In keeping with IDC projections, most legacy applications will undergo modernization investments by 2024. This insight underscores the critical and widespread nature of this transformative trend.
Whether you're a CIO influencing the trajectory of your organization's IT landscape or a business leader searching for a legacy modernization strategy to foster sustainable growth, this article delves into strategies that provide a well-defined roadmap guiding you toward achieving successful system modernization.
This blog post is based on our real-life experiences and expert insights to assist you in making well-informed decisions.
Table of contents
- How to Understand That Travel Enterprises Need Legacy System Modernization
- Understanding the Necessity of Modernizing Legacy Applications for Travel Businesses
- Legacy Software Modernization Strategies
- Onix’s Checklist for a Successful Travel Application Modernization
- Challenges of Legacy Systems Modernization
- Legacy Systems Modernization With Onix-Systems: Our Experience
- Summing Up
In the modern travel industry, where seamless operations and cutting-edge technology dictate success, recognizing when to modernize legacy systems becomes a strategic move. Failing to heed the signs can result in operational inefficiencies, security vulnerabilities, and support.
By not modernizing legacy systems, these environments are becoming susceptible to crashes, as evidenced by the events on Tax Day 2018. The Internal Revenue Service encountered technical difficulties preventing the processing of electronically filed tax returns. Although the IRS didn’t disclose the specific details of the issue, the reliance on outdated IT systems, some dating back almost six decades, likely played a role in the computer glitch.
According to Flexera's Report, most products typically have a lifecycle of five years.
However, the classification of a system as a legacy is not solely determined by its age. It can also be attributed to a lack of support or its inability to align with the evolving needs of a business or organization. Legacy software is typically challenging, if not impossible to maintain, support, enhance, or integrate with newer systems due to constraints in its architecture, underlying technology, or design.
Notably, in a survey conducted by Logicalis among CIOs, over half surveyed reported dedicating 40 to 60 percent of their time to managing legacy IT instead of focusing on strategic activities. This underscores that legacy technology poses a substantial barrier to digital transformation.
When is it time to modernize? Below, we share the key indicators that help you identify if you have a legacy system in your infrastructure:
- Unsupported by the vendors
- Lacks security updates
- Incompatible with modern software integration
- Requires workarounds for processes
- An outdated, clunky user interface
- Experiences delays or slow performance
- Incurs high maintenance costs
- Difficulties in adding new features due to inflexibility and fragility
- Challenges in finding developers for old technology maintenance
- Difficulty in adhering to the latest industry regulations and compliance standards
- Limited mobile compatibility or lacks a mobile-friendly interface.
The global application modernization tools market forecast indicates a potential valuation of $36.86 billion by 2027.
This substantial growth is driven by the heightened awareness among businesses regarding the crucial role of application modernization in maintaining agility and competitiveness.
Modernizing legacy systems can offer various advantages and business benefits for travel enterprises. Here are some of them:
Enhanced operational efficiency
Legacy system modernization for travel enterprises brings a transformative boost to operational efficiency. Outdated systems often need to improve their processes, hindering the agility required in today's fast-paced business environment. By adopting modern technologies and streamlined workflows, businesses can eliminate bottlenecks, reduce manual interventions, and optimize their operations for maximum efficiency. This accelerates internal processes and positions the organization to respond promptly to market demands and customer needs.
Read Also: Automation in the travel industry
Cost savings and reduced maintenance expenses
Legacy systems are notorious for their high maintenance costs and the challenges of managing outdated technologies. Modernization paves the way for significant cost savings by minimizing the need for constant maintenance, troubleshooting, and patching.
According to McKinsey, legacy systems significantly affect business performance, posing challenges in terms of maintenance costs and upgrades. These hurdles hinder businesses from embracing new technologies and pioneering innovative business models.
With a more streamlined and automated infrastructure, businesses can redirect resources to strategic initiatives, innovation, and growth rather than allocating substantial budgets to upkeep legacy technologies.
Enhanced security and compliance
Security vulnerabilities pose a significant risk in legacy systems, which may lack the robust defenses required to prevent modern cyber threats. Research findings reveal a dire reality for small companies, with a significant 60% facing closure within six months due to the impact of cyberattacks. The financial aftermath of these attacks places an average cost of $25,612 on small businesses, encompassing monetary losses and consequential damage to brand reputation.
Modernizing legacy systems strengthens an organization's security posture by implementing the latest security protocols and features. Additionally, updated systems are designed to adhere to industry regulations and data protection standards, ensuring compliance and safeguarding sensitive information from potential breaches.
