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Surmounting legacy systems with low-code  

As a software development approach with little to no coding required to build applications and processes, low-code is quickly becoming the best way for organizations to avoid the complexities of programming languages.

Today, developers can use low-code to enhance their digital capabilities and move away from legacy systems. For many organizations, reliance on outdated systems has not only enslaved their business but also stifle digital innovation and compounded technical debt over time. Interestingly, with applications requiring little to no coding experience through low-code, the platform market is forecasted to amount up to US$65 billion by 2027

While low-code enables faster digital transformation, the reality is over time, some legacy systems may just simply no longer be able to support or integrate with modern systems. As businesses continue to become more data-driven and embrace digitalization, one of the biggest challenges they would have to overcome is moving on from their legacy systems.

According to Suresh Sambandam, CEO of Kissflow, legacy systems can be challenging for a variety of reasons. This includes businesses having outdated or unsupported pieces of equipment and facilities and a shortage of the talent pool needed to keep the applications running is dwindling.

At the same time, most legacy systems today are incapable of supporting the evolving business process and may have even grown unstable or may have performance or scalability difficulties due to years of ad-hoc adjustment and growing numbers. There is also the challenge of ensuring security, patching, and compliance with new rules and regulations.

For Sambandam, since legacy systems face several problems there is a clear need to migrate them to modernized settings intended for the future. And the solution is simply to transform the old system into a low-code platform.

“Low-code platforms efficiently transform the way by which you build software. Furthermore, because low-code platforms provide easy-to-use tools, citizen developers may participate in the migration process. Overall, using a customer-focused, and test-and-learn strategy, low code helps you provide better solutions to your users,” said Sambandam.

Key things to consider while migrating from a legacy system to a low-code platform


Suresh Sambandam, CEO of Kissflow

For businesses hoping to migrate their legacy systems to a low-code platform, Sambandam explained that they needed to start by moving their basic (non-business essential) apps and work their way up to more sophisticated applications while migrating legacy systems.

“It gives you valuable experience, which you can use for more important projects to reduce the chances of costly mistakes. It’s also a good idea to start moving sections of your program that don’t satisfy your end users’ business requirements. It will allow you to show a quick return on investment and will most likely result in management buy-in, allowing you to proceed on your migration route,” said Sambandam.

Sambandam also pointed out that migrating a system to a low-code platform in stages is the best approach to breaking legacy applications monolith. The idea of bimodal IT is another important paradigm to consider while migrating legacy systems. A simple concept, bimodal IT simply means dividing the software development team into two groups. The old application environment (legacy system) will be maintained by one team, while the new software system will be developed by the other.

From there, in a step-by-step migration, the two teams will work closely together to ensure that the old system does not break while the new environment is being built.

Apart from that, it is important to see how low code can be integrated with legacy systems. Sambandam highlighted that many organizations want to take advantage of the latest technology while migrating legacy systems, but sometimes neglect those that can disrupt current systems and services.

“Low-code platforms allow you to keep your legacy system alive for a bit longer by making its functionality available to many other systems. While your core system may be what you wish to maintain, a low-code platform allows you to develop add-ons or new apps on top of it. Consider developing an Android and iOS mobile application on top of your existing CRM system,” he said.

Also, Sambandam mentioned that the reusability of the existing data model is another major benefit of moving to a low-code platform. Organizations may simply utilize the data model that is already in place for a seamless transition since they may begin designing a new user interface while still using the same data model.

Another consideration for businesses when migrating legacy systems is that they must create a solution that is both flexible and adaptable to future needs. Sambandam states that IT staff do not want the new system to become a relic in the future, but the good news is that moving a legacy system to a low-code platform will ensure a smooth transition.

Challenges in migrating 

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With that said, Sambandam also underlines the key challenges businesses have when it comes to migrating from a legacy system to a low-code platform. They are as follows:

Tomorrow’s legacy is created by a lack of flexibility – Legacy migrations need the creation of a flexible system that can adjust to changes. The last thing IT wants is for the new system to become a legacy system in the future. Low-code platforms enable companies to use a contemporary app architecture that leverages microservices to improve agility. Look for a platform that makes it simple to create self-contained apps and services that can be integrated and shared, as well as one that allows for quick, frequent change cycles so the system can adapt to changing business demands. To avoid building an unmaintainable set of apps or heaps of machine-generated code, it’s important to choose a future-proof framework.

Apps that are mission-critical fail to deliver at scale –  Many fundamental legacy systems are unable to grow and offer the needed performance. Look for the new solution’s robustness and high availability for mission-critical applications. Automatic failover for continuous operation of business-critical apps is enabled by a low-code platform with a cloud-native design, guaranteeing that they do not have the same performance difficulties as legacy systems.

Inadequate quality assurance Because most legacy transfer solutions are large and complicated, there is typically insufficient monitoring of the app’s quality. To avoid technological debt and enhance long-term maintainability, it’s critical to be able to proactively monitor and resolve application quality. Look for a low-code platform that includes automated testing, quality assurance, and performance monitoring as part of the development process.

Usability is a last-minute consideration – Usability is frequently an afterthought with this sort of application, lowering ROI. When developing the new solution, employ low-code development to take a user-centric, design-thinking strategy. A better knowledge of the users and the business context may assist remove process gaps in the legacy system, resulting in an end-to-end solution that boosts productivity significantly.

“The scenarios above demonstrate how low-code may be a feasible and advantageous option for legacy modernization. Is it, however, right for you? It solely depends. As with any digital transformation, it’s a great idea to consider all of the choices, along with their advantages and drawbacks,” commented Sambandam.

While businesses may be tempted with fancy sales brochures and business demos, he believes what is most important is that also must examine the system’s competency and compliance, the lifespan, and creditworthiness of a seller, the expense of licensing, and the company’s strategic alignment.

“Application, component, deployment style, organization size, geography, and business – are all segments of the low-code development platform market. With the expanding demand for business applications and the IT industry on a worldwide scale, quick application development is critical to ensuring customer satisfaction and facilitating rapid digitization,” Sambandam concluded.