• article
23/05/2024

How to Support Legacy Systems Effectively: Neontri Approach

What is legacy software maintenance, where is it used, and how does proper support impact the product?

Dorota Jasińska

Content Specialist

Andrzej Puczyk

Head of Delivery

In the course of the company, we’ve worked on many products. Some of them are still being developed, and some require only maintenance. Depending on the client’s needs, Neontri offers full support for all projects we’ve worked on. This means that we can refactor an old code, take care of maintenance, and offer ongoing development.

Our portfolio includes clients working with us for over ten years. Such projects usually started with some basic goals that were extended with time. Some of them are legacy software. This means they work on outdated technology, and are still used by customers. Our constant support and refactoring are required to make sure that the software functions well.

What is legacy software maintenance, where is it used, and how does proper support impact the product? There are many reasons why legacy code should be updated to be compatible with the newest technologies. Let’s discuss legacy software first.

Legacy software use cases

Legacy software is often used in banking systems. Core banking systems for account management and transactions may be very old but are used every day by customers. Due to the fact that they operate on big data and in real-time, it’s very hard to update the software without impacting its functionality. For banks, their core functionality cannot be interrupted, so any changes in the system must be well thought through.

Government software is another case where you can encounter legacy software. The government often uses the system to collect taxes, manage public records, and many more. The processes behind processing such data may be hard to modernize, that’s why legacy software is still in use.

Legacy software is also often utilized by air traffic control systems. Such systems are built on legacy software that ensures the safety of air travel. It’s very hard to replace them and avoid disruptions for air traffic controllers. This requires careful planning to ensure constant safety and efficiency of air traffic.

Some retail stores also rely heavily on legacy software as they use old point-of-sale systems. The POS systems enable transaction processing and inventory management. Any changes to the software may impact the transaction flow and may require training staff on how to use the new systems.

Legacy software is also present in many other fields, such as healthcare, education, production facilities, just to name a few. Each update and change must be carefully planned to avoid any disruptions in the system flow.

Impact of outdated technology on the product

Why is it important to keep proper maintenance of the product? Outdated technology can impact the product in many ways.

As the technology advances, old software may have security vulnerabilities. This makes the app open to cyberattacks, which can result in data leaks, etc. Active maintenance of the product should patch all weaknesses in terms of security and ensure proper safety for users.

Aging technology can impact a product’s performance. Outdated technology may lack optimization for modern software and hardware. As a result, loading time may increase, and users may encounter compatibility issues or app crashes. Software maintenance also addresses these issues and helps update the product to the modern environment.

Old technologies can also limit the product’s functionality. Without proper maintenance or development, the product may lack new features widely available in modern systems. Such problems often result in a loss of competitive advantage in the market.

Another issue that may arise from legacy software is integration challenges. If the client needs the product to be integrated with new systems, it may be time-consuming. However, if it’s not done, the product may not be able to adapt to the changing environment and technological landscape. Software maintenance takes care of this issue and allows updating the software to integrate it with modern technologies.

We know all the reasons why proper maintenance is so important. That’s why we offer comprehensive services of support, maintenance, refactoring and audit, depending on the client’s product and expectations.

Our support

What does our support include? Knowing the needs of our clients, we offer the support they require the most – full-time on-call availability with fast bug fixing and solutions. The error-fixing flow starts with a report from our client that is verified, analyzed, and addressed by our team.

Our support team is available 24/7 and can fix critical issues or non-critical errors. Every person on the call can help. The team knows the projects, so they’re equipped to react to an issue without spending additional time learning documentation. Moreover, the person responsible for the report has bug-fixing skills to react quickly to an issue. Our dedicated team takes care of fixes quickly and effectively.

Why Neontri?

Our company has been delivering custom software solutions for over a decade to key financial institutions in Poland. In the course of our cooperation, we took care of creating tailored projects for our clients and complex maintenance which included technology updates.

Over the years, we built lasting relationships with our clients thanks to our reliability. Our support teams are ready to address and solve any issues 24/7 and prepare a fix within just a few hours to make sure our clients’ service is working properly at all times.

We provide constant support for typical maintenance tasks but also refactoring and technical debt. We worked on a comprehensive refactoring of an app for the national financial institution. We meticulously addressed the accumulated technical debt and revitalized the project’s architecture by introducing modern technologies. This has greatly streamlined the project’s maintenance process and reduced the technological footprint necessary to sustain its operations.

We also changed the backend structure from monolithic to microservices as part of refactoring task for another financial institution. This required careful analysis and preparation and proper enrollment of the new technology. It was essential not to impact the operations of the financial institution that was used by millions of customers.

Our team also took care of refactoring of intricate C++ code into native mobile technologies. We has to transform the complex security and communication-related codebase to leverage the efficiency of native mobile platforms. It required understanding of complex security and communication protocols, as well as deep understanding of both C++ and mobile development frameworks.

We can also perform an in-depth audit of any codebase and prepare a solution for refactoring and maintenance. We have already worked on audits of an old legacy codebase that became a long-term partnership with our support and complex maintenance.

These are just a few of the tasks we performed over time. There are countless other cases of regular maintenance and preparation of complex solutions for specific needs and problems for our clients.

Support flow

How does it work step by step? The client reports a problem that is described in a ticket. Then, the problem is verified and analyzed in order to present the possible solution to the client. It may happen that the proposed solution needs to be discussed with the client as it may involve some changes to the product.

