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Refactoring legacy applications: Ensure business continuity in an evolving environment

Posted 13 July 2023

In the ever-evolving world of technology, application refactoring has become a critical process for businesses. Legacy applications often underpin essential everyday operations, yet because they have traditional and often inflexible architectures, they can hinder a business’s ability to remain flexible, adaptable and agile in the modern cloud-based landscape. Almost all businesses are now using the cloud in some capacity or another, and ensuring all critical applications are optimised to allow for full integration with other services has become key to ensuring business continuity. 

Understanding your legacy applications 

Legacy applications are pieces of software which, despite having out of support components, continue to operate and fulfil their intended purpose. These applications have often served businesses well and faithfully for years, but continued reliance on outdated applications while modernisation is happening in other areas of the ecosystem can pose significant risks for businesses.  

Chief among the risks is the lack of support and fixes for legacy applications from vendors. If a critical patch were to be released by a vendor, and a business implemented it on an out-of-support application, the patch could cause a failure of the application and put a halt to the operations it supports. In this respect, modernisation of legacy systems is not simply about ensuring businesses can remain responsive; legacy applications can pose a serious threat to business continuity. 

The need for refactoring 

To mitigate the risks associated with unsupported software, refactoring legacy applications is essential. Refactoring involves restructuring and optimising an application’s code to meet the standards and demands of modern business and migrating to a more modern tech stack to allow for full integration with cloud-based applications and systems.  

There are a few options for businesses when it comes to how apps will be modernised: 

  • Refactoring: Restructuring the code for the cloud, while maintaining the app’s functions and behaviour 
  • Rearchitecting: Creating a new application architecture that modernises performance and capabilities to extend the system’s lifetime 
  • Rewriting: Rewriting the application from scratch, but for a modern, cloud-based ecosystem. 

Each of these processes comes with its own challenges, and certainly the time, resources and cost required to modernise legacy applications can make businesses hesitant. But it’s important for businesses to weigh up the benefits and potential risks of maintaining legacy applications – in most cases, refactoring is a worthwhile investment. 

The benefits of application refactoring 

The potential consequences of an application that supports mission-critical processes breaking means assured business continuity is one of the primary benefits of application refactoring. But there are other benefits that mean application refactoring makes good business sense: 

  • Enhanced support: Businesses running older versions of Microsoft’s .net framework are missing out on updates that aim to enhance performance, security and compatibility with the latest technologies. Refactoring applications for a newer framework ensures the application remains compatible with evolving technology, and gives businesses access to ongoing support. 
  • Future-proofed applications: Refactoring provides an opportunity for businesses to future-proof applications and critical systems. By adopting modern technologies and frameworks, businesses are better able to stay ahead of the curve and remain agile, compatible and competitive through future technology and marketplace advances. 
  • Improved application efficiency: The refactoring process gives businesses an opportunity to analyse legacy applications in detail. This means they can eliminate the features that are no longer used, thereby streamlining the system and enhancing performance and usability. 
  • Explore new application architectures: Refactoring legacy applications can open doors to entirely new architectures that further enhance business systems and overall resilience. For example, migration from a desktop-based Windows application to a cloud-based platform can give businesses access to associated mobile applications, which can drive further accessibility and usability improvements. 
  • Reduced technical debt: Legacy applications can be an ongoing source of technical debt, with IT teams frequently tasked with fixing coding compromises, bugs and other ad hoc issues. Converting these applications to cloud-ready structures means they are easily and quickly adaptable, and can leverage automated patching to reduce the amount of time and money required to maintain optimal performance.  
  • 24/7 availability: Legacy systems are often hosted locally, and this can limit the availability and scalability of key applications. By refactoring these applications and migrating them to the cloud, businesses can benefit from the serverless platforms, high availability with failovers, and scalable, on-demand resources that the cloud offers. 

A roadmap for refactoring  

Refactoring legacy applications for modern technology stacks and migrating them to the cloud can be both complex and time-consuming. Legacy applications have often been subject to ad hoc patches and modifications over many years, and they can underpin workflows that aren’t immediately obvious, and which have never been documented. In many cases, it will be crucial for businesses to roadmap their refactoring, and to collaborate with migration specialists to ensure all critical processes and workflows are accounted for. At BCN, for example, our expert developers are Microsoft certified to ensure legacy .net applications are migrated fully to the latest framework to ensure longevity and give businesses access to ongoing support for years to come. 

Your partner for application refactoring 

Refactoring legacy systems is a vital step for businesses looking to ensure business continuity, improve systems efficiency and remain agile and responsive in a tech landscape that is evolving at lightning speed. By partnering with the right experts and creating a solid migration plan, businesses can embark on a transformative journey that secures their applications’ longevity and unlocks new opportunities for growth. 

At BCN, we understand the challenges associated with refactoring legacy applications and can support your business along every stage of the journey. With more than 20 years’ experience in application development, our team of experts can help you to secure your workflows, modernise your tech stack and future-proof your applications in the cloud. 

To find out more about how we can support your business’s application refactoring, get in touch today.

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