Business agility and innovation
The ability to adapt quickly to market changes and embrace emerging technologies is a crucial advantage of modernized systems.
For example, during our modernization services for Metronome, a hotel search and booking platform, we integrated advanced machine learning algorithms into our strategy for modernizing the legacy system. The system actively generates user profiles by analyzing their interactions with hotels, continually learning and adjusting to individual preferences. This intelligent profiling guarantees that recommendations evolve alongside the user, shaping an increasingly personalized and refined travel companion.
Moreover, Deloitte highlights the importance of businesses modernizing applications to enhance flexibility and agility, aligning IT technologies with their specific requirements.
The emphasis on modernization is crucial as legacy applications, particularly those relying on mainframes, encounter compatibility issues with contemporary platforms. This restriction inhibits organizations' capacity to address essential business requirements and capitalize on future growth opportunities.
With agile development methodologies and integrating innovative technologies, businesses can accelerate their time-to-market for new products and services. Legacy systems modernization fosters a culture of continuous improvement, positioning enterprises to stay ahead of the competition and proactively respond to industry trends.
Scalability for future growth
Legacy systems often need more scalability to accommodate the evolving needs of a growing business. Modernization enables organizations to scale their operations seamlessly. Whether handling an increased volume of transactions, expanding user bases, or incorporating new functionalities, modernized systems provide the flexibility to adapt to changing business landscapes. This scalability ensures that the technology infrastructure grows with the organization's ambitions.
For instance, we established a microservices architecture while modernizing Metronome's travel booking platform. This modular approach ensured scalability, flexibility, and unparalleled efficiency. Each service is meticulously designed and optimized, contributing to a robust and responsive platform for users.
The benefits of modernizing legacy systems are multi-faceted, emphasizing efficiency, cost-effectiveness, customer satisfaction, security, scalability, agility, and competitive positioning. As travel organizations update their outdated systems, they open doors to a future where their technology infrastructure drives growth, innovation, and sustained success.
Modernizing legacy systems demands a thoughtful and strategic approach. Here, we delve into specific strategies travel enterprises can employ for efficient legacy software modernization:
Encapsulation involves isolating critical functionalities within transparent and standardized interfaces, shielding the internal complexities. This legacy modernization approach in the travel industry allows for gradually replacing legacy components while maintaining external interfaces, ensuring a controlled and phased modernization process.
Best suited for:
- Travel enterprises with large-scale reservation systems, intricate business-critical functions, and a need for a controlled and gradual modernization approach.
- Organizations where specific legacy components house critical functionalities related to reservations, ticketing, and customer databases. The strategy allows for the isolation and modernization of these functions without compromising the overall system's stability.
- Travel enterprises that rely on legacy systems for long-term operations, offering a structured method for ongoing maintenance and updates. Additionally, encapsulation facilitates seamless integration with emerging technologies, ensuring travel enterprises can adapt to industry innovations without undertaking a complete system overhaul.
Replatforming is a modernization strategy that involves migrating legacy systems to a new platform while maintaining the existing codebase. This means transitioning key functionalities to a more contemporary technology infrastructure for travel enterprises without rewriting the entire system.
Best suited for:
- Travel enterprises facing technological obsolescence, scalability challenges, and vendor dependency concerns.
- Those seeking a cost-effective and less disruptive modernization approach.
- Organizations that aim to update the technology infrastructure while preserving existing business logic and ensuring a timely transition to a more modern platform.
Refactoring involves restructuring the existing codebase of a legacy system without changing its external behavior. This modernization strategy aims to enhance the system's maintainability, scalability, and performance by optimizing its internal structure.
Best suited for:
- Travel enterprises dealing with complex codebases, technical debt, scalability or performance challenges, and those prioritizing improvements in maintainability.
- Organizations whose goal is to optimize the internal structure of the legacy system while preserving its external behavior and ensuring a more sustainable and adaptable codebase for the future.
Rehosting, or "lift and shift," is a modernization strategy that involves migrating the entire legacy system to a new infrastructure without significantly changing its code or architecture. Rehosting aims to provide a quick and cost-effective transition to a new environment.
Best suited for:
- Travel enterprises facing infrastructure end-of-life scenarios, cost and time constraints, vendor dependency issues, and those prioritizing a quick and minimally disruptive solution.
- Organizations that aim to migrate the legacy system to a new environment without extensively changing the existing codebase or functionalities.
Rebuilding is a comprehensive modernization strategy that involves redesigning and redeveloping the entire legacy system from the ground up. This strategy addresses fundamental issues by creating a new system using modern technologies, architectures, and development practices.
