3 reasons CIOs should make legacy application modernization a priority in 2017

2016 was supposed to be the year of legacy application modernization. It was a big topic in tech executive circles, and most of the major tech publications were talking about it.

Yet here we are in 2017, and many IT organizations have yet to actually make it happen.

There are a variety of reasons for that, such as choosing instead to focus on re-platforming apps to the cloud, which many organizations did last year.

But dragging your legacy applications along for another year is like dragging a boulder behind you while running a race. You might burn more calories, but your chances of winning are pretty slim.

With that in mind, here are three reasons CIOs should finally make legacy application modernization a priority in 2017.

#1: Your Performance is Held Back

Just like the example of running a race while dragging a boulder, you can’t perform on the same level as your competitors when legacy technology is holding you back.

While you’re spending time finding a “Classic ASP” developer or tracing through esoteric code that some junior developer wrote by himself before quitting five years ago, your competitors are building innovative solutions with newer technologies like Node.js, Power BI, and IBM Watson.

Infrastructure modernization through re-platforming may gain you some performance benefits and lower your capital costs, but it doesn’t address the actual application. Every time the application breaks or it takes your developers four times longer than it should to make a code change, you’re dragging the costs of that legacy application behind you while trying to run the race.

#2: You’re Supporting What Isn’t Supported

Still running MOSS 2007? It’s reached the end of its lifecycle and isn’t supported by Microsoft anymore.

Still running SharePoint 2010? It’s almost in the same boat, having moved into the “extended support” phase of its lifecycle in 2015, a phase which ends in 2020. Microsoft has shifted more of the support burdens and costs to you at this point with the expectation that you’ll upgrade to SharePoint 2013/2016 or migrate to SharePoint Online to before then.

Still supporting VB 6 apps or “Classic ASP” applications? Those developers can charge a premium nowadays for their legacy system expertise, leaving you in a tight spot if you need those apps updated.

Also, when a technology is no longer supported and something goes horribly wrong, guess who assumes the liability for that? You do.

#3: Simple Solutions Suddenly Aren’t So Simple

Part of building out a modern “digital ecosystem” (one of the buzzwords of 2017) is intelligently integrating applications, including ensuring a Single Sign-On (SSO) experience for users.

Single Sign-On isn’t a difficult problem to solve in 2017. With technologies like Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), Azure Active Directory, IdentityServer (free), and others, the main requirement becomes having applications which support SSO protocols like OpenID Connect, OAuth, and SAML.

Of course, your legacy apps likely don’t support those protocols — at least not without a lot of code changes — meaning solving a simple challenge suddenly isn’t so simple, and you’ve just given your competitors a chance to jump ahead of you.

Now isn’t just the time to plan ahead. It’s the time to actually get ahead. Don’t let legacy technology hold you back. Make legacy application modernization part of your plan for 2017, and get rid of the boulder so you can win the race.