Legacy Software in a Cloud Transition

Your company’s transition to the cloud can feel a lot like moving to a new town. You’ll be in a new space, learning how to interact with new entities, and learning new rules. Even the preparation for making the move to the cloud starts to feel like packing up boxes and delicately wrapping plates in newspaper as you assess your operations and try to figure out what’s most fragile. Plus, while you’re gathering belongings and figuring out how to fit it all in one box, you’ll likely be faced with the recurring conundrum of what you’ll bring along and what should get left behind. That’s where legacy software comes into play.

Legacy software has an interesting place in a cloud transition. 85 percent of enterprises today have a cloud strategy, but all of them were using solutions before they went to the cloud. Apps in the cloud offer increased agility, better spent time by your experts as they won’t be focusing on fixing time-sink apps, and cost effectiveness over exiting software. But how to bridge the gap?

If it’s not immediately viable to simply replace or rewrite a vital operation, a decision must be made as to whether this legacy software will come along to a new home in the cloud or be ditched for a newer and shiner application. If you’re facing this decision, here’s some of the things we usually consider.

What’s Worth Keeping?

A primary concern in transitioning legacy software is whether it even makes sense to do so. Some legacy software may simply not be compatible with any sort of cloud transition, depending on its age. Anything developed more than a decade ago is questionable at best. Many banks and financial institutions are still running on legacy software of that age, and experts are concerned that it may end up holding them back as they try to compete with blockchain payment companies like PayPal or Venmo. With the heightened complexity involved in digital banking processes, rewriting these pieces of technology is a huge undertaking. It truly comes down to assessing what your return on investment would be from the move. Does it make sense to hang on to your old apps? Or should you simply seek out a cloud solution to replace them, and connect them behind the scenes?

Making the Transition

In a cloud transition, legacy software has three possible fates. First, it can be rewritten, repackaged, bundled on your platform, and then deployed to the cloud infrastructure (Infrastructure as a Service, IaaS). Secondly, you can create a new app with the support of a middleware platform and match it with a cloud service supporting the same platform (Platform as a Service, PaaS). Lastly, if you’re lucky enough to find a cloud-based application already in place that can afford you the same functionality as your legacy software, you could simply drop your old data and start anew (Software as a Service, SaaS). Regardless of whether you decide to migrate legacy software, match a platform to platform, or simply try again from scratch, there are pros and cons to each approach.

  • IaaS
    This will be the most intense and grueling approach. While some software can use APIs to interface with the new cloud system, other applications will need to be completely revamped. You’ll eventually have the most control over your data as you will have literally created it all. However, the workload for your IT team will be nothing short of significant. Instead of writing an application from scratch, you’ll be forced to recreate the software entirely in the cloud, regardless of whether it’s compatible. Because your legacy software needs to remain intact for your customers, you have far less freedom when it comes to shaping or shaving the legacy application to work in the cloud environment. Make sure your team knows what their getting into if you choose this direction.
  • PaaS
    This is effectively the compromise between taking it all with you and completely scrapping your software. The platform model effectively removes server hardware and infrastructure and creates an environment for your team to build new tools and software. You’ll still be creating a new app, which will require a ton of work, but you’ll have a large amount of control. Unlike with IaaS, you can build new applications that are meant to mirror your old legacy system, as opposed to replicating it.
  • SaaS
    This could be referred to as the nuclear option, as it means saying goodbye to everything in your legacy software and seeking already created applications that meet all or most of your business’ needs. Selecting this approach will greatly reduce workload for your team. In fact, it will cut out the need to have a dedicated technical staff for installing, managing, or troubleshooting software, as the chosen software will come with its own paid experts for these very tasks. However, it also means you’ll be paying subscription fees in order to use it. If your company chooses to utilize a SaaS solution, it will be helpful to consider both functionality and cost-efficiency.

A cloud transition is an alluring way to increase efficiency and spend your money better, as it cuts out the need for dated software and physical hardware. But for many companies, the reality of legacy software transitions may mean some difficult decisions. Once you’ve taken the time to carefully evaluate your options, you may need some help in putting it all together and making certain it works best after you do. iLAB is an industry leader when it comes to performance testing and help you ensure your software is working comfortably in the cloud. Contact us today if you need a helping hand.