Operating systems and the software programmes built to work on that specific operating system version are a great example of Legacy applications. Often the application itself is running the latest version possible but the infrastructure it operates in may no longer be supported.

For example, businesses all over the globe have recently been shocked by the news that Microsoft will be marking their Server 2008 operating system as obsolete and announcing that it has – unfortunately – reached end of life. It will therefore no longer be supported or updated. This is an example of an app being made Legacy that is integral to many businesses.

  • When the business has opted to not upgrade by choice

Some businesses choose not to upgrade when the opportunity presents itself out of fear that it will be different, hard to use, and potentially affect the efficiency of the team members using the application. Industry-specific CRM / ERP systems, or perhaps common bookkeeping software such as Sage, can undergo frequent and sometimes costly updates. But by not updating you are unwittingly allowing your team to continue using tools that may not be as equipped – or as capable – as they could be.

  • When there is no newer version available

Some vendors, unfortunately, simply cease to exist or drop an application with seemingly no warning – they may be getting negative feedback, or numbers may be too low to make it sustainable.

Legacy applications may even exist in your organisation without your knowledge, therefore it is beneficial to routinely check your technology and take time to plan how you are going to move your business forward with modern supported applications.

 

Are Legacy applications holding your business back?

If you are still knowingly using Legacy apps they must be very important to the everyday running of your business. But using them once they have become Legacy can present severe operational and technically business-defining challenges.

 

Operational challenges

  • Lack of current practices

Legacy applications are keeping your organisation in the past. Due to the lack of updates that come with Legacy apps, your team cannot work as efficiently as possible or to best practice, which will lead to an increase in unnecessary manual practice workarounds, and also to an increase in errors. There are always newer, better versions available to run on the latest technology that will allow your team to perform their duties more efficiently, effectively and therefore with more benefit to your business.

  • Lack of common knowledge

When there is an application that was implemented quite some time ago, which has since become Legacy, experience and knowledge surrounding it will be difficult to find. As staff become younger, most won’t even know what the app is let alone how to use it – this could lead to you being stuck with an app that no one can understand or benefit from.

  • Lack of support

As we said previously, legacy apps are often no longer supported and therefore don’t benefit from updates – those updates that would normally keep the app safe and efficient, fixing bugs, issues, and security vulnerabilities. This ongoing protection is the only thing standing between you and a failure of the app altogether; without it you stand the risk of user efficiency dropping to dangerous levels and cyber breaches becoming even more likely than they already were, both of which will cost substantial capital in downtime.

  • Lack of integration

Legacy applications will lack the feature entirely – or at the very least partially – of integration with other lines of business applications or databases you use. This would result in your organisation remaining in the past, with very manually driven and separate processes.

  • Lack of compliance

When using Legacy applications legal compliance isn’t always a given. GDPR regulations, among others, stipulate current supported software must be used where the storing and processing of personally identifiable information is concerned.

  • Lack of remote access

A big part of modern worklife is, especially now, being performed remotely – but access to Legacy applications can be very difficult and not very cost-effective, and also deliver only a clunky, slow experience for your remote working team. It is hard enough to keep your team driven when in a remote setting, so why make it harder for yourself?

 

The technical challenges

  • Lack of infrastructural support

Choosing not to move to non-Legacy apps can eventually leave you stuck with apps that are vital to your operations but with IT that simply can’t run them. This can be due to hardware failure, operating system end of life, or you may simply need more IT assets to update your IT infrastructure.

  • Lack of security

When the vendor stops support it means all support – including security measures. You could be subject to a business-defining cyber breach that could result in your data being lost or stolen and, in turn, your business failing.

The use of Legacy applications in your organisation isn’t worth the potentially disastrous ramifications that come with it – use updated versions wherever possible and irradicate Legacy applications from your business as soon as you can.

 

Managing your IT landscape so you don’t have to

We are a Cloud services provider, so we understand the apprehension that many feel before making the leap to Cloud computing. We take the reins when conducting your transition, allowing your company to enjoy the advanced opportunities it has to offer. We are proud to provide top quality services to our customers, preventing business disruption that can be caused by tech problems. We can assist you in deciding what approach is best for you, a full transition to Cloud computing and all the positives that come with it, an on-premise managed solution, or a hybrid of the two – whatever the case we will be sure to establish the right solution for you. Alongside our expertise in Cloud computing, our experienced and knowledgeable team at Apogee Solutions perform proactive monitoring of servers and workstations, fixing problems remotely, and dealing with security issues.

Get in contact now and see how – with the right tools, and education around their use – you and your team can take your next step into the future of IT.