Tired of Microservices and Refactoring? Check Out These Alternative Legacy Modernization Strategies

For companies not sure what migration approach will work best for them, we’ve created a comprehensive list of alternative legacy modernization strategies.

When it comes to the necessary steps a company needs to take to keep up in today’s fast-paced tech climate, updating legacy systems is an absolute must. We’ve previously written at length about the risks of addressing legacy systems too late, and now we’d like to explore the different ways that alternative legacy modernization strategies can work for your and your company.

As we’ve written before, a legacy system is a software, program or database that, while cutting-edge at one point in time, has become obsolete with the release of newer, more efficient versions. Some of the most common strategies to upgrading and migrating your company’s data or services to newer, more agile technology involve combining microservices with refactoring. We went on at length about these strategies in previous posts, and thoughtful entrepreneurs may then ask what she or he can do to modernize if these paths aren’t right for their company.

The obvious answer is to try alternative legacy modernization strategies instead. There are many approaches to try, and we’ve gone ahead and done the work of listing them below. What’s more, we’ve ranked them according the amount of effort and impact they’re likely to have on your company.

If you’re not sure the amount of resources and time you can devote to modernizing your legacy systems, take a look at the following strategies to get a better feel for which are best in your unique situation.

Low-complexity methods

The three alternative legacy modernization strategies mentioned here are ones that will cost your company far less in terms of the effort you’ll have to allocate. These are good choices if your priorities are more on product growth and development than infrastructure, yet still you would still like to make some steps towards partial modernization.

The first is called encapsulation. This is an excellent option if you’re wanting to reuse a large part of your legacy system’s components. The code is mostly left untouched, with most of the changes being made through wrapping. This effectively creates a new layer around the legacy code (through an API) that allows it to experience connectivity with new software, apps and microservices. While this will solve compatibility issues, it will not prove an effective solution if there are deeper problems within the code itself.

Rehosting is a modernization strategy that primarily solves server issues. Many companies take advantage of the cloud’s capabilities, and one of the first things they do is relocate their data (also known as “lift-and-shift”) from local servers and upload them to digital ones. This leaves the original code unaltered. On the one hand, this isn’t going to fix any deeper incompatibilities, but on the other hand your site won’t have any downtime. Business will go on as usual.

Replatforming is quite similar to rehosting, but with the main difference being some alterations in code. These aren’t major in scope – they’re just enough to help the legacy system fit into its new platform as smoothly as possible. Again, like with rehosting, your day to day business structures are interrupted as minimally as possible.

These are alternative legacy modernization strategies that work, as already mentioned, in cases when a few upgrades are needed rather than a full-scale overhaul.

Medium complexity

The main strategy of medium complexity is known as rearchitecting. The concept is very similar to replatforming, in that some changes are made to the original code in the process of migrating to a new platform. With replatforming, though, changes are only made if they are necessary for making the legacy code work in its new home. Rearchitecting implies assessing the capacities of the platform and then tweaking the original code so that it can take advantage of all the new functionality potential. Think of updating a database to the cloud and rewriting the code so that it’s now possible to share files via links, like with a Google Document.

Refactoring, a previous strategy we’ve written about, involves optimizing your code without actually changing what it does. It also belongs to this category of alternative legacy modernization strategies.

High complexity

The two migration strategies below involve the most amount of work and resources, and so they might be significantly more intimidating for many companies to consider. But with all the effort that goes into them, they will go on to have the most impact on your business’s day to day operations. .

The first of the two is called rebuilding, also known as redesigning. This is considered one of the more demanding alternative legacy modernization strategies because it means rewriting your code, components and applications from scratch. This allows for entirely fresh code to take its place, code that’s optimized to be forward-thinking and compatible with the latest add-ons and technology. This can also keep the doors open to new kinds of functionality and features down the road – usually when software is rebuilt, it’s done with an eye to make future modernization significantly easier.

By far, the most dramatic form of modernization is replacement. To be honest, calling it a migration might not be entirely appropriate –it’s more similar to building an entirely new tool to suit your company’s needs. This usually happens when the costs of modernizing a system or piece of software are too high for it to be of value anymore. This often is the case when the decision is made not to modernize until it’s far too late.

Choosing the option that’s right for you.

When it comes to selecting between alternative legacy modernization strategies for business, the sheer amount of options can be intimidating. But when companies take a closer look, they’ll find that their needs will be better serviced by a particular approach. Making sure that you know how to conduct a proper evaluation (or get advice from the experts who do) is key to having an optimization strategy that allows your business not only to make the jump, but to thrive on an exciting new platform.