Migrating Your Legacy Application to the Cloud

Before we break down the mechanics of who uses a legacy system, and the advantages of migrating your legacy application to the cloud, let’s talk about what a legacy system is and if you are currently using one, why you should proceed with caution.

What is a legacy system?

A legacy system is an umbrella term used to describe outdated corporate systems and IT infrastructure that has been in use for a long time, often past its intended lifespan, and may no longer be efficient or compatible with modern technology. For example, legacy systems in universities could include old hardware, operating systems, software applications, or databases that were implemented years or even decades ago but have not been updated or replaced with newer technologies.

Who is using legacy applications?

Academic institutions: Many educational institutions, including colleges, and universities use legacy applications to manage student records, research, payments, and many other integral operations.

Government agencies: Government organizations at various levels, such as federal, state, and local, may have legacy applications that are used for functions like tax management, social services, records management, and more.

Healthcare providers: Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations may use legacy applications for patient records management, billing, and other administrative functions. These systems may have been in use for many years and may be challenging to replace or upgrade due to regulatory compliance requirements like HIPAA.

Financial institutions: Credit unions and private lenders may have legacy systems that handle functions such as core banking, customer relationship management (CRM), and transaction processing.

Transportation and logistics: Transportation and logistics companies use legacy applications for managing freight, fleet operations, and logistics processes.

statistics of the impact after migrating legacy systems to the cloud

What are the disadvantages of using legacy applications?

Legacy systems and applications can pose challenges due to their age, complexity, and potential security risks. They may require special expertise or effort to maintain, and update; they may hinder an organization's ability to adapt to changing business needs or take advantage of new opportunities.

Outdated Technology: Legacy applications are often built on outdated technology, which may lack the necessary features, performance, and compatibility with modern applications and hardware.

Limited Support and Maintenance: Legacy applications may no longer be supported by the original vendor or community, making it challenging to obtain updates, patches, and technical support.

Higher Maintenance Costs: Legacy applications can be expensive to maintain as they may require specialized skills and resources that are not readily available.

Lack of Integration: Legacy applications may not integrate easily with newer technologies or modern software applications, resulting in data silos, manual workarounds, and inefficiencies in workflows.

Security Risks: Legacy applications may lack modern security features and updates, making them vulnerable to security breaches, data leaks, and cyber attacks. This can pose a significant risk to sensitive data, and jeopardize compliance with industry regulations.

User Experience: Legacy applications may have outdated interfaces, workflows, and user experiences, which can impact user satisfaction, adoption, and increase training needs.

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    Benefits of migrating your legacy apps to the cloud:

    benefits of migrating legacy apps to the cloud

    As a legacy application ages, so does the technology originally used to build it. Often times developers and programmers involved in building an IT system move on or don’t have the capacity to maintain systems that they created 20 years ago. So, this begs the question: you understand your software needs better than anyone, so why shouldn’t you be the one in control of your system?

    Besides gaining total autonomy over the structure and management of your data, here are a few more reasons why you should find a web application software that’s right for you and start migrating your data to the cloud:

    1. Reduced Infrastructure and Hardware Costs
    2. Increased Speed and Efficiency
    3. Increased Scalability
    4. Enhanced Mobility and Accessibility
    5. Increased Security and Data Protection
    6. Improved Software Modernization
    7. Increased Productivity
    8. Improved Business Adaptability
    9. Increased Resource Utilization
    10. Data Backup and Disaster Recovery

    1. Reduced Infrastructure and Hardware Costs

    Your organization will no longer have to purchase expensive server equipment and pay for its maintenance. While you'll have to pay for the cloud resources, cloud providers assume maintenance and upgrades.

    It is a more affordable alternative to large on-site server farms, which are costly in terms of hosting costs, physical space, cooling, life-cycle management, daily maintenance, and employee hours. With the cloud, businesses can eliminate the need for a larger security and maintenance staff while reducing server costs at the same time.

    2. Increased Speed and Efficiency

    Increase the speed of your operations by modernizing your legacy systems. With real-time tracking, automated alerts and notifications, and speedy data transfer, your business will eventually improve its processes and deliver enhanced customer experiences.

    3. Increased Scalability

    Increased scalability allows businesses to adapt to changing market demands and user needs. This is where cloud migration comes in! It allows companies to efficiently scale their operations up or down based on their unique business plan and IT requirements.

