Technology is arguably the quickest evolving industry in the world. Pioneering breakthroughs can become obsolete in such a small amount of time that it’s imperative every business ensures they remain on top of new developments in technology.
In 30 years, Microsoft Windows has evolved from the 16 bit 1.01 system to arguably the most well received version, Microsoft Windows 10. Even if you do not take into account major updates, that’s 12 different versions of the operating system. As you’ll know if you use Microsoft, new Windows updates come almost daily and this gives you some indication of how quickly technology is evolving.
What is a legacy application?
One who understands the term “legacy application” may argue that it’s hard to give a succinct definition of the term. However, given the task, one could define it as an outdated application created for a previous version of the current hardware/software.
There is an on-going debate in the field that any application becomes a legacy application once the license agreement is signed because of how quickly technology develops. Although the majority see that as an over exaggeration it gives you some understanding of how quickly an application can become a legacy application.
The ongoing debate when it comes to legacy applications
Legacy applications are often seen by larger businesses especially as one of the most difficult issues to face in their IT department. Actually, there are many companies who feel that legacy applications pose one of the biggest issues in their entire organisation.
Far too many businesses have apps deemed ‘not fit for purpose’ on their current system. However, as technology has evolved and systems have been upgraded, using the same applications is almost commonplace, especially in SMEs where investing in new updates to software is not seen as financially viable.
Not only is it initially more frugal to continue using the same applications, but it’s also appears the least disruptive given the time and effort to not only migrate, but maybe also retrain employees on new practices.
Are you causing damage to your business by continuing to use legacy applications?
Having read the above, you may find it hard to believe that continuing to use outdated applications is actually detrimental to your business. While continuing to use legacy applications quite clearly seems like the better option on the surface, it’s simply not the case.
Essentially continued use of legacy applications can cause loss of business, slower systems or even worse a system failure, and a less streamlined working process. In fact, in the long-run, for a large majority of businesses, it’s safe to say that a company will not save money or time in the long run at all.
Why is this the case?
There are a plethora of reasons why legacy applications will inevitably cause your business problems down the line.
For a start you may have noticed that as applications age they become expensive to support. In fact, some organisations discontinue their support for older applications/systems altogether. For example, using Microsoft Windows as a reference again, did you know that since the turn of 2015, mainstream support was no longer provided for the original Windows 7?
Therefore, if you do come across any issues with a legacy application, and at some point you will, not only will support be more expensive, but you may find that it simply no longer exists, which could be very disruptive.
Add to that the fact that even if there is a support team and you’re happy to pay the price to fix the issue, it may be that your application simply cannot be repaired on your current upgraded system, nightmare.
Furthermore, legacy applications tend to be huge in size, which often causes them to be slow to use. In some instances, as explored above, they can disrupt the speed of a whole network. Newer applications have been developed to seamlessly integrate onto a system by creating a solution to a problem and then upgrading if there are any issues to fix.
Last, and maybe most importantly, the reason a company should update their applications so is because technology is ever evolving. Applications are always updated for good reasons, in many instances due to user feedback. Updates will either fix intermittent problems or streamline what is currently on offer to improve user experience.
What we can take from the above is that ultimately, in the long-run, the two main reasons one might give against upgrading are not true.
You do not save money or time in the long-run because getting from start to finish takes longer and support costs are higher. Add to that the fact that a legacy application could cause your system plenty of issues and you can see why holding on to legacy applications is not a smart move.