Industry experts have been predicting the death of legacy assets for years, but many companies continue to struggle with obsolete technology that’s crying for change. However, with increasing implementation of API-driven microservices, service delivery platforms that incorporate cloud-native capabilities into traditional business applications and processes are now a reality. As cloud allows enterprises to make rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and automation, it is quickly becoming the primary channel for businesses to consume and deliver various digital services, all under one umbrella and free of the challenges of legacy applications.
Thanks to new cloud-based service delivery platforms, application architects now have a way of bringing together and building upon applications with transformative capabilities, without having to completely undo legacy application code. The platform also allows designers and developers to take advantage of the untapped value of legacy assets by infusing new data-driven capabilities into them and enabling multi-channel access. However, a few key considerations must be addressed before businesses can build, operate, and truly take advantage of such a platform.
Containerize legacy assets
Understandably, many enterprises are hesitant to “mess with” legacy application code that’s been running for years. If the numerous recent disasters resulting from failed migrations are something to go by, the risks can often outweigh the benefits if such tinkering is not done properly.
Modern service delivery platforms are able to avoid this by providing a foundational capability for containerizing all kinds of software assets, the first step any organization should take when looking to update or adapt legacy applications. Containers encapsulate an entire application/service component, including all of its dependencies, and therefore can be easily “contained” and managed. Thanks to such modular design, any tweaks can be made and analyzed in a safe environment before being implemented on a wider scale. This means that legacy software can be upgraded without running the risk of any unexpected surprises.
Enable service registration and discovery functionality
By bringing in a cloud-based service delivery platform, firms are able to combine and infuse modern cloud-native capabilities with containerized legacy assets. This means that the range of use cases for the assets can be expanded dramatically to enable multi-channel access or data analysis, beyond the limited capabilities that they were initially designed for. A well-designed service delivery platform would provide service registration as well as service discovery functionalities, which would allow legacy software to be meshed with cloud-native services and other containerized assets to give rise to composite services.
Reimagine business process flows
Once legacy assets have been containerized and merged with cloud functionality, the final step is to leverage the capabilities for transformation and increased efficiency in business processes. A cloud-based service delivery platform, coupled with well-functioning legacy assets, can lead to significantly more dynamic business processes, which can react to events in real-time and reconfigure according to new incoming data. For example, a legacy process for order processing that runs on a mainframe can be transformed to support new functionalities, like predictive inventory management, or develop the elasticity to support changing demand without a complete rewrite of legacy applications.
A legacy to treasure
While it is undeniable that companies need to quickly hop on the digital migration train, it is also important to recognize that their legacy assets still carry huge value. By making the shift carefully and with a view to extract maximum advantage from their legacy technology, companies can stay a step ahead of competitors that move too quickly and are in a hurry to redesign everything. IT migrations present the ultimate example of needing to make haste slowly, and cloud-based service delivery platforms provide businesses with the tools they need to make the transition seamlessly.
Madhavan Krishnan is Vice President and Principal Architect of Cloud and Infrastructure Engineering practice at Virtusa, a provider of end-to-end digital transformation and IT outsourcing services. He is an experienced technology practitioner with a strong business orientation with over 20 years of global IT industry experience in multiple technology and business roles. In his current position, Madhavan is responsible for competency development, client solution and providing technology leadership to client stakeholders.