Legacy Software: What is it?

Written by Ankit
3 mins, 46 secs Read
Published On February 17, 2022

If you are new to the computing world, you might be asking what is the legacy system? Basically, legacy software is outdated software that is still in use because it fulfills business needs. Most legacy software solutions are mission-critical and are connected to certain versions of operating systems, which are also outdated.

Legacy software will continue meeting the needs it was designed for. However, legacy software solutions limit growth. This is because the older technology of legacy software solutions prevents it from interacting with modern systems. So, if you have legacy software, what it does for your business now is all that it will ever do. 

How do you know if you have legacy software?

Many factors determine whether your business is using legacy software. Some of these factors are evident, while others might take time to identify. With that said, let’s look at the key signs that your business is using legacy software.

Incompatibility with newer hardware/software

Legacy software is very limited when it comes to hardware or functionality. One of the key signs of having legacy software is if your current hardware cannot run the software or if the functions don’t suit your business needs.

Not using data effectively

Legacy systems are generally built out of separate components. This means that each part of the legacy system only manages certain information. If this information isn’t properly connected, it can lead to poor decision-making for business intelligence (BI).

If BI tools aren’t used in conjunction with legacy services, you won’t receive actionable insights into how your organization can improve its performance and take on new opportunities. Since your managers will be unable to make informed decisions, your company is unlikely to achieve its full potential.

No room for growth

Another key indicator that you are using legacy software solutions is the lack of room for growth within the current system. If it doesn’t have room for new features or integration with other services, it could be considered legacy software because eventually, your business will need more capabilities to stay competitive.

System is slow

If your business has this problem, you will likely have legacy software. Legacy systems are very rigid and cannot be changed. So, your business might not have the resources to run faster hardware necessary for modern applications.

Expensive to maintain

Typically, you will find that legacy software is expensive to maintain because there isn’t a good IT staff in place to manage these systems, or they lack strong communication between departments. This means that if certain information doesn’t live within the same system as other data, it will be difficult for your team members and managers to access and use different parts of it simultaneously (in real-time).

Why do businesses still use legacy software?

Most software solutions are designed to last for years. However, since technology evolves very fast, most software solutions are rendered obsolete before businesses are ready for an upgrade. Thus, it’s very common for companies to continue using legacy software for years. The following are the common reasons why businesses continue using legacy software:

Existing data

If your business has been using legacy software for many years, you have a lot of data stored within the system. This makes it difficult to migrate all this information to another solution because not only will every piece of information need to be entered into the new system, but there might also be formatting changes needed throughout the process. This means that it will take a lot of time and money to complete, so most businesses don’t want to go through with the change.

Integration with other systems

Legacy software was often integrated with other systems built by separate companies at different times in history. Thus, converting one system over could require changing multiple other methods that don’t always support the companies that developed these legacy systems.

It still meets business needs

Legacy software might be old and inefficient, but if it still meets your organization’s business needs, then there will always be a reason to keep it in place. This is why many businesses continue using legacy software because they are attached to the results that are being produced.

Challenges of legacy software

Legacy software can cause a lot of problems for your business. The following are the top 3 challenges that legacy software poses to businesses. 

Increased security risks

Since legacy software is outdated, it lacks the necessary security features available with modern applications. It also means that your business might have to maintain separate security systems for separate pieces of legacy software. This makes protecting company information more complicated and expensive.

Compliance risks

Many businesses run into compliance issues because they don’t have the right infrastructure to control their applications. Without proper controls in place over IT assets, there is always the risk that someone could be doing something which shouldn’t be done or gaining access to certain information they shouldn’t have access to. This can affect how you can gather accurate data about what employees are using applications and who is using them when they are being used.

Difficult to upgrade and maintain

Since legacy software is outdated, it drives up costs because you have to pay developers to work on the system in place—this makes it difficult for your business to invest in new capabilities that improve productivity, security, or compliance.

It also means that you will likely encounter problems trying to integrate different systems currently being used throughout your organization. This can become very expensive, since every time there is a change within one department, it can result in changes to other departments that rely on data contained within these separate systems.