    4. Enhanced Mobility and Accessibility

    Cloud-based applications offer high availability and support for modern user devices, so your systems can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere. This allows multiple users to work with data at the same time, thus increasing collaboration and productivity.

    5. Increased Security and Data Protection

    Cloud providers have built-in security features, such as periodic updates, security analytics, as well as cross-enterprise visibility that help block cyber threats.

    In order to reduce the risk of cyberattacks, reliable cloud providers regularly upgrade their services following the latest industry standards and complying with regulations. When properly executed, a migration to the cloud can be more secure than traditional network systems.

    improved security and data protection by migrating the legacy applications to the cloud

    6. Improved Software Modernization

    To update legacy applications to meet modern business needs, you can use strategies such as re-platforming or re-factoring. A real-world example of successful migration that resulted in software modernization includes GE's migration of over 9,000 applications to the cloud.

    7. Increased Productivity

    Every business aims to increase productivity. However, not every business knows that this can be done by upgrading to cloud-based applications. The flexibility, cost savings, and productivity of the cloud, in addition to boosting productivity, it will allow you to increase functionality and adaptability as your business needs change over time.

    8. Improved Business Adaptability

    Quickly adapt to changing requirements. No need for resource-depleting ordeals. With cloud-based applications, businesses can easily increase or decrease the resources allocated to their applications based on their current needs.

    9. Increased Resource Utilization

    Take advantage of modern database management, autoscaling, and other cloud-based services. This will not only let you improve resource utilization, but it will also help you optimize your legacy applications for better performance and scalability.

    10. Data Backup and Disaster Recovery

    By shifting applications and the data they are associated with to the cloud, this guarantees that data is routinely backed up and safeguarded from disasters like hardware failures or natural calamities.

    So that in the event of an unexpected occurrence, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions provide speedy and effective restoration of data and application services. It plays a role in minimizing downtime and guaranteeing business continuity.

    What are the challenges and pitfalls of legacy system migrations?

    Legacy systems and applications pose different challenges and pitfalls due to their complexity and potential security risks. Familiarize yourself with them in advance to avoid being caught unaware during the migration process.

    statistics of the cost reduction made because of implementing cloud migration

    1. Lack of Understanding of the Migration Process

    Without a proper understanding of the legacy system, you're likely to encounter some issues and pitfalls. This can lead to mistakes and delays in the migration process. For instance, poorly designed or documented legacy systems can cause complications during the transition. To avoid these pitfalls, you need to engage experienced technology experts and come up with the most suitable migration strategy.

    2. Lack of Resources and Expertise

    Remember that migrating legacy systems to modern cloud-based environments can be a daunting task. This is especially for organizations with limited resources and expertise. Inadequate staffing, insufficient training, and poor planning are common pitfalls that can lead to migration failures. With profound expertise and in-depth knowledge of cloud technologies, good software experts can make sure that the migration goes smoothly and without any technical issues.

    3. Lack of a Clear Strategy

    Just as with anything else in the business world, it's critical to have a clear strategy. Otherwise, you will face various pitfalls and problems. The lack of proper planning and implementation can cause delays and setbacks in the migration process. Additionally, legacy systems may lack the ability to integrate with other IT resources or third-party systems, leading to data silos as well as slow, laggy systems that provide poor user satisfaction.

    4. Poor Communication and Coordination

    Good communication and coordination are key to a successful transition to the cloud. The associated issues can lead to the inability to assess the situation correctly. This can result in unpredictable consequences for the entire system. To mitigate these risks, you (or your manager) should involve all team members who use or are affected by the application in the conversation and be transparent at all levels.

    5. Lack of Adequate Testing

    Unfortunately, many organizations underestimate testing although it can help identify bugs before they cause problems in the production environment. It's a crucial aspect of migrating legacy systems to the cloud. Inadequate testing can lead to significant risks for your organization/company. This can result in downtime and lost productivity, which can have a significant impact on revenue and reputation. So, make sure the system is functioning correctly.

    6. System Disruption

    The last thing you want to experience during legacy application migration is system disruption. If not handled properly, migration can give rise to disruptions to operations and costly consequences.

    • One major impact of migration is downtime.
    • Data loss is another potential risk, as transferring large amounts of data can result in errors or corruption.
    • Compatibility issues can also arise when integrating new and old systems.