Best suited for:
- Travel enterprises that require a transformative solution to address fundamental challenges, such as outdated technology stacks, business process transformation, and a desire to achieve a competitive edge through innovation. It's a comprehensive approach that allows organizations to create a modernized system aligned with their strategic goals and ready for future advancements in the travel industry.
This strategy combines elements of different modernization approaches, allowing travel enterprises to leverage the strengths of various methods concurrently. It often involves integrating newer technologies and practices while maintaining certain aspects of the existing legacy system.
Best suited for:
- Travel enterprises dealing with diverse legacy environments, incremental modernization goals, budget constraints, and the need to minimize disruptions. It allows organizations to tailor modernization efforts based on their legacy systems' specific challenges and opportunities.
Choosing the most suitable strategy depends on factors such as the system's complexity, business requirements, budget constraints, and the desired level of transformation. Combining these strategies is often employed in a phased approach to achieve a successful and comprehensive legacy software modernization.
An efficient legacy system modernization process requires careful planning and strategic execution. Below, we break down the essential steps to ensure a seamless and successful transition:
Defining clear objectives
Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives for modernization. Clearly define what you aim to achieve, whether improving system performance, enhancing security, or enabling better scalability. These objectives will serve as your guiding principles throughout the modernization process.
Comprehensive system assessment
Before diving into modernization, thoroughly assess your existing legacy system. Identify its strengths, weaknesses, and potential roadblocks. Evaluate the impact of modernization on different components, considering both technical and business perspectives.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Document existing system architecture. Create comprehensive documentation of the current legacy system, including its architecture, components, dependencies, and data flow. This documentation serves as a baseline for understanding the existing system's intricacies.
- Perform a technical debt assessment. Evaluate the technical debt accumulated in the legacy system. Identify outdated technologies, unsupported software, and areas where the system may be vulnerable. Understanding technical debt helps prioritize areas for improvement.
- Assess scalability and performance. Evaluate the current system's scalability and performance. Understand its limitations regarding user load, data volume, and response times. This assessment is critical for ensuring the modernized system meets or exceeds performance expectations.
- Evaluate security and compliance. Conduct a thorough security assessment to identify vulnerabilities and compliance issues in the existing system. Ensure that the modernized system adheres to industry standards and regulatory requirements.
- Review data and integration points. Analyze the existing data model and integration points with other systems. Understand how data is stored, processed, and exchanged. This step is crucial for maintaining data integrity and seamlessly integrating different applications.
- Assess user experience and accessibility. Evaluate the user interface and experience of the legacy system. Identify areas for improvement in terms of usability, accessibility, and responsiveness. User feedback is valuable for shaping the redesign of the user interface.
- Estimate migration costs and risks. Develop a realistic estimate of the costs and potential risks associated with the modernization effort. Consider factors such as data migration, system downtime, and training requirements. This information is vital for budgeting and risk management.
- Prioritize modernization components. Prioritize components or modules of the legacy system for modernization based on business impact, technical feasibility, and dependencies. This step helps in planning a phased approach to modernization.
- Create a roadmap and plan. Develop a detailed roadmap and project plan for the modernization process. Define milestones, timelines, and key deliverables. This plan provides a clear path for the execution of the modernization effort.
Establish a realistic budget encompassing all aspects of the modernization process, including software and hardware costs, training, and potential downtime. Consider short-term and long-term financial implications to ensure a well-funded and sustainable modernization effort.
Selecting appropriate technologies
Selecting appropriate technologies is a crucial aspect of legacy systems modernization. The choice of technologies can significantly impact the success of the modernization effort.
Here are some tips when selecting technologies for modernizing legacy systems:
- Evaluate the current technology stack. Identify outdated or unsupported technologies that need to be replaced. Understanding the system's current state helps select modern technologies that address its limitations.
- Consider travel industry standards and best practices. This ensures that the modernized system is built on a foundation that is widely accepted, well-documented, and supported by a community of developers and experts.
- Assess scalability and performance requirements. Choose technologies that can handle the expected workload, data volume, and user interactions while providing the necessary performance and responsiveness.
- Ensure integration capabilities. Compatibility with existing systems and integration of third-party applications are crucial for a seamless and efficient modernization process.
- Prioritize security and compliance. Security is critical, especially when dealing with sensitive data or upgrading from legacy systems with vulnerabilities.
- Consider cloud-native technologies. Explore cloud-native technologies and services that enhance scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Cloud platforms offer various services that can simplify the development, deployment, and management of modernized systems.
- Plan for interoperability. Ensure that the selected technologies support interoperability with other systems. This is crucial for maintaining a connected and collaborative IT ecosystem, allowing the modernized system to interact seamlessly with other applications.