Once the solution is accepted, we move on to the development phase and create proper documentation. Then, the solution gets tested, and we check if any other bugs appear during the process. When all’s ready, the client can check our fix and test the solution. This is the moment when the client can accept it or report any issues. If no problems arise, we deploy the fix on production.

However, it may happen that the issue reported by the client is critical and impacts the availability or performance of the product. That’s why our support team is able to create a patch within a few hours that solves the main issue and work on a proper fix as soon as possible. We know how important it is for our clients to provide reliable services. That’s why we’re available 24/7 and offer a hotfix within just a few hours.

Such situations are very rare but may impact the product’s performance significantly. Immediate solution is a must, so we make sure the people responsible for the fix are qualified and ready to react as soon as possible.

We offer different kinds of support and are open to cooperation on individual cases, whether it’s taking over the development of a product, maintenance, refactoring, or audit.

Legacy software types by maintenance

We offer a few types of support. All of them include maintenance and the rest depends on the client’s needs. We can continue to develop the product or refactor an old one. All options are possible. Our teams can work on any technology and provide critical support within a few hours as we’re available 24/7.

Maintenance only

Products that require only maintenance are usually based on legacy software. They may be built with older technologies, apps, or systems, but are still crucial for the client. Such legacy software is often used in core banking systems or government systems. That’s why it’s so important to take care of their maintenance.

These apps may be simple and single-function. Maintenance includes bug fixes and performance improvements to ensure compatibility with new technologies and devices. They usually don’t require significant changes because their main feature doesn’t need to be developed further with new features.

Still, every program even with a single function may need some adjustments through maintenance to keep up with changing security settings and legal regulations. The tweaks are minor and are usually considered basic maintenance.

Such software may have a significant role for the company and clients, and replacing it entirely is often very risky. This software handles essential tasks; sometimes, many people rely on it.

Our support includes bug fixing and solving errors that appear in the software, but also taking care of the proper security of the project. In time it may be necessary to refactor and upgrade it gradually to a newer technology. It may be the case that it’s cheaper to keep the legacy software with maintenance instead of overhauling it to a new technology.

Ongoing development with maintenance

Another type of products we support are those that are based on legacy software and developed at the same time. These products require proper maintenance and the development of new features. Depending on the client’s needs, the features are prepared within a specific timeframe and the maintenance of the old systems is carried out simultaneously.

To give you a general idea of this type of maintenance, a great example of such a product is Microsoft Office Suite. While apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have been around for years, they are still being developed and upgraded. Microsoft works on new features in updated application versions, but their core system and functionalities stay the same.

It’s often the case that banking apps use legacy software but need to add new features with the development of technology and increasing customer needs. Also, to keep the competitive edge. That’s why apart from the basic maintenance, they build on the old infrastructure by adding new blocks of code that make further improvements possible.

The necessity of development may stem from many factors, including changing security requirements, legal regulations, technical advancement, and user needs. The development of all new features and potential tweaks to regulations are taken care of by a dedicated team specializing in specific tasks.

Refactoring and maintenance without development

It may happen that a product gets so outdated that it becomes legacy and requires refactoring to provide proper maintenance in the future. For example, if an application had a backend built in monolithic architecture, any errors would cause the whole product to malfunction.

To avoid such situations, it may be necessary to divide the monolith into smaller parts called microservices. This way, when a microservice breaks, it may cause one feature to fail instead of the whole app. Also, fixing a microservice is much easier compared to a monolithic architecture.

The necessity of refactoring may appear with time when the product is significantly outdated. Then, if it’s not possible to update the software to a newer technology, refactoring is the solution.

One example of refactoring in a publicly available application is Mozilla Firefox. The browser needed a significant performance boost, so they created a new rendering engine, Quantum. The refactoring process was implemented to improve the performance, modernize the codebase, and keep the competitive edge.

Maintenance vs. refactoring

When is maintenance needed, and when is refactoring needed? We’ll help determine what’s best for your product and provide a complex audit of your product’s codebase. Let’s look at what these two processes involve first.

Software maintenance refers to bug fixing, performance improvements, and general tweaks to make the software run smoothly. It may include implementing security patches, fixing errors reported by users, and updating the code to make it compatible with new systems or hardware. All these changes must be reflected in the documentation.

Refactoring is a type of maintenance, but this one introduces significant changes to the code. It may involve the overall improvement of the code’s internal structure while keeping its functionality. Refactoring makes it easier for developers to understand and modify the code in the future. This results in faster bug fixing and other improvements if necessary.

The specific type of maintenance provided to the product depends on the company’s needs and also other factors. The decision when and if refactoring is required should be a well-informed one, as it may impact the functionality of the product.

If the product is operational and encounters some bugs but doesn’t have compatibility issues, basic maintenance should be sufficient. However, if the product encounters serious problems and its performance is impacted, refactoring should be considered. The right solution depends on specific issues and needs of the product.

Conclusion

Proper product maintenance is key to its reliability. Outdated technology is a source of security risks, performance issues, limited functionality, but also decreased competitiveness in the market. Proper maintenance should address all the above by patching security vulnerabilities, improving performance and compatibility issues, adding new features, and helping with modern technology integration. This ensures the stability, security, and reliability of the product, which is very often the core of the business.

Considering all the above, Neontri has everything required to provide full-time, reliable support and maintenance services. With over ten years of experience and skills, our developers are capable of addressing all issues that may arise. We react quickly, know the environment, and are ready to provide the client with a quick and reliable solution.

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Agata Tomasik
Board Member
Head of Outsourcing
agata.tomasik@neontri.com

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