    7. Inefficient Processes

    Migrating a legacy system to the cloud can expose inefficient processes within the system. How does it happen? During the migration process, businesses may discover processes that are outdated or slow. For instance, a legacy system may have been designed to handle a certain amount of data, but as the business grew, the system became too slow to process the increased workload.

    8. Lack of Cloud Compatibility

    You may also face compatibility issues, especially if you use outdated technology and software. This can lead to potential data loss or corruption during the migration process. Besides that, if you attempt to blend old and new systems, this will probably result in incompatibilities that require more systems or resources than necessary. That's why you may need to consider changing your platform of outdated legacy systems to make it compatible with modern cloud solutions.

    9. Technology Challenges

    Many organizations find legacy system migration a daunting task, as it involves a lot of technical challenges. One of them is identifying dependencies, which involves understanding how the legacy system interacts with other systems. Another challenge is proper testing and validation, which is essential for ensuring that the new system meets the organization's requirements and operates as expected.

    basic graph of proper testing and validation for successful migration

    If you don't know how to address these challenges, it's best to hire an expert. With profound expertise and in-depth knowledge of cloud technologies, good software experts are able to make sure that the migration goes smoothly and without any technical issues.

    10. High Risks and Costs

    Before migrating legacy systems to the cloud, keep in mind that it can be a risky and costly endeavor. This process often goes hand in hand with potential pitfalls and tremendous maintenance costs. For example, botched migrations can cost your business dearly in terms of time and money. Disruptions during the migrating process pose threats to the efficient work of the organization, its stability, income, and good repute.

    So, how can you avoid these risks and costs? It's advisable to assess and plan the migration project before tackling this risky mission. As a business owner, you should be careful when choosing the software company you partner with.

    Top 10 things to consider before undertaking legacy system migration

    There are a few things you need to take into consideration before moving to the cloud. Read on to discover them.

    1. On-premises systems & Microservices

    When you're migrating legacy applications from on-premises systems to the cloud, you are likely to face some issues with scalability, data integration, as well as hardware and software upgrades. Keep in mind that legacy systems may be complex and require custom configurations, which can make your migration more difficult.

    To ensure a smooth transition, try to identify which applications should remain on-premises and which should be migrated. A Private Cloud environment may be helpful in enabling legacy applications to run unmodified. Make sure proper backups are in place and your employees are trained on the new system as well.

    In addition to on-premises systems, you also need to consider microservices. They play a critical role in migrating legacy systems to modern architectures. Why is it important? Breaking down monolithic applications into smaller, independent services can increase flexibility, scalability, and maintainability. 

    2. Cloud systems & platforms

    In addition to being familiar with the different types of cloud systems (like public, private, and hybrid clouds), you also need to understand how they suit different types of legacy applications. Select a cloud provider based on factors such as security, compliance, and performance. Also, consider testing and optimizing legacy applications on the cloud. It is crucial to ensure seamless performance and scalability.

    Be careful when choosing a cloud platform for legacy application migration. Consider factors such as the cloud model (public, private, or hybrid), the provider's market share, and the complexity of the migration process. You should also consider the compatibility of the chosen platform with the legacy application. Once you have narrowed down your choices, take the time to evaluate the advantages and drawbacks of each platform.

    Another important factor that should be taken into consideration is cloud interoperability. It is essential for successful legacy system migration to the cloud environment. Developing a cloud migration strategy for legacy applications requires careful planning and assessment.

    3. Integration tools

    It is not uncommon for companies to face challenges in connecting old systems with new ones when migrating legacy applications to the cloud. This is where data integration tools come in handy. Astera Centerprise Data Integrator, Talend Data Integrator, and Fivetran Data Integrator are some of the most popular tools that can help extract data from legacy systems and get everything ready for final migration to the cloud. That is not to say you shouldn't try other tools, too.

    There's a diverse range of software development tools to choose from. Obviously, you want to choose the ones that best fit the project's needs to ensure a successful transition. The following are some popular software development tools.

    • Version control systems, such as Git or SVN, play a critical role in managing code changes and tracking progress.
    • Testing frameworks, such as Selenium or JUnit, ensure that the migrated system functions properly.
    • Code analysis tools, such as SonarQube or Checkmarx, can be used to detect and fix code quality issues and security vulnerabilities.