- Account for future technology trends. Anticipate future technology trends and select technologies that are forward-compatible. This helps build a system that can adapt to evolving business needs and technological advancements.
Assembling a skilled and experienced project team
Start by clearly defining roles and responsibilities, ensuring a well-rounded mix of skills, and leveraging internal talent whenever possible. Assess the existing team's skills, hiring, or providing training to bridge gaps. Include members with expertise in the legacy system, fostering a collaborative culture and effective communication channels within the team. Encourage continuous learning, succession plan, and consider external specialists if required.
Source: The Manifest
By diligently following these steps, travel enterprises can lay a solid foundation for modernizing legacy systems. Each phase contributes to a successful transition, positioning the organization for enhanced efficiency, innovation, and sustained growth.
While critical for staying competitive, modernizing legacy systems in the travel industry comes with formidable challenges. Navigating these hurdles is crucial for a successful modernization experience. Here are some key challenges travel enterprises may face in the process and tips to avoid them:
The travel industry is subject to numerous regulations and compliance standards. Ensuring that the modernized system complies with these regulations while not impeding operational efficiency is a delicate balance.
Solution: Engage legal and compliance experts early in the process. Develop a compliance roadmap, conduct regular audits, and ensure the modernized system meets all regulatory requirements.
Legacy systems, built on outdated architectures, may need more robust security features in today's cyber landscape. Ensuring data security and compliance with modern standards during and after modernization is a critical challenge.
Solution: Implement stringent security protocols during and after modernization. Regularly update security measures, conduct penetration testing, and ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations.
Downtime and business continuity
Minimizing downtime during the modernization process is a constant challenge. Ensuring business continuity while transitioning from legacy to modern systems requires meticulous planning, robust contingency measures, and real-time monitoring.
Solution: Develop a robust contingency plan. Implement changes in phases, conduct thorough testing, and communicate transparently with stakeholders to minimize disruptions.
Budget constraints are a perpetual challenge in legacy system modernization. Unforeseen complexities, extended timelines, and the need for additional resources can lead to cost overruns, putting strain on financial resources.
Solution: Conduct a detailed cost-benefit analysis. Establish a contingency fund, closely monitor project progress, and prioritize critical functionalities to avoid unnecessary expenses.
User adoption and training
Introducing a modernized system often requires a shift in user interfaces and functionalities. Overcoming resistance to change, ensuring a smooth transition, and conducting comprehensive employee training programs are critical challenges in ensuring user adoption.
Solution: Involve end-users from the early stages of planning. Provide comprehensive training programs, offer user-friendly interfaces, and address concerns to foster a positive attitude toward the new systems.
Overcoming the challenges of legacy systems modernization for travel enterprises requires a combination of strategic planning, meticulous execution, and a commitment to addressing concerns proactively.
By adopting a phased approach, leveraging the right technologies, and prioritizing effective change management, travel enterprises can navigate the modernization process successfully and emerge more robust, agile, and better equipped for the demands of the industry.
Onix-Systems has substantial experience in transforming legacy software. For example, we successfully facilitated the modernization of a travel booking website designed explicitly for renting LGBTQ-friendly accommodations, MisterB&B.
Example of how Onix-Systems modernized a travel booking platform
Our client already had an LGBTQ travel booking website and mobile apps for iOS and Android. However, there was a need to enhance performance and expand the product's functionality. Recognizing that the current technology stack was outdated, we proposed the adoption of more advanced and dependable technologies to ensure the optimal operation of the product. For the backend, we implemented RoR, while React was employed for the front end. This strategic use of reliable technologies not only ensured the high operational efficiency of the app but also increased the product's capacity and expanded its functionality.
Also, to improve the platform's efficiency and increase its performance, we provided the following solutions:
Optimizing queries. Analyzing and rewriting queries to minimize the times the database needs to access data, thus shortening response times.
Creating indexes. Defining special structures that help the database quickly locate specific data based on users' queries.
Denormalization. It slightly alters the database structure to reduce the number of joins needed for common queries and speed things up.
Caching strategies. Caching is a crucial technique to improve the app's performance. We reduced expensive computations and database queries by storing frequently accessed data or rendered views, resulting in faster response times.
We used the following caching strategies:
- CDN caching. The CDN can serve the data from the server geographically closest to the user.
- Server caching. It involves storing frequently accessed data on the website’s server. We implement it using various caching mechanisms such as in-memory caching, file-based caching, and database caching.
- Database caching. It involves storing frequently accessed data in memory rather than on disk. We implement it using various tools, such as Memcached and Redis.
