The Cost of Your Legacy System

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The Cost of Your Legacy System

Companies play smart, and they're well aware of the disadvantages and risks of keeping legacy systems or outdated technology in their workflow. Despite that, many don't do anything about it. 


Because doing nothing is affordable.

Phasing out a legacy system that your business has relied on for over a decade is a major undertaking. Leaving it in place for as long as possible typically proves more cost-effective than immediate migration, even with potentially severe risks considered.

Did you know you can generate a full-featured, documented, and secure REST API in minutes using DreamFactory? Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how! Our guided tour will show you how to create an API using an example database provided to you as part of the trial!

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You want something better though: something future-proof, safe, modern, and cost-effective. With DreamFactory, you can modernize your legacy system: protect it with modern access, proper security, business insights, and more, all without writing any code. Sign up free for a 14-day hosted trial to learn how.

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What is a Legacy System?

Legacy is a dreaded word in the engineering world and for a good reason. As an engineer myself, we like to use interfaces that are intuitive, modern, and essentially easy to work with. Everything legacy is not.

If you'd like to read a more in-depth article about what legacy systems are, visit our other article, [What is a Legacy System]. Old technology no longer supported by its vendor can easily be labeled "legacy," but an important thing to keep in mind is that the world is always changing. Everything that isn't actively updated will become legacy, and that will creep up on your business if you don't keep it in check.

DreamFactory offers a user-friendly interface to manage more than just your legacy system. Even if your services are all modern, you should be encapsulating them under a single platform to protect your future. You don't know which services will receive updates in ten years, but with DreamFactory, you can leave that concern behind and shape your interface around your business.

Disadvantages of Legacy Systems

We've written a whole article about this: [Problems with Legacy Systems]. To touch on a few points briefly:

Legacy Software is not Modern

Rather obvious, isn't it? Your workflow suffers from services that don't support today's practices. Business is very competitive, and using old technology means that you will be lacking the necessary insights and efficiency to stay ahead of the curve.

Legacy Software is Vulnerable

The average cost of a data breach in the U.S. in 2019 is $8.19 million. New security issues are being discovered and fixed every day, and this requires constant attention if your vendor is no longer updating your software. If you don't have IT personnel to stay on top of this, you risk becoming the next victim of a data breach.

Legacy Software is Not Sustainable

It might be next year, or maybe ten or twenty years, where you feel that your legacy system is no longer viable and must be retired. This may come unexpectedly too, due to some irreparable security flaw discovered, or maybe it just isn't compatible with a new, lucrative trend. You should really start preparing for this now and not later.

Why Software Updates are Important

Many organizations don't realize the necessity to keep software up to date. This comes in different forms such as security fixes, new features, and compatibility support. When software isn't updated, it starts to decay, just like with anything that you don't maintain. Engineers call it code rot.

When you're using software that's no longer supported by its vendor, you're subject to this decay, and the cost to work around it increases over time, mostly in the form of technical debt. The more technical debt you have to deal with, the less productive your business will be.

New features and compatibility updates seem like something you can live without, but every day that your software isn't adapting to modern circumstances is another day where you are basing your business upon outdated, less efficient methods.

Addressing the Problem

DreamFactory is an effective solution to all of the concerns above and more.

  • Modernization. DreamFactory can automatically generate modern REST APIs and documentation with a click of a button. No code required. These APIs are coupled with the tools and features necessary to run a competitive business.
  • Security. Your data and service will be secured behind DreamFactory's best in class security practices.
  • Sustainability and updates. Shape your own API and stop gaining technical debt from working with outdated technology. DreamFactory is designed for business, and any services you manage with our platform, no matter how old, benefit from our updates.

Cost of Maintaining a Legacy System

There are direct and subtle costs to keeping a legacy system in your business. The subtle ones require caution as they are less upfront and affect the future of your business. For example, technical debt is a subtle cost. It might not affect you now, but when your legacy system inevitably cannot be used anymore, this cost will be substantial if you haven't taken early measures.


Everything requires maintenance, not just software. If something isn't maintained, it decays. A big problem with legacy software is that the one who needs to maintain it is you. The vendor no longer exists or no longer supports it. What's worse is that it's built using practices that are outdated. Should you require an update, only experts can create that for you.

That's not practical, and an unfortunate truth is that many companies are simply living with vulnerable systems. The best defense they have is pretending the problems don't exist. It's a risk they accept because proper maintenance is not affordable.

IT Staff

With the average salary of an IT expert reaching into the six-figure range (especially engineers that know how to work with old technology), can you afford it? Chances are that you don't have the luxury of being an IT company yourself.

When I'm consulting with someone about the cost of building software, I make something very clear: it's too expensive to build software for yourself. Unless you have a huge organization to benefit from what you build or a list of client companies that will be interested in purchasing licenses, you will never get ahead of the cost of development and maintenance.

Delegation is important in the software industry just as it is anywhere. Picture this: you want to build a home and you need lumber. Do you purchase some from the lumber yard, or do you construct your own sawmill to make it yourself?

With DreamFactory, you can take advantage of a user-friendly interface and 24/7 technical support for a platform geared towards just what you need. If you are a small business, staffing your own IT team just to develop personal software updates is absolutely overkill.

System Flexibility

In the modern era, you may notice a trend of software becoming more and more modularized. Instead of having large solutions that handle many problems, we're shifting towards smaller solutions that work together.

What that entails is that your budget isn't wasted on what you don't need. You can focus your operations using the technology important to you, and avoid supporting anything that is excess.

Legacy software is built with one-size-fits-all principles, and is most certainly less flexible than modern solutions.

With DreamFactory, you can eliminate the overhead of dealing with overly comprehensive software and provide a clean interface for your employees and clients, having all the flexibility you need to stay competitive.

The Cost of Migrating Legacy Systems

Systems that you rely on for over a decade root themselves deeply into your business. Even if you just have to move data records from point A to point B, there are so many uncertainties involved that can cause major drawbacks. The worst case scenario is encountering some issue that results in losing all of your data.

Another problem is that your workflows have become tightly coupled with the outdated technology. Moving away from it means tearing down all of your established processes and revising them.

Technical debt like this can get really ugly, and the longer you wait, the worse it gets.

Legacy Modernization Approaches

A good solution to most business problems is an incremental approach – don't do everything at once. Step one to addressing the creeping problem of your legacy system is to think about how to transition to the future, slowly. One way is to introduce a modern system to migrate to over time, eventually phasing out your old technology.

A better solution is to take advantage of platforms that are designed to make this easy. I can't stress this enough: when you build or maintain software for yourself, you are probably wasting a lot of your investment. Unless your software effort benefits hundreds – preferably thousands – of employees or clients, it likely isn't cost-effective.

Did you know you can generate a full-featured, documented, and secure REST API in minutes using DreamFactory? Sign up for our free 14 day hosted trial to learn how! Our guided tour will show you how to create an API using an example database provided to you as part of the trial!

Create Your REST API Now

DreamFactory and Legacy Systems

Some engineers say that the best code is no code at all. DreamFactory offers tools to generate modern APIs complete with documentation without writing any code. You don't need an expensive IT team. You don't need to migrate anything, either. DreamFactory is a practical solution that allows you to focus on what's important.

With the ability to do this within minutes – building a usable, safe, and feature-rich API based on your needs – DreamFactory opens an easy path for you to start securing the future of your business. Sign up free for a 14-day hosted trial or talk with one of our integration experts.