    4. Software architecture

    The next thing you need to consider when migrating legacy applications to the cloud is the software architecture to ensure a successful transition. Remember that this involves assessing the existing infrastructure and legacy systems, understanding their functionality, and selecting the appropriate migration strategy.

    Once you have determined the best database application software solutions, you will also need to prioritize software upgrades to ensure the security and functionality of the new system. Outdated software is more susceptible to cyber-attacks and lacks the latest security patches, putting the entire business at risk.

    That said, it is worth investing in software upgrades as part of the legacy system migration process. Upgrading software can also address compatibility issues, enable greater functionality, and improve performance.

    basic graph showing software updates

    5. Hardware resources
    Don't rush into moving your legacy application to the cloud. You should evaluate the current hardware resources being used by the application first. This includes assessing the CPU, memory, storage, architecture, system performance, and networking resources.

    Evaluating these resources will help you determine if they are adequate for the cloud environment or if modifications need to be made. Additionally, it's essential to ensure that the dedicated hardware guarantees virtualization and compatibility with new systems.

    Be prepared for potential issues or challenges that may arise during the migration process, which may affect the performance of your application. Don't let them catch you by surprise. Identify any potential limitations or bottlenecks that may affect your migration, such as outdated hardware and insufficient storage capacity or memory.

    6. System dependencies

    Have you ever heard of system dependencies? It refers to the components that the legacy application relies on to function correctly, such as databases, software libraries, and hardware components. Try to identify these dependencies to prevent any unpredictable consequences that may arise from updating one part of the application.

    It is a good idea to perform a thorough audit of the legacy system, including the system requirements, inputs, outputs, and interactions with other cloud-based services. Failure to identify these dependencies can lead to extended downtime, broken connections, and loss of critical data.

    7. Database management systems

    Also, you need to consider database management systems (DBMS) before transferring your legacy application to the cloud. Bear in mind that migrating DBMS to the cloud can be challenging as it requires the transformation of data formats, cleaning of data, and ensuring the safe extraction of existing data.

    How can you address these challenges? While there are different options available, you may use popular cloud-based DBMS systems that offer features such as automated backups, high availability, and scalability, such as:

    To select and implement the right database management system, you need to consider factors such as data volume, system compatibility, and user requirements. After conducting a thorough assessment of the existing system, you need to develop a comprehensive migration plan and test the new system extensively before deployment.

    8. Legacy Application Migration Strategies & Options

    Legacy system migration is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution to avoid disrupting business operations. You need to check out all the options available. To undertake a successful migration, it's crucial to analyze the system's infrastructure needs, dependencies, integrations, data requirements, security, and compliance policies.

    Once you've evaluated your legacy system, prepare and test your migration plan, and back up your data to prevent loss during the migration. The process of legacy application migration will be explained in detail later on. Now, it is worth mentioning that there are 6 main options. Migration can be done through rehosting, re-platforming, refactoring, repurchasing, retiring, and retaining.

    1. Rehosting involves transferring the application and its data to the cloud without redesigning it. This is usually the quickest and cheapest option but may not fully utilize the benefits of the cloud.
    2. Re-platforming is the process of moving the application to a new platform, such as moving from on-premise to the cloud. It involves making some changes to the application to optimize it for the cloud environment.
    3. Refactoring involves redesigning the application's internal structure while preserving its external behavior. Even though this is a more time-consuming and expensive option, it can lead to significant improvements in performance and efficiency.
    4. Repurchasing is a migration strategy that involves replacing the legacy system with a cloud-based application that provides similar functionality.
    5. Retiring, as its name implies, involves decommissioning the legacy system entirely.
    6. Retaining refers to the approach of transferring an existing legacy application to a new platform or environment while preserving its core functionalities and value.

    Take a look at the table below to find out what situations each of these options/strategies is suitable for.

    Legacy Application Migration Option Suitability of the Migration Option
    Rehosting This option is ideal when the system fails to function properly or becomes outdated, and there is a need to move to more advanced technology.
    Re-platforming It is useful when the organization's policies are remodeled, and legacy software no longer supports business ventures or satisfies customer demands.
    Refactoring This option is suitable when the limitations of the legacy system are holding back the organization from adapting to evolving business and user needs.
    Repurchasing It is a good option for businesses looking to modernize their systems without investing in significant development costs.
    Retiring This is a good option for businesses that no longer require the functionality provided by the legacy system.
    Retaining It is suitable when the app functionality is still relevant, but the underlying infrastructure or technology should be updated to meet new requirements.

