Mining and maintaining legacy software

The continued push for digital transformation. The fast-paced, ever-changing nature of technology. Between these two forces in the world of business tech, it doesn’t take long for older software to get buried and forgotten as a legacy system.

As such, any enterprise will have legacy software — and that translates to legacy value.

Old, but still useful, legacy tools represent a mine of forgotten value for enterprises. But how can you tap into — and keep — that value? How can you mine and maintain your legacy software?

Legacy systems

Before going into how to get the most out of your legacy systems, it’s worth confirming exactly what it is we mean by the term.

Legacy systems constitute old technology and methods — from software to hardware — that were and are used in your business. But now they’re outdated or running behind other, newer functions, software and equipment. (And in some cases, legacy systems get forgotten completely.)

Legacy software specifically is the older software that forms the foundation, or was part of, your systems in the history of the enterprise. It’s the applications you used to use, or that you’ve always used, even though they’re no longer getting regular maintenance or even direct access.

Mining the layers

Legacy applications can house business-critical data and services. For example, customer records. Or they may hold functionality that is foundational to your systems. The problem is, this means your legacy systems need to integrate with all the newer programs and technology in the enterprise, too.

In short, there’s a real need to mine the layers of legacy software that lie beneath the surface of the enterprise.

One option that may come to mind when the time comes to give your legacy tools a spring clean is a rip and replace approach. This is where you clean out all the old software, pulling it all out of the garage and getting rid. And then, you replace the important bits with new, up to date software.

This would mean that you’re completely up to date — but it’s messy and wasteful in exchange. In fact, a rip-and-replace approach could mean throwing a few babies out with the bathwater. You lose the value that the software brought. Plus, the replacement software may cause extra disruption as time is needed to adjust to the change.

So, how can you tap into the value that’s buried deep within your legacy systems, without rebuilding from the ground up?

Integration technology – mining and maintenance

The answer to the conundrum is to mine and maintain your legacy software with integration technologies.

There are a few different options available to help you unlock the value of the systems that got the enterprise going and keep it ticking over. These are API gateways, microservices, and iPaaS. Let’s look closer at each.

1.       API gateways

  • What they are

API gateways are a bit like the code equivalent of a receptionist. They’re a layer of programming that sits between a service and the client. So, instead of directly accessing different services, you send your request to the API gateway, which then gives you any needed passes and connects you to the requested service.

Read more: API gateways explained in 600 words or less

  • How they free the value of legacy software

An API gateway is an integration tool that can communicate with legacy tools. That is, they act as a layer between legacy software and modern applications, connecting legacy applications to your team, allowing for modernisation, maintenance, and use.

So, instead of accessing the buried software directly, you do so through an API gateway. This means you regain access and use of the programs — and by extension — the value they bring.

2.       Microservices

  • What they are

Perhaps one of the more disruptive of the options available, another way to reintegrate your legacy software with your systems is to transition to a microservices architecture. Microservices are single, modular services that, when used together, can create larger applications.

Read more: What is a microservice? A simple overview

  • How they free the value of legacy software

Converting to a microservices architecture means that you are harvesting the useful services from your legacy software and connecting them using APIs.

This is a process of legacy software modernisation, and as such, it involves a high investment of time and effort. However, the result is a robust, modern IT architecture, with the value of your legacy software unlocked.

A microservices architecture also means easier maintenance of your legacy software services. Because they’re split into modular services, you can perform maintenance on an element-by-element basis.  

3.       iPaaS

  • What they are

iPaaS is short for integration platform as a service. It represents another way to integrate your legacy software with your newer systems and unlock the value of old.

In other words, an integration platform as a service is a way of using cloud services to combine your legacy software with modern software.

  • How they free the value of legacy software

Using iPaaS, you can use modern, cloud-based offerings to power up your on-premises systems. This is because integration platforms as a service provide a way to integrate your older, on-prem systems with cloud-based software, creating a hybrid system that unlocks and boosts the value of your legacy software.  

Mining and maintaining legacy software

There’s value in the legacy software operating deep within the enterprise. Ripping it out and replacing those applications can mean losing out on that value. Be it useful data, or a foundational service that keeps the business ticking over.

The key to mining and maintaining legacy software lies with integration technology. By connecting the old with the new, you can unlock the benefits of your legacy systems.

Why not start today by downloading ThinkAutomation? With its hybrid automation gateway and in-built IDE for custom scripts, ThinkAutomation can integrate into any program – on-premises or cloud.

Download for free and start connecting your systems.

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