As every IT manager knows, legacy systems have both benefits and drawbacks.
The large benefit of legacy systems is that, in general, they work. They have stood the test of time and that helps your organisation to run smoothly.
Nothing beats that.
The drawbacks are also known and can be split into three areas:
- It becomes more and more difficult to incorporate upcoming business needs into the system. Your company or organisation falls behind others.
- The costs of maintaining your system become higher and higher while the costs of software development only reduce for organisations with modern development environments.
- Eventually, you will be arriving at a brick wall.
New hardware or operating systems can not be supported or there are simply no developers available anymore that know your systems or that are proficient in your programming language.
Low-code offers a fast solution.
No-code development has often been frowned upon by professional IT specialists. And quite rightly so. There is a reason why your organisation uses legacy systems: over time, they have adapted to ever-changing business needs. And no-code systems are simply not flexible enough to deal with that.
Low-code forms the solution for that. With low-code application platforms (LCAP) you can still achieve the impressive productivity of a no-code development, but it is easy to add or integrate customized code to meet your objectives. Often you can even integrate existing specialised algorithms while the new environment enables you to meet the demands of the future.
Using your own specialists.
When replacing legacy systems, our advice is always to not let a new system be developed by an outside organisation but to benefit from people who are familiar with your applications and train them in a modern development platform.
Outside developers who are already proficient in the new environment can then help them to set up a system that makes use of your existing datasets (or a copy thereof) and that already includes most user interfaces and the standard data processing.
But, as mentioned, there is a reason why you are still using your legacy systems, and that is because they work. And only your existing developers know why and how they work. Therefore, once the base system is set up, we advise that your existing developers participate or take over.
When getting a legacy system ready for the future, we prefer to minimize the disruption for the users. And the best people to do that, are the people that are familiar with your current system.
Knowing both worlds
As mentioned, the first step is to set up the new environment. To define the user screens with modern tools, ensure that the databases can be addressed, that all basic data processing is working and that the data security is set up.
The next step is ensuring that the specific functionality of your legacy system becomes available in the new system. Preferably this involves developers who are familiar with both the original coding language and the new development environment.
By copying and porting code, or by reprogramming functionality, they can ensure that the new system follows the same algorithms, procedures and calculations as your legacy systems.
And because these developers enjoy the benefits of a low-code environment, they can do this in much less time than you are used to.
Example: APPX towards VINYL
At Lowcode4all we specialise in migrating applications that were developed in the 4th generation language APPX. We move them to the award-winning VINYL no-code/low-code environment. The procedures we use for that can act as a blue-print for migrating from other legacy systems.
We follow the following steps:
- Connect VINYL to (a copy of) the existing database of the APPX applications.
- Copy or re-build the existing menus, the data-entry screens and the basic data processing in VINYL.
This is done to provide current end-users with a familiar system so that they experience a smooth transfer to the new environment.
Because of VINYL’s approach towards application development, this step can be completed in an impressively short period of time.
- Setup data-security for the testers.
Integrity and access to data should at all times meet the standards and regulations of the organisation.
- Compare and ensure, side-by-side, the functionality of each action on both the legacy system and the new system.
Preferably this is done by specialists that are familiar with both languages and should in its final phase include end-users who are familiar with the daily operation of the legacy system.
To ensure minimum disruption when the new system replaces the legacy system, Lowcode4all can train your existing developers in VINYL application development and provide them guidance throughout the complete project.
That way, your existing people will also be able to benefit from the productivity of your new environment in:
- implementing new functionality
- reducing your costs of operation
- benefiting from new devices and operating systems and
- meeting the challenges of the market.