For most businesses that rely on technology, it can be a double-edged sword. Software is necessary to keep the business running, remain competitive, and even sell a product. At the same time, it can be difficult to keep software and hardware updated - doing so requires ongoing investment in talent, time, and development. For this reason, business owners and CIOs hold onto legacy systems for too long, increasing costs and decreasing productivity while stagnating their system.
Legacy software is typically code written in older languages (E.g. Cobol, C, Assembler, PL/I) and while it isn’t necessarily bad software or even poor quality, it can be outdated. Most often, legacy software is a piece of software that was once cutting edge, still supporting critical business processes, but has since become difficult to enhance or maintain. Now, age isn’t the only thing that dictates whether or not something is legacy - there are some software designs that stand the test of time.
Legacy software forms the backbone of many large financial, insurance, and telecommunications companies - and they are at the most risk. Most enterprises know they have a lot of legacy software, but they don’t know exactly how much or to what extent they have put themselves at risk. Some of the risks of keeping legacy software include:
Application Portfolio Analysis or APA catalogues software or application portfolios and associated application demographics. It provides software intelligence that combines objective technology insights with qualitative business context.
Application Portfolio Analysis inventories the number of different technologies within an enterprise while also evaluating the health, cloud readiness, and open-source risk of code within the enterprise. It also provides a platform to help make portfolio-level decisions through an objective source code scan and qualitative business context for each application across the enterprise.
Application Portfolio Analysis (APA) can help to find any existing problems with systems and then use those insights to forecast any problems that could pop up into the future, including cloud readiness, complexity, and the cost of your application portfolio.
A good application portfolio analysis program should be easily deployable across an enterprise application portfolio of potentially hundreds or thousands of applications - it should not take long to get results. The data provided on the dashboard has to include objective measures and be able to quantify exactly how much legacy software there is in comparison to non-legacy software. For example, it must provide a consistent metric like lines of code for application size, a consistent measure for software health and risks - helping teams to understand just what is happening within a specific application or the overall portfolio in terms of their quality.
A good application portfolio analysis program should include qualitative business context data to enable a more informed decision-making (e.g. Business Impact of an application). Most importantly, in many cases, APA programs should also have consistent measures for cloud readiness for enterprises developing a roadmap for cloud migration. Another thing that makes one application portfolio analysis program stand out from another is that the process has to be repeatable and performed periodically.
APA balances the subjective nature of discussions around portfolio rationalization with objective data. It also creates a consistent language and foundation for making decisions regarding legacy software (around the world).
This benchmarking allows decision making, enabling teams to come to an agreement on how they want to deal with their legacy software:
In the end, it provides the support needed to make important decisions quickly and objectively.
One of the largest Insurance companies in North America wanted to take a digital first approach to modernization, but didn’t know how much risk it was exposed to due to its low understanding of the legacy exposure. Continuity issues due to a retiring work force and innumerable software integrations over the years without modernizing its legacy software compounded this problem further.
This well-established firm used CAST Highlight to: