Future-proof your legacy applications with six key initiatives

Global enterprise application software spending is set to increasing to more than $201 billion in 2019, according to the recent forecast from Gartner. Analysts predict that growth will be primarily driven by modernization, functional expansion and digital transformation projects.

It seems that a significant proportion of that investment will be dedicated to legacy systems. With 45% of Gartner survey respondents indicating one of the current top five IT project priorities is "application modernization of installed on-premises core enterprise applications" and a further 41% stating that "extending capabilities of core enterprise applications" is a top five priority. So how can CIOs ensure that their investment yields long term returns and prepares their organisation for future IT innovations?

Ditch the applets, plug-ins and device specific software

Creating a pure HTML version of your applications is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to future proof your core applications. Web based terminal emulators allow organisations to offer their employees application access on any device, anywhere, using any browser. Removing the need for client side, device specific, software protects the organisation from new browser versions, new device types and access requests from external stakeholders. The first web based terminal emulator, developed in the 90s, was iPad compatible before tablets even existed.

Prepare for the cloud

Cloud access is not just a box ticking exercise when it comes to legacy applications. New IT initiatives are making app usage patterns more sporadic, creating previously unheard of peaks in demand. Think about how often banks’ customers now check their balances on their phones during their commute. Organisations need to have a flexible infrastructure to future proof their applications; allowing them to provide on demand customer access without excess capacity.

Integrate, take advantage of SoA and IoT

The future of all applications is continued integration, both with other applications and with the physical world. Whether it’s integration between your web traffic and sales management applications, or between your energy provider’s application and your kettle; the world is becoming increasingly integrated. Creating bespoke integrations is time consuming, costly and can lead to application instability. Protect your organisation against this by choosing an application development toolset that enables you to build standards based web services quickly and efficiently. Some toolsets even have graphical web service builders. These can drastically reduce the time taken to integrate your host applications.

Protect against the skills shortage

One of the most common motivators for legacy migration is the shortage of developers with the relevant skills. Decision makers can minimise the impact this has on their organisations by choosing solutions that allow them to utilise common skillset. There are .NET toolsets available that enable developers to easily modernise their application UIs, condense multiple screens into one web page and develop web services that integrate with a variety of other business applications; all without altering the underlying code. 

Harness the citizen developer

Another way you can protect your organisation from any potential skill shortages is to harness the citizen developer. Application super users are uniquely poised to react to changes in demand, new workflows or new requirements. They understand how the application needs to perform at a granular level and are best placed to improve their own user experience. Choosing an application development solution that includes a studio, or wizard based environment is an excellent way to ensure agility and future proof-legacy applications.

Be intuitive

Intuitive applications have greater longevity and can be implemented in a wider variety of scenarios. Using graphical navigation rather than relying on keyboard shortcuts, automating common tasks and condensing multiple screens onto one web page all help to reduce the documentation and training required. This has been notoriously difficult when dealing with legacy ‘green screen’ applications, but with the right development toolset it could not be more simple.