Rotate your phone

Once that's done you'll be able to
experience the OutsideThePC website perfectly.

Our Blog

The Ongoing but Necessary Transformation of Software Products
Back to Blog

The Ongoing but Necessary Transformation of Software Products

“For most organizations, legacy systems are seen as holding back business initiatives and business processes that rely on them.”

Stefan Van Der Zijden of Gartner

Legacy products are the top concern for over 800 CIOs – with over half planning to improve their IT infrastructure to overcome legacy software-related issues.

2018 Logicalis Global CIO Survey

The signs are clear. In a data-driven world, digital transformation is no more a “nice thing to do” but an essential key to keeping business moving forward. This is what consumers want. It’s what enterprises need to do and what drives their choice of software products too.

The message must be loud and clear for software product companies that continue to spend countless hours and their technology budget into keeping their traditional or legacy products running. As an ISV, you need to align your software products with customer demands and market dynamics. It’s time to digitally transform the products in the portfolio.

Among the key component of digital transformation, the modernization of legacy software is an ongoing but necessary task. Why is it necessary? And how do you achieve that? Let us discuss that.

What are Legacy Systems or Applications?

According to Gartner, a legacy system or application is defined as “an information system that is crucial for daily operations, but is driven by old or outdated technologies.” An example of a legacy system is a large mainframe system used for business operations like data processing. Recently, the U.S Government Accountability Office prepared a list of legacy systems that needed to be modernized. Most of these software products were written using the COBOL programming language – and had both support and security-related issues.

Why are Legacy Systems not sustainable?

Apart from the use of old or obsolete languages, legacy systems face challenges like a lack of customer support or an inability to meet the current needs of the organization. They don’t include the latest capabilities and are also difficult to integrate with modern systems that work with data analytics, cloud platforms, and agile methodologies.

The Logicalis survey found that half of the surveyed CIOs spent around 40-60% managing legacy systems, instead of focusing on their business strategies. And keep in mind that this survey is also more than a couple of years old. The cost of running legacy systems is also considerable; with 80% of the 2019 U.S. federal government budget spent on existing operations and maintenance.

What is the best approach towards modernizing legacy software applications and systems?

Modernization Framework for Legacy Systems

The first step towards software modernization is by examining the existing situation deeply. For the best results, here is a modernization framework that should work for any legacy software product:


What is the technology stack that is being used for the existing software applications? Have they been built on programming languages that are still relevant or have long become obsolete? Depending on the technology, you may need to rewrite the entire application while retaining its functions and specifications. This is also the stage to take a long hard look at the capabilities your product provides to check if you are in tune with the digital requirements of your customers. Do you have an analytics layer? What is the reporting like? Do you have room to allow easy interfaces with other enterprise systems to allow business users to create automated workflows? There’s much the modern software product must be capable of, does your product meet those specs?

Software architecture

Once you have evaluated the underlying technology, check the software architecture for the software elements that are still functioning optimally or those that need to be modernized. Depending on the results, you may need to rearchitect or modify specific code to migrate to a new and relevant architecture.

Software code

Does your legacy application have an exhaustive codebase that requires constant reviewing and refactoring? Review the existing code for any design flaws and whether it is capable of being “updated” or could only be usable by ripping it out and replacing it?

UI or UX

Similar to the software code step, the user interface (UI) of your legacy system requires a complete design review keeping today’s users in mind. This helps in determining which parts of the UI need a "facelift" to be considered modernized.

Performance assessment

The final step of your modernization framework is aimed at uncovering any performance bottlenecks with your legacy systems. This can determine if it requires a complete re-engineering (or code replacing) or just selective changes.

The Capabilities Needed to Modernize Legacy Systems?

There is a range of powerful and flexible technology options available to the forward-thinking software product company to build the “gen next” version. But before getting down to the building, let us examine what must be built? This is a look at how the latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics must play a role in modernizing legacy systems? Here is a look at the latest industry trends:

  • Data analytics The explosion of data has also led to a growth in data analytics technologies that are tapping into structured and unstructured data sources including the Internet-of-Things (or IoT). Among the many considerations for modernization, future-focused applications need to bake in data analytics to provide actionable insights, meaningful planning, and transparent reporting from within the product itself.
  • AI and Machine Learning With the growing adoption of AI and machine learning, business enterprises with legacy applications can still optimize these technologies to make thousands of accurate business decisions every day. When your product includes AI capabilities, you can claim to be on the road to application transformation.
  • Use of APIs Despite their challenges, legacy systems still generate valuable data and services that are critical for any business. The use of APIs in software modernization is an effective medium of abstracting the business data and services from the underlying legacy architecture. Here are 2 API-based strategies that can be employed to modernize legacy applications:
  • Packaging or wrapping legacy services using RESTful APIs or through web service operations.
  • Re-architecting the application code to develop microservices – and exposing their functionalities using APIs.


Depending on the current legacy setup of your product, you can adopt a different modernization method that can work for your business needs. Through this article, we have looked at elements of a product modernization framework, along with how "modernized" software can embrace the current and future needs of applications including AI capabilities and data analytics.

As a future-centric technology provider, OutsideThePC focuses completely on empowering its customers with the latest cutting-edge technology. Be it through delivering customized software or transforming “n minus 1” versions of software, we can be your partner in your journey of digital transformation. Drop us a message – and start your product transformation journey.