Evolving Legacy Systems through Cloud APIs

Mike Erlindson

We’ve been asked a lot lately on the best approach for evolving legacy systems to the cloud.

A legacy system is usually an internal application running within a client’s IT environment. Examples may be a VBA or Java application accessible through Citrix or through RDC (remote desktop connection).

There a number of reasons clients want to evolve their legacy system such as:

  1. Older technology is fragile and difficult to maintain.
  2. Does not meet the requirements of a modern, mobile workforce.
  3. Does not meet the requirements of modern, mobile clients.
  4. A dated interface may mean a crammed user panel which doesn’t take advantage of modern UX techniques employees are familiar with. This creates a steep learning curve for administrative users.

In each case CIOs are faced with three options:

  1. Keep upgrading the legacy application. The main issue with this is a software development workforce which is increasingly unfamiliar with the application code. This may also be an expensive proposition. In the IT world, this scenario is known as the hamster wheel. Your entire IT focus is spent rebuilding the legacy application over and over again.
  2. Switch to an entirely new off-the-shelf software product. This presents a number of challenges:
    1. What happens to the legacy data?
    2. How do you seamlessly switchover from one system to a completely new one without an interruption in business processes?
    3. What is the learning curve with the new software for your staff?
    4. What if the new software doesn’t meet all your business requirements?
  3. Evolve the legacy application by adding API hooks that expose the application to the Web.

Please see the flowchart below for an overview of how to evolve legacy systems through APIs to the cloud:

Approach to Integrate Legacy Systems through APIs to the Cloud - Legacy Systems to API Mobile Web Application

Approach to Integrate Legacy Systems through APIs to the Cloud – Legacy Systems to API Mobile Web Applications

We like this approach for a number of reasons:

  1. It has lower overall cost than rebuilding the legacy application or switching to a new software product.
  2. It has lower risk because you can continue using the legacy system as-is while you bridge to the responsive access and mobile apps.
  3. Functionality embedded in the legacy application can be pushed out in phases with different sets of APIs giving staff and customers an easier learning curve.
  4. The APIs would be extensible to a wider range of future external applications.
  5. In the n-stage of the web application development you may be mirroring the legacy system entirely. This will make it easier to either pull all of the data out of the legacy system. Or you can use the web application as the foundation for all future development then phase out the legacy system entirely.

Do you need help adding cloud API connectivity to your legacy software?

Custom cloud software development is our core offering. Do you need expert advice? Contact Soulfx or call 1-877-827-4555 xt. 228 and we’ll help get you started.


About The Author

Mike Erlindson is the President & CEO of Soulfx Technologies. He manages the design and development teams and has worked on hundreds of projects for clients in a wide range of industries. He previously worked at the Southam Infolab, Cyberplex and was Senior Producer of The Toronto Star Online.

He’s been both an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Ontario and an Associate Professor at Centennial College teaching classes on User Experience Design and Client Service for Technology Consultants.

His entire career intersects content and technology. Always on the cutting edge, his masters degree research paper about online newspapers won the top award of his graduate school class.

Mike can be found at:

About Soulfx

Soulfx specializes in digital strategy, user experience design and cloud software development. Our software applications help clients become more efficient which increases revenue and decreases costs. Client industries include health sciences, pharmaceuticals, financial services, insurance, government and education. Contact Soulfx or call 1-877-827-4555 xt. 228