An image of legacy software and technologies
February 25, 2021 / in IT Trends, Software Development,


According to a recent survey, legacy technologies account for 30% of most organization's systems. Two-thirds of senior IT decision-makers believe that older software is not fit for purpose. And 80% think that not modernizing IT systems will impact long-term growth.

This article examines the true costs of legacy software. Read on to discover the risks of legacy software in the modern workplace. And how upgrading to new technologies is safer and more cost-effective.

Legacy Technology Meaning

Legacy technologies describe out-of-date systems that cannot work within the modern business world.That includes mainframe computers using operating systems from thirty years ago. Or manufacturing machines running an ancient version of MS-DOS.

Unlike the more positive association of a person's legacy, IT legacy tech means outdated systems. They once did a job well but can no longer keep pace with today's rapidly moving marketplace.

Problems and Examples of Legacy Software

To highlight the main problems associated with legacy software, look no further than the impact of COVID-19. Due to the surge in the rate of unemployment, government systems have become overloaded. Colorado's backend software written in COBOL was unable to process new benefit requests last year.

Recently unemployed workers couldn't add their details leading to payment issuing problems. With the lack of COBOL operators, the failures took a long time to fix, making the dilemma worse.

The risks of legacy software affect banks too. RBS saw many of its systems crash due to legacy technologies. Customers were unable to withdraw cash as older tech couldn't keep up with demand.

Costs of Legacy Software

There are at least 3 main costs associated with running legacy software:

Maintenance of hardware
Software patches and updates
Ongoing developer costs

Legacy hardware uses older protocols that often don't interface with modern networks like the cloud. Therefore replacing mainframe components becomes increasingly more expensive due to lower demand. Patching software also becomes expensive as systems get stretched beyond their limits. Tie that with irreplaceable aging programmers who charge a premium for their services.

Hidden Costs of Legacy Software

Beyond the hardware costs and developer expenses, legacy software contains several hidden charges. These showcase the problems and risks of legacy software in the modern connected world. That includes scaling to higher demand and working online on multiple platforms.

We've outlined 5 hidden costs of legacy technologies below.


1. No Mobile Support

Customers expect to gain access to critical data from their mobile devices. They can review their bank balances, check orders, and review their credit scores. Unfortunately, most legacy software can only share information on local office computers. The old system wasn't designed for the Internet age. And it certainly wasn't built to serve thousands of concurrent users. By denying customers mobile support, companies run the risk of losing them to competitors who do.


2. Poor Scalability

Modern SaaS apps leverage the cloud to offer an always-available system to customers and employees alike. They work just as well with 1000 users as 1 million as the infrastructure is designed to scale. The benefits of cloud-based integration don't apply to most legacy technologies.Legacy apps are limited in scope and can't integrate with the cloud. That means they can't grow in line with company growth. The result is stagnancy and a low ceiling where systems can only deliver so much.


3. Security Issues

One of the hidden costs of legacy software is that it constantly needs patching to fix security issues. Patches take time to implement as the code is no longer common and requires specialist development. In IT terms, the older the system the more vulnerabilities it has. Hackers have had time to examine the weaknesses and exploit them. Manufacturers no longer support older tech making them exposed to attacks. And as they're built on an older, unstable structure, the whole system could easily collapse.


4. Brand Impact

When RBS's systems crashed due to old technology the public reaction was one of outrage. Millions of customers went on social media to complain about its antiquated systems. It took years for its reputation to recover and huge expense to promote goodwill. Don't let the risks of legacy software impact your brand. Offer your customers an excellent experience by migrating to a modern platform. Instead of defaming your brand, they will praise it with their friends. That will lead to an increased customer base and better promotion of your company online.


5. Employee Frustration

The forgotten hidden cost of legacy technologies lies with your employees and their working day. How much time is lost when an employee has to wait for their screen to refresh? Do poor user interfaces cause frustration? Instead of working on slow applications that crash with high usage, offer staff a faster and more user-friendly experience. Migrating to a modern style reduces re-training as they're familiar with similar applications. Using high-speed cloud computing and SaaS apps makes the process quick and easy to use. The result is less employee frustration and a more productive working environment.

Migrate From Legacy Technologies With number8

This article has highlighted some of the costs of legacy software including the hidden cost of legacy technologies. By burying their heads in the sand, many companies continue to rely on out-of-date applications. Customers can't benefit from them, they don't scale well, and they remain potential security hazards. Yet senior managers refuse to upgrade because they don't have the internal resources to do so. Or they believe the costs are too high.

If you don't have the resources to dedicate internal team members to a software migration then number8 can help. Our staff augmentation model helps scale your teams with the experienced talent you need to upgrade your current systems. Get in touch to see how number8's nearshore and onshore solutions can modernize your legacy applications.

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