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Issues with Legacy Systems and How to Address Those


Legacy systems are still a part of many companies since the time these companies started operating in the market. Maintenance of such legacy software requires much time and resources.

"66% of IT professionals reported that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed weaknesses in their digital strategy" according to AppDynamics’ Agents of Transformation Report 2020: COVID-19 Special Edition. These technology-related issues occur because organizations keep relying on legacy systems.

What is a legacy system?

Legacy systems are basically outdated software and technology that businesses continue to use within their organizations despite many problems they face with them. Often, the tools become so deeply integrated into the structure and procedures of the organization that employees and leaders alike don’t even consider replacing them with updated models.

The reason why people keep using older systems is the amount of time and resources they have invested into maintaining those systems. Also, there is the fear of having to learn new and unfamiliar tools. Thus the systems simply seem to be irreplaceable.

Yet these reasons shouldn’t keep one away from considering new software whose performance is far better than legacy systems rife with issues and in reality, upgrading them may offer more advantages.

Problems with Legacy Systems

1. Security

Cybercrime is on the rise. Hackers have become more sophisticated in their approaches, and data breaches, ransomware attacks, and cybersecurity problems are becoming increasingly prevalent.

An organization that depends on legacy systems is at far more risk from hackers than companies that adapt to new technology. Outdated systems are more susceptible to cyber-attacks. That’s because vendors prefer updating and upgrading their newer models, ones that have the latest iterations of malware and guard against issues. However, when we rely on old, outdated systems, we are unlikely to receive these updates putting our entire business at risk.

2. Expensive Maintenance

For many business leaders, upgrading software seems to be an expensive and uphill task. But in reality, it is far less costly than maintaining an outdated system. Upkeep of legacy systems is a costly affair--far more expensive than it would cost to simply overhaul your software and hardware.

Moreover, we can keep investing in older systems, but they will never reach the level of quality of newer models. Hence, we end up wasting money on technology that will never meet the standards we need.

3. Inefficiency

Workers find legacy systems slow in operation. Despite the fact that they have been using them for years and years, legacy systems continue to frustrate workers across departments.

These systems are characterized by long load times, lags, and much more. They might have been good at their work earlier, but with time softwares slows down. And as manufacturers stop releasing updates for older systems, there is no way to make the systems faster and more efficient.

4. Incompatibility

Generally, a business uses a range of technologies, some systems are new and some are old. When we attempt to merge older systems with newer systems, a host of problems arise.

It is a difficult task to integrate older and newer systems. These incompatibilities force one to use more systems than they would otherwise since newer models offer a multitude of features that support a wide range of processes.

5. Data Silos

This is an incompatibility issue. When you rely on outdated systems, they will fail to integrate among themselves properly and we end up using them in isolation. This is what is called data silos, meaning information is isolated within specific systems.

This is a huge problem for both small and big organizations leading to the wastage of a lot of time and energy. Employees often have to tap into different tools to find out what they need, while modern systems such as ERPs store this data in a single place.

6. Lack of Support

Usually legacy systems are no longer supported by their manufacturers because they are obsolete and not sold anymore. If there is some issue with the software, the vendor might not be able to troubleshoot it. We may like to receive support from third-party vendors, but even that will become more and more unlikely as the technology becomes outdated.

The only solution to this is to replace our existing legacy systems with newer systems which seem to be more complex for most business leaders.

We may like to create a list of priorities, considering which systems are the most troublesome to operate and could be solved with up-to-date technology. An expert can be engaged at this point who can suggest how to move our technology into the modern age. There are many qualified outsourcing firms who can assist us in this.

Thus, the advantages of upgrading our legacy systems are many: lower costs, better security, greater efficiency, the ability to integrate our software, and more support. The challenges discussed may not go away totally— but we should take action before they do even more damage.

Urvil Kaswala

Urvil Kaswala is a Solution Architect with over 15 years of professional experience designing and architecting business solutions. Urvil has worked with a variety of well-known companies from all over the world to enhance company performance through data-driven advancement.