Step By Step Guide For Legacy Application Modernization

26 Apr 2024
Ditstek Blogs

Application Modernization

In today’s digital age, an organization’s system or software can either make or break the game, when it comes to expanding or getting a competitive edge. This means the software's capabilities to keep up with the dynamic business needs is something that can’t be ignored. This is where a well-thought strategy for modernizing a legacy application comes in.

According to IDC, most legacy applications will likely undergo modernization by 2024. And, 65% of these applications will likely leverage cloud services to improve the overall functionality or replace the old code. Clearly, modernizing legacy systems will be a prevalent trend in 2024.

However, legacy system modernization is a complex process that requires careful planning. So in this blog post, we will guide you with essential steps in building a practical application modernization roadmap and how to overcome challenges that come along with the process.

What Are Legacy Applications?

A legacy application or legacy app is an old or outdated software program. In simple words, when a system or software is no longer able to keep up with an organization’s needs, it is called a legacy system.

Although many large enterprises still use legacy apps, maintaining them is challenging. Legacy apps may also not be compatible with new browsers, operating systems (OSes), or IT infrastructures. For example, software made for Windows 7 may not function well on Windows 10.

There are several reasons for firms to continue working with their tried-and-true old software. In some cases, it might be too expensive to replace an old app. In other cases, the legacy app might also be so tightly integrated with other systems that replacing it would be a huge hassle.

Legacy apps are highly unstable, which makes them frustrating for users, dangerous for security, and a pain to keep up to date. To address these problems, more than 85% of C-suite executives prioritize modernization of legacy applications.

Tech Stack of Legacy Applications Include: 

  • C
  • Visual Basic
  • .Net
  • Delphi
  • Object Pascal
  • Fortran
  • Perl 

How to Identify A Legacy System?

A legacy system may require modernization if you encounter any of the following:

  • The software no longer meets evolving business requirements and objectives.
  • It does not get security updates
  • The cost to maintain legacy systems is too high.
  • The system causes errors.
  • Getting support for legacy systems is challenging.
  • It does not integrate with modern software.
  • A legacy system takes a while to load or run and has several redundant features that offer no functionality.

Are you experiencing the same while using your old system? It is time to modernize your legacy applications. Legacy application modernization involves adding new features to an old system, updating the IT infrastructure, and improving the architecture. This not only addresses the limitations of the old system, but also ensures that the system aligns with the latest industry trends, ever-changing business requirements, and security standards.

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Risks & Challenges Of Legacy Applications

Here are some risks and challenges associated with legacy applications:

  1. Outdated technology: Legacy applications often rely on technology that is no longer supported or compatible with modern systems. Because these technologies are so old, they might not work with the latest rules and suggested practices, making it challenging to maintain and integrate them with newer software and platforms.
  2. Inefficient performance: Legacy applications hinder performance due to slow response times and inefficiency, thus reducing their usefulness and efficiency.
  3. Security vulnerabilities: Older apps are more likely to have security vulnerabilities because they don't use modern security protocols or get updated more often.
  4. High maintenance costs: Older systems cost more to maintain over time. Finding IT professionals with the expertise to keep the systems running smoothly is becoming more complex, as is sourcing the necessary hardware and software components.
  5. Limited scalability: It can be difficult and expensive to scale these systems to meet increasing demands.
  6. Compliance Risks: Old systems may not meet the requirements of the GDPR and CCPA, which are privacy and data protection laws currently in effect. Because of this, a company could be fined heavily and have other legal problems.

Why Modernize Legacy Applications?

Modernizing legacy systems is a must for businesses to stay competitive and efficient. Outdated software can lead to various challenges, including:

  • Incompatibility with evolving business needs, hindering growth and efficiency.
  • Increased security risks due to lack of vendor support and vulnerability to cyber threats.
  • Compliance issues arising from outdated technology and inadequate controls.
  • Expensive legacy software maintenance.
  • Legacy systems struggle to integrate with modern technology.
  • Legacy applications are device-dependent, limiting accessibility.
  • Outdated interfaces lead to user frustration and reduced productivity.

Legacy Application Modernization Strategies

Legacy Application Modernization

A legacy system modernization strategy is a roadmap that defines the steps to modernize an existing application or system to improve its user experience, performance, and functionality. Below are the seven steps to creating an application modernization strategy-

1. Define Your Software Modernization Goals

If you plan to switch the COBOL environment to Java, it is not going to solve the problem. In order to reap the benefits of legacy modernization, it is advised to align the modernization goals with your business objectives while focusing on scalability, new features, and quick time-to-market.

2. Check The Issues In Your Current System

Another important step in updating legacy software is finding and fixing issues. If the existing system doesn't meet your current organizational or IT requirements, it's crucial to identify and address these issues. Look for problems in the application or system that bother users, and focus on addressing those specific issues.

