Revisiting legacy systems and legacy modernization from the industrial perspective
Belfrit Victor, .
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Throughout many years of systems engineering development, a plethora of research has been conducted in an academia regarding legacy systems and legacy modernization. Their works have been resulted in papers, journals, and other products. According to some authors, legacy systems can be defined as a complex and critical system that work well, although it was developed with an outdated technology (software and hardware). They resist of modification and evolution, difficult to understand, and there is scarcity of experts/knowledge, and are inflexible towards new business requirements. The reports from the academic field clearly indicate the legacy systems as the systems that bring difficulties. The problems such as difficult to maintain, limited supplier/vendor, lack of experts/knowledge and integration issues are common in legacy systems. In addition, the old system also has their lifetime and at some point they cannot be expanded anymore. Hence, there is momentum to modernize legacy systems in order to support organizations’ business requirements. From industrial perspective, business requirements are also evolving and they need more flexible, robust, and agile systems. Organizations cannot depend on their old systems any longer since they are difficult to maintain and the knowledge around it are diminishing. The problems mentioned above are having serious impact on the organization and hence, contributing towards higher maintenance costs. However, many multinational organizations now are still running their business in their legacy systems for so many reasons. A survey in 2008 in the United States revealed that more than 50% of their IT systems are classified as legacy systems. Furthermore, Gartner Group in 1997 reported that 80% of the world's business ran on COBOL with over 200 billion lines of code in existence and with an estimated 5 billion lines of new code annually. In addition, the TIOBE index also reports that COBOL as one of the most popular languages ever used. Based on this fact, it is clear that there is a different way of perceiving the legacy systems in academia and in industry. Therefore, this research aims at finding the different perception of legacy systems between academia and industry. The Grounded Theory method has been used to interview legacy experts from the industry and the results were validated through survey with 104 participants through online surveys during 3,5 weeks. The study revealed that the legacy systems are not merely about IT, but also involve business and organization aspect. Academies tend to see the legacy systems from a technical point of view which leads to bad impression of the systems. However, professional in the industry see the legacy system more from the business value of the system. Consequently, problems from the technical side of the legacy systems are not really the problems for professionals in industry unless the problems disturb their business process.