Woman working on legacy system migration

First things first  what is a legacy system? A legacy system is any kind of outdated computer system or software used instead of newer, modern systems. Pagers, landlines, and telegraphs are all examples. As you might expect, there are a number of disadvantages of legacy systems. That’s why many companies, universities, and organizations around the world are starting the process of legacy system migration. Of course, there are multiple methods of doing this, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

However, in order to maximize the efficiency of your organization’s technology, you must have some kind of replacement strategy in place.

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The Problems of Legacy Systems

Legacy systems are outdated software programs that are still running in organizations. These apps were once popular, but have become difficult to maintain and no longer meet the needs of the organization due to a lack of updated support and the introduction of new technologies. Legacy systems can be time-consuming to manage, expensive to maintain and upgrade, and difficult to integrate with more modern systems.

Migrating from a legacy system to a more modern system will be a difficult and costly process. The migration project requires thoughtful planning and a thorough migration plan. It needs to consider the current system’s features and capabilities, the capabilities and features of the new system, and the data migration process. Time is a huge factor when it comes to migrating a legacy system. The migration process can be time-consuming, especially if the system contains complex processes. Budget is also a crucial factor to take into account, as the migration of a legacy system requires specialized personnel and the purchase of new hardware and software.

The data migration process is arguably one of the most complex aspect of the migration project. It is essential to have accurate and clean data to ensure that the new system is correctly configured and any historic data is correctly migrated. This process can be even more complicated if the data is stored in different formats or systems.

Finally, an organization must consider the risk associated with the migration project. It is important to have an effective risk management plan to identify, assess and manage the risks associated with migrating a legacy system.

Migrate or Modernize?

Developers often talk about legacy system migration and legacy system modernization simultaneously. That’s because these two strategies are so closely related and both aim at the same goal: upgrading legacy systems. That being said, there are significant differences between legacy system migration, legacy system modernization, and cloud migration.

Migration involves the migration from a legacy system to a modern system. Now you might be able to see the similarities. The difference between the two strategies is that legacy system migration completely leaves behind the older system in favor of a brand new system or platform, such as an iPaaS. DreamFactory is a great example of this.

Modernization involves upgrading systems rather than leaving them behind. Whereas migration involves the adoption of new systems and abandonment of old systems, legacy system modernization involves upgrading and modifying the current legacy system.

DreamFactory has technology that enables both of these services.

Problems with Migrating Legacy Systems

There are a number of issues that can arise when your organization starts the legacy system migration process. The below list only includes the three most common issues. Depending on the nature of your organization and the specifics of your system, you may encounter more or fewer problems. 

A general rule of thumb is that the more outdated the system, the more difficult it will be to migrate or modernize it.

Issue 1: Legacy system migration can temporary derail business operations. One of the most common migration strategies is the “rip and replace” methodology of entirely ripping out the legacy system and replacing it with the modern system. This can result in serious loss of operational speed, which can be debilitating for organization’s that must pivot quickly, such as any fast-paced agency environment. Developers commonly circumvent parts of this problem through the use of API management solutions like DreamFactory.

Issue 2: Migration can be expensive in terms of both time and money. Business software is often quite expensive and moving to a new system often results in a brief period of overlapping payments while you finish out the previous license and the new one kicks in. While this problem is by no means solely the providence of legacy system migration, it is nonetheless an important concern.

Issue 3: Point-to-point integration makes it even more difficult to modernize. If you migrate systems through hand-coded point-to-point integrations, you can quickly find yourself trapped with the same system by a tangled web of brittle application architecture. A helpful way around this is to always use some kind of mapping tool, whether it’s a model-to-model tool or model-driven engineering tool.

How to Create a Migration Strategy

As with any business process, successful migration requires you to use a pre-planned strategy. These three steps will cover the gist of the migration process.

Step 1: Analyze the current state and behavior of your system. It is important to know whether it is the state, behavior, or both state and behavior that is causing you to seek out a new system or platform. The first part of any migration strategy should be to conduct a thorough audit, identifying the problem areas of the system. Oftentimes, that includes security and application performance, both of which stand to benefit from DreamFactory’s API management solutions.

Step 2: Determine the importance of modernization. Oftentimes, this migration involves the relocation of systems solely to facilitate more effective modernization strategies. Although these two strategies are often considered to be mutually exclusive, that could not be further from the truth. In fact, migration and modernization are quite complimentary. Before conducting the migration, check to see if any of your current system’s functions can benefit more from modernization. Certain kinds of PaaS solutions, like DreamFactory, can identify the proper modernization strategy and implement it at a far more affordable rate than traditional migration solutions.

Step 3: Reengineer for simplicity, optimize the stack, and take detailed notes. It is impossible to overstate the importance of simplicity when reengineering your system for migration or modernization. Migrating a complicated legacy software can result in architectural problems (like coupled applications) that are rife with security risks and significantly increase the difficulty and cost of future modernization or migration strategies.

Legacy System Migration Best Practices

There are a number of actions that you can take in order to increase the effectiveness of your strategies. First off, you can never do too much testing. The more data you have on hand, the more you know what needs improving, what needs to stay, and what needs to be left behind altogether.

Another helpful tip is to stagger your system’s migration. Executing the entire process all at once can result in a significant loss in organizational efficiency, effectively putting your entire business on hold until the critical parts of the system come back online. Staggering the process takes longer but allows you access to essential business processes in the meantime.

Lastly, use a PaaS designed to facilitate legacy system migration and/or legacy system modernization.

Migrating a legacy system to the cloud is a complex process, but can be successful if the right best practices are followed. Data migration is the first step in legacy system migration, and should be done carefully. It is important to ensure that all sensitive data is encrypted and protected, and that any modifications to the data do not affect the system’s performance or stability.

It is important to maintain the existing architecture of the legacy application. This ensures that the system is compatible with the cloud platform and that all existing features and functionality will continue to work properly. It is important to plan ahead and make sure that the cloud infrastructure is able to handle the increased load of the legacy system.

Lastly, proper testing should be conducted throughout the legacy system migration process. This includes testing the system before, during, and after migration to ensure that all data is transferred correctly, that the cloud platform is functioning properly, and that the system is ready for production. By following these best practices, legacy system migrations can be successful and provide enhanced capabilities for the business.

Post-Migration Data Strategy

After an organization has finished a migration project, it is crucial to start implementing an effective post-migration data strategy. This multi faceted strategy should be focused on integrating the data of the new system with the data of the legacy system, ensuring data quality, and developing software to support the new data structure.

Data integration is the process of combining data from different data sources into a single data set. This is important in order to make sure that the data is compatible and can be used easily. Data quality should also be considered, as it is important to ensure that the data is accurate and up-to-date.

Software dev is also a key pressure point for a successful post-migration data strategy. The organization should develop software and tools that support the new data structure and ensure that it is compatible with the new system. The post-migration data strategy should include a plan for long-term data maintenance and management. This should ideally include routine checks, backups, and updates to always ensure that the data is up-to-date and secure.

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DreamFactory and Legacy Systems

DreamFactory incorporates a number of different functions into a simple, easy-to-navigate platform. Through DreamFactory’s on-premise solution, you stand to gain increased functionality that is specifically designed to facilitate legacy system transformation strategy.

That includes helpful solutions like automated mainframe integrations for Python, Ruby, and other applications; generation of a full-feature REST API capable of modernizing legacy systems in a fraction of the time; and technology that extends the viable production timeline of existing systems.

For more information legacy system migration and modernization, consult with the experts at DreamFactory or start your free trial today.

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