- Object caching. It involves caching individual pieces of data, such as database queries and API responses.
UI/UX enhancement. We refined the user interface and experience, enhancing user-friendliness and aligning it with contemporary design standards and accessibility guidelines. Our team employed development practices to ensure the travel booking platform is user-friendly and inclusive for all individuals, including those with disabilities.
Here are some enhancements we provided to improve UI/UX accessibility:
- Enable keyboard navigation for interactive elements like buttons and links.
- Opt for readable fonts and maintain a clear hierarchy of text sizes and styles.
- Provide descriptive and concise labels for links and buttons.
- Use clear labels and offer instructions for form fields.
- Reduce the number of steps required to complete tasks.
- Craft intuitive and straightforward user flows.
- Ensure a seamless user experience across various devices and screen sizes.
- Implement responsive design practices for consistency.
- Guarantee accessibility for users reliant on screen readers.
- Design with progressive enhancement, ensuring that basic functionality is available to all users, with advanced features enhancing the experience.
Travel booking platform built by the Onix-Systems team
Security optimization. We revamped integrations with existing property management platforms and other systems to utilize the new API, ensuring improved security, fewer vulnerabilities, enhanced documentation, and tailored features to meet the specific requirements.
The Onix-Systems team helped our client build a reliable and well-performing platform that delivers a revolutionary and long-overdue travel accommodation service for the LGBTQ community. The service is available on a website and two mobile apps: iOS and Android.
Today, the client is still improving and updating its LGBTQ travel accommodation platform in cooperation with Onix-Systems.
At Onix-Systems, we are committed to delivering not just modernized software, but solutions that propel your business forward with efficiency and innovation.
Upgrading technology is a strategic leap toward a future where travel enterprises are agile, resilient, and equipped to meet the dynamic demands of the industry. By partnering with a strategic partner, travel enterprises can seamlessly transition from the constraints of legacy systems to the boundless possibilities of modernized, agile infrastructures.
The legacy is redefined, and the future promises streamlined operations, elevated user experiences, and sustained relevance in the ever-evolving travel world.
Legacy systems modernization is not just a technological evolution but a strategic necessity, propelling travel enterprises into a future where they navigate with resilience, foresight, and a commitment to excellence.
- How can travel enterprises ensure a smooth transition during the modernization process?
Ensuring a smooth transition during the modernization process in travel enterprises involves thorough planning, comprehensive stakeholder engagement, and effective communication. Establishing clear roadmaps, identifying potential risks, and engaging key stakeholders early contribute to a transparent and collaborative approach. Employee training programs, change management strategies, and phased implementations help avoid concerns and minimize disruptions. Continuous monitoring, optimization, and contingency plans ensure quick responses to challenges, while collaboration with vendors and robust user support systems contribute to a seamless and efficient modernization process.
- How can travel enterprises measure the success of a modernization project?
Travel enterprises can measure the success of a modernization project through a combination of key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with project goals. This involves:
- Evaluating operational efficiency enhancements, such as faster transaction processing and streamlined workflows, to optimize day-to-day operations.
- Gathering user feedback and assessing overall satisfaction indicate how well the modernized system meets end-users expectations.
- Monitoring system performance metrics, including response times and scalability, provides insights into technical improvements.
- Cost savings, reflected in reduced maintenance and infrastructure costs, contribute to the project's financial success.
Ensuring data accuracy, integrity, compliance adherence, and tracking adoption rates paint a comprehensive picture of the modernization project's success.
- Can travel enterprises modernize their systems without significant disruptions to business operations?
While modernizing systems in travel enterprises inevitably involves some change, strategic planning and implementation can minimize disruptions to business operations.
Adopting an incremental approach, where the modernization is phased and prioritized, allows businesses to address critical components without causing widespread interruptions. Additionally, thorough testing at each stage helps identify and resolve issues proactively, preventing operational disruptions. Clear communication with stakeholders, including employees and customers, is essential to manage expectations and ensure a smooth transition. Despite these efforts, it's vital to acknowledge that some disruptions may occur, and contingency plans should be in place to address unforeseen challenges swiftly.
- How can Onix-Systems help modernize legacy systems for travel enterprises?
With a proven track record in technological innovation, Onix-Systems offers tailored solutions to revitalize outdated systems, ensuring enhanced performance, scalability, and security. Our expertise spans strategic planning, technology selection, and seamless migration strategies, empowering travel enterprises to embrace modernization without significant disruptions. By leveraging modern approaches such as cloud migration, API integration, and microservices architecture, Onix-Systems aims to optimize operational efficiency and drive sustained growth for travel businesses.