In today’s unpredictable business environment, many companies are hamstrung by legacy applications as more nimble competitors arrive on the scene. But replacing or even updating these legacy systems can disrupt your business, giving your competitors an unwelcome hand. The key is to build a plan that will modernize your legacy systems while keeping the business running.

Our partner Infosys Limited has perfected the art of “zero-disruption modernization” with an approach that keeps much of the existing technology infrastructure (typically systems of record) in place with non-invasive strategies.

In an in-depth session, Modernization Using the OutSystems Platform, at NextStep 2021, Saroj Senapathy, Head of NextGen Technology at Infosys' modernization practice, shared the process that minimizes disruption while making our shared customers more resilient, responsive, and relevant.

This blog post covers the key insights and takeaways from his session. For the full preso, watch the full video below.

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3 Vital Characteristics of Legacy System Modernization

What does it mean to modernize, and why is it necessary? Saroj defines modernization as the digital transformation of a legacy organization into a “live enterprise” that has three vital characteristics:

Resilience: Inflexible and complex legacy systems inhibit business resilience because they resist upgrading and improving with high capital expense barriers and vendor lock-in. Obsolete systems and technologies impact customer experience and threaten a company’s competitive posture, especially against nimble new entrants into the market.

Responsiveness: Monolithic and legacy systems hinder responsiveness and decision making while siloed teams and lack of collaboration lead to inefficiencies. Together these issues extend time to market for change in products and services even as customer demand for these changes continues to accelerate.

Relevance: Outdated systems can drain organizations of resources that could be put to better use. For example, on-premise infrastructure and proprietary software requires continuous maintenance, upgrades, and security enhancements just to keep the lights on. By contrast, a modern IT environment operates far more efficiently so your team can focus on providing greater value to the business by bringing innovative new products to market and improving customer experience.

Modernizing Legacy Applications with Zero Disruption

Clearly, legacy software modernization isn’t just a “nice to have.” But it’s not easy, which is why a lot of initiatives get pushed further into the future. Companies rightly fear the risk of business disruption as well as the high cost and long time to value of application modernization. They lack the skills necessary to build new technologies. And siloed business and IT teams fail to collaborate fully.

The result: complex legacy systems with no single source of truth.

Infosys developed a three-pronged modernization strategy that leverages the low-code, cloud-native OutSystems platform that provides a visual, model-driven approach, drag-and-drop data connections, and AI-powered tools that improve the application lifecycle and facilitates application modernization in several ways.

It can extend the usefulness of legacy applications with new functionality, data aggregation, and rich UX. It’s robust enough to develop mission-critical cloud-based applications. It can replace multiple third-party point solutions to streamline and automate digital business processes. And it shortens software development time dramatically compared to traditional methodologies.

The zero-disruption modernization strategy is built on three pillars:

  1. Micro change: Micro change planning allows an organization to transition with minimal disruption. It does so by adding or replacing functions one at a time. Modern application development platforms are well suited to this task. They facilitate continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI/CD) by allowing organizations to manage proper governance and approvals across the software development pipeline. With a modern, low-code application platform like OutSystems, you can deploy or rollback applications with a single-click. Best-in-class platforms also offer AI-powered automated dependency management across an entire app portfolio.
  2. Harmonization: The right app development platform lets you flexibly harmonize legacy and new systems. Link your applications to data from existing sources with out-of-the-box connectors. Generate all the necessary code for calling an external system. And easily change existing integrations based on business requirements. Because software development does not alter or even impact legacy systems, disruptions are minimal.
  3. Business process management: Legacy, siloed systems can add roadblocks to processes and create inefficiencies. A modern, low-code development platform helps to get people, processes, and technologies together to reach business goals. It allows you to quickly develop apps that provide a streamlined user experience, robotic process automation, and connectivity to send data between siloed systems. Perhaps most importantly, it facilitates collaboration between business and IT by making it easy to visualize business processes right in the app builder, eliminating friction and disruption even before deployment.

Case study: Modernizing a Legacy Artwork Management Application

A global company relied on a legacy artwork management system that couldn't scale as usage and file size increased, nor was it accessible remotely. Worse, the vendor no longer supported the application. The company worked with Infosys to decommission the application and replace it using the OutSystems platform.

They finished the new application six times faster than they could have using traditional development methodologies. And the new reactive web application worked better, too. It added secure user authentication, automated approval flows, new features, and integration with other systems — giving them everything they needed to scale and build for the future.

A Low-Code Approach to Modernization

Companies with legacy IT must modernize to compete in today’s global market and shouldn’t have to decide between disruptive replacement or patchwork updates. Instead, minimize disruption while maximizing current systems and data sources far faster than traditional development with the OutSystems platform.

Watch the complete session, Modernization Using the OutSystems Platform, to learn how you can leverage a low-code application development platform to achieve zero-disruption legacy system modernization. Watch now.