Legacy software – what are the options

It was a great honor to be asked to speak at the recent Bank Tech 2018 annual conference. A recurring theme from conversations I had is the challenge of legacy software and how to deal with the cost and exposure it creates.

All software code, will at some point become obsolete and hence legacy.

All this prompts the question – how do I deal with legacy software?

Traditionally, there are 5 main strategies:

  1. Make legacy look good – A frequent request. Add a nice front end and user experience to a legacy back-end This may deliver a quick fix, however you still have the cost and issue of maintaining the original code.
  2. Re-write your legacy code in a modern language/methodology – if you have the investment and can afford the time, many would say this is the preferred option. However longer term this creates more code that over time becomes legacy.
  3. Replace with an off the shelf solution – Pushes the problem to a third party supplier reducing your risk. However, you will be paying for that third party to maintain that code into the future.
  4. Replace with low code development frameworks – Reduces the ongoing costs and goes a long way to solving the initial time to market. The long term side effect of low code development environments is that in the end you still end up with the same amount of code, as these environments generate code for you.
  5. The do nothing scenario

The real solution is finding a way that dramatically lowers the amount of code and hence delivers:

  1. Faster time to market
  2. Lower cost of development
  3. Higher project success rates
  4. Future flexibility
  5. Future proof your software against technology changes.

SCAD Software uses a unique metadata driven development methodology that turns source code into data. The outcome is a 75% + reduction in source code.  This has significant benefits of ongoing cost of maintenance, speed of development and indeed reducing failure rates of new projects.

Short term this might be counter-intuitive for an industry set on producing more and more code. Longer term however it enables the IT industry to keep pace with the ever-changing commercial imperatives which will lead to great value enhancement.