Unlocking the Value Of Legacy Applications

Lilli Salo
Lilli Salo
On Jun 30, 2021 11:30:00 AM

Feature image for blog postKeeping a web application up-to-date is a big challenge for any organization; technologies age, new platforms emerge, customer requirements change, and the standards for a great UX evolve. Modernization efforts are often catalyzed by a combination of these factors.

The demand for application modernization is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 11.6% up to US$16.8 billion by 2024. Through modernization, a company’s IT architecture becomes better equipped to integrate with technologies that are essential today, such as cloud services, mobile computing, microservices, and data analytics.

Demystifying legacy applications

Legacy applications aren’t necessarily broken applications. They usually form the backbone of the entire company and are used to run business-critical operations on a daily basis, such as databases or banking applications.

However, legacy applications may no longer serve the current, updated business needs of an organization and are difficult to integrate with current technologies. which can impact a company’s digital transformation strategy.

Driving factors of modernization

Outdated apps not only hinder companies from achieving the flexibility and agility needed to integrate with novel IT technologies, but they may also create bottlenecks and impact overall operational efficiency.

Other factors include:

  • Increasing costs - Maintaining legacy applications, systems, and infrastructures becomes costly in the long run, as bugs, errors, and security issues increase. These hidden costs compound over time into technical debt. For example, in 2017 alone, the US government spent $94.1 billion on IT, from which 75% was allocated to the maintenance of legacy applications and systems.

  • Falling productivity - Teams cannot collaborate efficiently when outdated technology isn’t interoperable with new hardware or digital systems. Valuable time is lost trying to transfer data manually from one system to another.

  • Poor user experience - Know-how in relation to legacy applications and languages such as COBOL and Natural fades with the retirement of boomers. This leaves younger employees frustrated trying to figure out outdated systems. Today, workers expect workplace technologies and apps to be at least equal to – or better than – the consumer-grade apps in their pockets. 

By modernizing legacy applications and migrating away from mainframe technologies, companies reap several benefits from improved process efficiencies and system performance. In addition, modernization enables organizations to implement cybersecurity solutions and create modern user interfaces that meet ever-changing business needs and user experience. 

Modernization strategies: big bang vs. phased

Before undertaking a modernization, it is important to assess which approach would be the most appropriate with regard to the company and its legacy applications. A personalized roadmap should be built to help navigate a modernization process successfully.

Depending on a company’s size, its strategic priorities, and the current functionality of the legacy application, there are different routes a modernization can take, such as a big bang or a phased approach.

Some companies opt for a big bang, which is a rip-and-replace approach to modernization where the legacy application is replaced with a new one built from the ground up. Benefits associated with this approach include minimized fatigue from frequent changes, and the fact that users aren’t required to navigate between two different UX styles.

On the other hand, a phased approach offers more flexibility and allows organizations to address modernization with as little interruption to business operations as possible. Moreover, the process can easily be put on hold if unforeseen priorities emerge.

The following infographic illustrates the differences between a big bang and a phased approach.

Infographic on migration project formulas

Vaadin's rich history in application modernization

Vaadin has delivered successful UX- and tech-driven modernization and migration projects for over 20 years. Whether you want to level up your end users’ satisfaction and productivity, or to future-proof your legacy application, we’ve got you covered. 

To learn more about our services or have us perform an assessment of your web application, please get in touch! 

Missed our Vaadin Insights event on legacy application modernization? Watch it here.

Lilli Salo
Lilli Salo
Lilli joined Vaadin in 2021 after delivering content for various international SaaS startups. She enjoys the creative challenge of transforming complicated topics into clear and concise written material that provide value to the reader.
Other posts by Lilli Salo