    9. Business Needs & Budget

    You want to choose a cloud integration strategy that best fits your business needs and goals. So, be sure to understand them clearly before moving to the Cloud. This understanding will help determine the scope of the migration and ensure that it aligns with the overall strategy of the organization.

    There are several key factors that should be considered when evaluating business needs, including the current business processes and workflows, the required functionalities of the legacy system, and potential cost savings. By considering these factors, you will ensure that the migration will deliver value to your organization.

    You also need to develop an appropriate project schedule. It is crucial when undertaking a legacy system migration to make sure your project stays on track and meets its goals within the specified timeframe and budget. The schedule should include a timeline, budget, and anticipated results, as well as tasks and milestones for each phase of the migration.

    10. Partner Resources

    Last but not least, you need to check all the partner resources before migrating your legacy systems to the cloud. It goes without saying that you want to partner with a company that specializes in cloud migration services. These companies can provide expertise and support throughout the entire migration process, from evaluating current infrastructure to monitoring and optimizing applications post-migration. 

    Tips for migrating your legacy applications to the cloud

    Migrating legacy applications to the cloud requires careful planning, execution, and monitoring. Following these tips can help you navigate the migration process more effectively and increase the chances of a successful outcome.

    Here are some helpful tips for migration:

    • Define migration goals: Clearly define your migration goals, such as improving scalability, enhancing security, or reducing costs. This will help you prioritize tasks and make informed decisions throughout the migration process.
    • Choose the right cloud provider: Research and select a cloud provider that best meets your organization's needs in terms of features, pricing, performance, and compliance requirements. Consider factors such as data sovereignty, data residency, and data transfer costs.
    • Ensure security and compliance: Consider security and compliance requirements during the migration process. Implement appropriate security measures, such as data encryption, identity and access management, and network security, to protect your data and applications in the cloud.
    • Train your team: Provide training to your IT team and end-users on how to operate and manage the cloud environment effectively. This includes understanding cloud concepts, managing cloud resources, and monitoring cloud-based applications.
    • Seek expert assistance: If you lack in-house expertise or experience with cloud migration, consider seeking assistance from cloud consultants or managed service providers who can provide guidance and expertise throughout the migration process.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Legacy application migration refers to the process of transferring outdated or obsolete software applications to a modern cloud environment. It is intended to improve application performance, compliance, cost, and security. However, the migration process may require significant reworking depending on the application.

    Migrating legacy applications to the cloud involves several steps to ensure a smooth transition.

    1. Firstly, assess the current application's infrastructure needs, dependencies, integrations, data requirements, security, and compliance policies.
    2. Secondly, create a list of software currently in use and determine which applications provide value to the business and which do not.
    3. Thirdly, choose a suitable cloud provider and select a migration strategy.
    4. Fourthly, run a pilot migration process followed by an incremental migration of the complete system.
    5. Fifthly, test and validate the migrated application to ensure it meets the desired performance, security, and compliance standards.
    6. Finally, implement a maintenance plan to ensure the application continues to operate smoothly in the cloud.

    A successful legacy application migration to the cloud requires proper planning and implementation, with input from business minds and experienced technology experts. It's crucial to identify the right migration strategy, considering factors such as infrastructure needs, dependencies, integrations, data requirements, security, and compliance policies. Bear in mind that ongoing monitoring and optimization post-migration are necessary to ensure the application is running smoothly.

    Some of these risks include disruptions to business processes, system breakdowns, and budget overruns. Poorly designed legacy systems can also lead to complications during the transition. To mitigate these risks, it's important to partner with a software development and cloud migration team with expertise in cloud technologies.

    During a legacy application migration, several types of data need to be migrated to ensure a successful transition. These data types include:

    • Existing data that needs to be extracted safely
    • Data that needs to be transformed to match the new formats
    • Cleaned data to avoid potential quality issues such as incomplete, duplicated, or improperly formatted data
    • A set of data to import and test for errors before loading all data into the new system

    The cost varies depending on several factors, such as the application size, the complexity of the migration process, and the chosen migration approach. Despite the initial costs, migrating to the cloud can significantly boost productivity and save money on maintenance and support services in the long run. So, it's worth investing in legacy application migration.

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