Outdated software can introduce various issues to organizations, from low performance and security vulnerabilities to complex infrastructure maintenance. Although legacy software modernization—e.g., migration to the cloud, reengineering of the system architecture—may seem to be costly and time-consuming, this pays off in the future, especially when updating is crucial due to multiple errors and breaches.

Data protection, high availability, scalability, fault tolerance, seamless user experience, and reduced expenses are those advantages that you can receive. Furthermore, professional custom software development companies can transform an outdated platform without downtime even when it is in production. In this article, we will consider seven signs that you need to modernize legacy software.

Signs that you need to modernize legacy software

1. Security vulnerabilities

According to the 2019 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey, 69% of participating medical organizations report that they used some legacy software systems in their work. Experts at HIMSS have concluded that the continued use of outdated platforms significantly increases the institution’s risk of being compromised. However, this is applicable across all industries. 

Legacy products are more vulnerable to hacker attacks, viruses, malware, and other threats. What was reliable five years ago, may not be safe today.

One of the primary reasons for lower security is that applications are created on top of the outdated technology stack and are not packed with security features. Therefore, a system becomes non-compliant with newer standards. As a consequence, it is much easier to steal sensitive data, which can potentially cost a company millions of dollars.

“Supporting a legacy operating system in your enterprise is as much about risk management as it is about traditional IT service management.” —Vijay Samtani, Chief Information Security Officer at Cambridge University.

“Legacy IT systems, some dating back to the 1970s, pose a significant business risk to all industries and governments. When we talk about business risk, we are not talking about negative impacts to staff productivity, but about the failure of systems resulting in a company’s inability to manufacture goods, to ship products and raise invoices.” —Bobby Ford, Vice President and Global Chief Information Security Officer at Unilever.

2. Inability to comply with security regulations

Compliance with various regulations such as GDPR is a top priority for institutions operating with sensitive data, involving enterprise, financial, and personal user information. Organizations have to ensure data privacy and protect software from unauthorized access, hacker attacks, ransomware, etc. If the existing solutions don’t align with security standards, you need to transform legacy software and provide compliance. 

Otherwise, you can lose millions of dollars due to data breaches or fines. For instance, fines imposed by the GPPR can reach 20 million euros.

When modernizing a platform, you should employ data encryption and incorporate features such as two-factor authentication and role-based access control. Regularly hold security audits of software and hardware. Hiring a software engineering company, sign a non-disclosure agreement to provide data confidentiality.

Learn the best security practices to protect your software and data while IT outsourcing.

3. Poor performance

Poor performance is another indicator that you will benefit from legacy system modernization. For instance, with transactions carried out within an hour instead of a few seconds, organizations are not able to provide quality service losing customers and income. 

Errors, glitches, slow page loading, time-consuming data processing are signs that an organization needs to modernize outdated software.

4. Lack of high availability

When a software system is partially or completely unavailable, it can’t perform the required tasks and address certain business challenges. This generally happens under heavy loads, for example, when the app has to process millions of requests per second or analyze massive arrays of data in real time. 

Achieving high availability and fault tolerance is especially crucial when the response time is critical. When the platform is unavailable, clinicians may not be able to help patients, financial companies can’t carry out transactions, insurance companies—track emergency cases and assist in their resolution.

E-commerce websites have to withstand high loads during Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays continuing to ensure an engaging user experience. As of today, just a 1-minute downtime will cost Amazon more than $220,000.

If a digital product used in your organization fails to process large amounts of data or/and handle thousands of requests simultaneously, you should partner with a trusted provider of legacy software modernization services.

Here at Arateg custom software development company, we often recommend our customers to decompose a monolithic architecture into microservices, each created around a certain feature or process. Since services are loosely-coupled, it is possible to ensure high availability and resilience. If some part fails to perform, this doesn’t affect the whole application.

5. Inability to scale a legacy software system

When the amount of work is growing, for example, the number of users increases, the app/website has to continue providing smooth user experience and high performance. Scaling software depending on the load is crucial for systems intended to serve thousands of customers, store and process massive arrays of data.

If you see that it is difficult to scale an outdated product, you should think about its modernization. At Arateg, our engineers ensure scalability by enabling a continuous deployment/integration (CI/CD) pipeline, employing cloud computing, decomposing the existing architecture into microservices, as well as using advanced technologies and other practices.

6. Complex infrastructure maintenance and high costs

When it is difficult to maintain the existing software, errors in some part may affect the whole application. Adding new functionality and updating the platform generally consumes a lot of time while ensuring zero downtime is almost impossible.

To address these issues, you should turn to a reliable provider of legacy software transformation services. Thanks to outdated system modernization, you can not only simplify infrastructure maintenance but also cut down expenses by 2-3 times. 

According to Gartner, organizations can reduce expenditures on hardware, software, and staff by 74% by moving to advanced technologies and reengineering their solutions.

7. Integration and compatibility issues

To ensure the effective business operation, it is essential to maintain high integrability of legacy software with other systems such as CRM, ERP, and HRM used in your company. 

If you aim to extend the functionality or adopt another solution, you need to ensure seamless integration with the existing software despite different technology stacks, internal processes, etc. Analysts at Snow Software and IDC Connect found that 62% of IT decision-makers are concerned about increased integration complexity with outdated hardware and software. 

Compatibility issues may also arise, especially when an organization employs obsolete software. It generally doesn’t support new file and data formats, only those that were provided in a certain product version. In case your customers, partners, suppliers, or other stakeholders don’t use some formats, it will be reasonable to update legacy software.

Saving $34 million per year thanks to system modernization

Recently, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to make an assessment of 64 federal agencies’ legacy software systems. Based on attributes such as age, risks, and criticality, GAO identified the ten most outdated solutions costing $337 million per year for operation and maintenance. 

One of them, the 14-year-old Air Force “System 1”—supporting the wartime readiness of aircraft—is built using COBOL and runs on a mainframe hosted by another company. The organization estimated that annual costs will reach $35 million in 2020, growing from $21.8 million in 2018. In addition, it was challenging for the Air Force to find employees able to maintain the platform code and infrastructure. 

To address these issues, the Air Force decided to leverage a cloud migration strategy while moving away from COBOL to a modern programming language. As a result, the organization expects to save approximately $34 million per year.


Legacy software transformation can provide companies with many benefits:

  • improved data safety and privacy
  • compliance with security standards and regulations
  • great performance
  • high availability and fault tolerance
  • increased scalability
  • simplified infrastructure maintenance 
  • reduced infrastructure costs by 2-3 times
  • seamless integration with other software products
  • compatibility of different file and data formats

If you aim to update an outdated system, contact Arateg software experts. They’ll get back to you within 24 hours and help work out a legacy software modernization strategy tailored to your business needs. The consultation is for free.

Software stock photo by REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock