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Ignore legacy software at your own risk

Sharon Florentine | Sept. 18, 2015
Software might be the most important piece of legacy technology your company has. It can be a competitive advantage, but if not handled correctly, legacy code could also could be your biggest weakness.

Invest in long-term quality

Savvy CIOs will understand that their role is something akin to that of a small business owner -- and that investments in the "overhead" of your legacy code and systems can contribute just as much to profitability, security and even customer satisfaction outcomes as new applications, new features and new projects. "You can look at this like investing in a house versus investing in a car. With a car, you maintain it so it's not dangerous, but no matter what, it's always depreciating and you'll always have to replace it with something newer and better. With a house, you make investments on structural improvements and upgrades because over time it will continue to retain its value and deliver a steady return," says Lesokhin.

Vary your portfolio

Having this varied and balanced IT investment portfolio allows you to address both the shorter term new, fast and quick apps and projects as well as keeping up with quality and security of legacy code and getting as much value as possible out of those investments.

One major financial firm, for example, uses a mainframe solution to run backend batch processing for all their checking accounts. The user interface, however, was designed and built as an application that runs on top of the legacy code from the mainframe. This type of deployment uses stable, secure legacy code and technology to power a newer, faster and more responsive user interface with very few bugs. "Now, all they have to do is keep up with the regulatory and compliance changes to the front-end user interface while leaving the legacy code on the mainframe alone," says Bobby Cameron, vice president and principal analyst, CIO practice, at Forrester Research.

"Yes, trying to modernize, that's important, but I'm not convinced you have to abandon the old stuff unless you just cannot make it work anymore. Chances are, given a little time, some effort and a budget priority, you can make it work," Cameron says.


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