3. Choose The Modernization Approach

Assessing and modernizing legacy applications require a strategic approach that includes identifying the requirements, assessing possibilities, and defining a modernization strategy. Here are the 4 legacy modernization approaches to consider while mapping out a legacy modernization strategy-

  • Replatform
  • Reface
  • Rebuild
  • Migrate

4. Choose Methodology And Timelines

After deciding the modernization approach, the next is to set up a clear methodology and timelines for carrying out the plan. This involves deciding the steps, assigning responsibilities, and establishing deadlines for each task. It's important to consider any dependencies or constraints that might affect the timeline.

5. Automate Modernization

The prime goal of legacy modernization is to increase value for an organization and it requires automation. Automated migration which includes refactoring legacy data to old platforms is a great way to achieve modernization. In addition, automated modernization enables organizations to modernize their systems without affecting their daily operations. 

6. Risk Management Planning

Application modernization comes with some risks. To manage and minimize these risks, it is crucial to create a comprehensive risk management plan. This plan should identify potential risks, set thresholds for acceptable risk levels, create plans, and establish a systematic process for monitoring and mitigating risks throughout the modernization process.

7. Establish KPIs

The next step is to define key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress. This involves pinpointing precise metrics, such as application performance, user satisfaction and delivered business value, that will be monitored to ensure the project's effectiveness.

Things To Keep In Mind Before Modernizing Your Legacy Applications

Legacy Application Modernization

Before you start a legacy application modernization effort, there are a few things worth considering-

  • Business Objectives

Understand your company’s overall business objectives and how the application modernization effort helps you achieve these objectives, like increasing ROI, reducing costs, improving customer satisfaction, etc.

  • Availability of Resources

Since application modernization is complex, assessing your organization’s resource availability is important. This includes assessing if your enterprise has the expertise/resources to execute the modernization process.

  • Tech Strategy

Legacy application modernization is not a one-time event. Thus, it is important to have a long-term strategy to support a business’s objectives. This involves understanding a company’s existing tech landscape, and areas to improve, and defining a roadmap for technology considerations for the future.

Benefits of Legacy Application Modernization

Modernizing legacy applications brings a number of benefits for the organization, which are as follows:

  • Streamlined business operations: New technology makes things much more reliable and efficient, which speeds up work and cuts down on downtime. This saves time and money because it reduces the need for manual labor and the chance of losing things.
  • Satisfied customers: Legacy applications modernization improves customer interactions through an enhanced user experience. Intuitive and reliable interface has the capability to enhance overall customer satisfaction and engagement.
  • Cost savings: Modernizing legacy applications not only streamlines business operations but also helps save the cost required for regular maintenance. By being more in line with existing rules, it makes expensive compliance violations less likely and eliminates the need for expensive band-aid solutions.
  • Resilience: If businesses update their old systems, they can better handle future growth and technological changes. This ensures that businesses can change quickly by setting the stage for ongoing improvement and adapting to new tech environments.

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How Ditstek Innovations Can Help Modernize Your Legacy Applications?

In order to maintain growth and adapt to the constantly changing business landscape, it is crucial to update legacy applications. At Ditstek, our software development experts have rich experience in handling legacy modernization projects for enterprise-level businesses. We can help to optimize observability, scalability and performance of your legacy applications.


Legacy application modernization is a complex process; however, it is crucial in order to keep up with the evolving business needs. Whether you are looking to update your legacy system, integrate a new solution, or redesign the enterprise system, choosing top-notch legacy application modernization services from an experienced software development company is essential for achieving both short-term and long-term goals.


What Are The Steps to Modernize Legacy Applications?

There are many steps involved to modernize legacy applications:

  1. Analyze Legacy System
  2. Define the Problems
  3. Evaluate and Select the Suitable Approach
  4. Plan Your Modernization Scope
  5. Finalize Your Data and Technology Stack
  6. Do Your Homework to Choose the Right Modernization Partner
  7. Set Up Your Timeline and Define Increments
  8. Observe and Optimize

What Are The Key Technologies for Legacy Application Modernization?

Key Technologies for Application Modernization Include:

  • Cloud
  • Containers and Kubernetes
  • Microservices
  • Orchestration and Automation
  • DevOps
  • APIs
  • Digital Adoption Platforms
  • Data Warehouses

Dinesh Thakur

21+ years of IT software development experience in different domains like Business Automation, Healthcare, Retail, Workflow automation, Transportation and logistics, Compliance, Risk Mitigation, POS, etc. Hands-on experience in dealing with overseas clients and providing them with an apt solution to their business needs.

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