Over the next few years, I believe that legacy software is going to become a key factor which will start impacting organisations in fundamental ways, having a sudden and significant impact on their profitability.
Those constrained by legacy platforms will be operating with a ball and chain, holding back their ability to get new features to market, to iterate, and to innovate with software.
Those unconstrained will be able to fly by taking advantage of modern tooling and approaches, and quickly grab market share from an increasingly fickle consumer base.
These modern approaches to software delivery such as DevOps, Continuous Delivery, cloud, containers, infrastructure automation and polyglot MicroServices are exponentially better approaches than last generation technology. Those who are working on these modern platforms can move so quickly in comparison to more traditional enterprise environments that people working on older platforms don’t stand a chance. It’s at least a 5-10x uplift in speed of delivery.
What is scary is that by legacy I am not even talking about mainframes or Visual Basic desktop applications. I’m talking about last generation .NET and J2EE platforms which are too heavyweight, slow and bulky to change. Change, iteration and experimentation is what’s important in the new world and these platforms are just not optimised for that.
Many enterprises who I speak with through Contino are seriously feeling this pain now, even though they don’t consider their technology legacy or outdated.
Of course, people have wanted better, faster, cheaper since the dawn of time. Disruption is a mature concept and legacy technology has also been an issue for enterprises for a long while.
What is different this time is that there is now a burning platform. Every business is competing on the strength of their technology, and nimble startups can come along with lower barriers to entry and eat their lunch. Likewise, more established players who are much better at software delivery can branch out into new markets and beat incumbents on their own turf. For instance, what would happen if Amazon launched a bank? Their technology capability would allow them to leapfrog established players in a very short space of time. Established businesses are seriously exposed.
Decoupling, modernising and re-platforming legacy code takes a long while. Some of these projects are going to need significant amounts of work and significant budgets to re-platform, but the cost of not doing is huge if the organisation doesn’t survive in the new software centric world. I suggest starting those conversations now in order to swerve what future generations could deem as the great legacy code crisis of 2016!