A recent survey revealed that 92 percent of Federal Government IT managers think that security breaches, performance issues, service disruptions and threats to mission-critical capabilities are inevitable if legacy applications aren’t modernized in a timely manner.

This urgent matter is not specific to Capitol Hill. In fact, it’s very likely that your company or organization—private or public, large or small—is facing a similar crisis with similar consequences.


Many existing core applications in businesses throughout the world are custom-built, comprised of millions of lines of programming code, and are designed to support high volumes of data-intensive processes—perhaps billions of transactions per day. They form the heart of a business, containing rules and data that make up the intellectual property necessary for performing vital day-to-day operations.


As these legacy applications age and stop working as seamlessly as they once did with existing systems, data processing slows, downtime increases, and users become frustrated when they get bogged down performing the simplest of tasks.

In today’s business world, there’s simply no tolerance for inefficiency. Users demand instant access to information. It is no longer acceptable, for example, to wait for the system to generate a business report. Employees are pulling relevant information and creating their own reports on an as-needed basis. Likewise, when a new process or application is required, IT must be able to move quickly to deliver solutions that will run on any device—and in the cloud.

ICL System 25 1980s VME system

To add even further insult to injury, the longer companies wait to bring their applications up to speed, the more money will go down the drain to support and maintain older computing infrastructure—as much as 60 to 80 percent of their IT budgets, according to some estimates. The percentage can be even higher for federal agencies and other public organizations.

One of the best ways to stop wasting money on older or outdated software and ensure that your business stays current and competitive is by modernizing the legacy apps in your data center. Legacy, in this respect, refers to any application that slows your business as a whole by not easily integrating with other mission critical applications or software.

And, while some of you might equate modernizing with wiping the code slate clean and starting from scratch, or replacing entire computer systems, that’s not the case. In fact, this practice—also known as “rip-and-replace”—is oftentimes a company’s last resort.

Ford Modernizes

Back in 2004, Ford Motor Company looked to replace a collection of purchasing and procurement systems with a new web-based system. It looked good on paper, but proved to be a disaster once the new system was rolled out to end users. In the end, the project wasted the time of 350 IT staffers and cost the company as much as $400 million over five years. The company ultimately returned to its prior systems.

In hindsight, Ford would probably have had a much more positive and successful experience had it taken a different tactic for legacy modernization, which is all about application use and reuse, building on the strengths of the past, and combining them with present opportunities and future technologies.


When all that is said and done, previously clunky systems will run more efficiently and productively, while users will reap significant benefits in terms of ease-of-use, support, and the ability to access tools from any number of mobile devices.

Modernizing legacy applications can accomplish all of the above, which is why doing so has become a priority for many organizations and is expected to continue.

Research firm Gartner forecasts that worldwide spending on enterprise application software will grow 7.5 percent to $149.9 billion in 2015 and increase to more than $201 billion in 2019. The majority of funds “are going toward modernizing: functionally expanding or substituting long-standing business and office applications with cloud-based Software-as-a-Service.”

Efficient ways to modernize your legacy applications


This technique rebuilds and enhances legacy applications by using new technology – usually by adoptingService Oriented Architecture (SOA). This is one of the most efficient and agile ways of transforming legacy applications. It works by gathering requirements from existing legacy applications and redeveloping them on newer platforms.


If re-engineering or re-hosting aren’t options, then you might consider replacing legacy applications with commercial-off-the-shelf packages. This option focuses on building a portfolio with the best packages and components available from third-party vendors. However, reuse of existing legacy business intelligence is not possible with this approach. Some level of reengineering or customization of packages and rewriting may be involved in this process as well.

Migration to the Cloud:

Moving legacy applications to the cloud is a great alternative for many organizations due to the flexible nature of the cloud and its potential to reduce operational costs. By using migration technology available today, legacy applications can be moved from data centers into multiple cloud environments (or vice versa). Public clouds become an elastic extension of the data center, allowing both legacy and new apps to run seamlessly under a data center’s control, wherever they happen to be deployed.

Some organizations need to modernize their legacy applications to web infrastructures that will enable them to compete and provide improved customer service. Other organizations need to integrate their legacy applications using web service technologies and SOA.

As technology grows more sophisticated and organizations grow more and more dependent on their core business systems, it will become even more crucial that their legacy applications remain adaptable and maintainable.