That’s a wrap: A cost-effective alternative to replacing your legacy system

By 4Point

With all the recent advances in technology, we may discount the value of our legacy systems. Based on old technology, these systems are considered incapable of meeting today’s business needs, and many argue they should be replaced. In some cases, that’s true. Most of the time, however, it’s possible to get much more out of an existing legacy system—and yet provide richer, more effective experiences for your users.



An Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) “wrapper” can extend most legacy systems, transforming them into up-to-date systems with all the functional and performance capabilities you need.


After all, most legacy systems still do what they were designed to do. They’re extremely valuable corporate assets. Their business logic and integration points work.  Your legacy system, developed and adapted over time, offers the best representation of your current business processes.


While implementing a whole new system is always expensive, it’s never risk-free. And it won’t necessarily solve all your problems. At least not quickly: established applications transferred to a new platform often don’t work as expected for quite some time.


Many legacy systems perform poorly in three key areas: access, navigation, and ease of use. Today’s users are frustrated by applications that can’t access the Web, that force them to navigate through multiple screens to complete one task and that present an unfriendly, complicated interface.


Here we consider an approach that allows you to resolve those issues while maintaining the best features of your existing system— and while offering users the benefits of the Web and other new technologies.


Firstly, let's consider the topic from  BUSINESS point of view.



Re-platforming risks


History shows that completely replacing the system that drives your business does involve risk. Several potential hazards may be involved:

  • Complete system specifications typically do not exist or have not been updated as the system has evolved. Specifying a new system that is functionally identical to the system in use is a considerable undertaking.
  • An organization’s business processes often end up aligned with the legacy system’s automated processes. It follows that if you replace the system, you will have to revisit the business processes as well.
  • Your current system’s software may contain critical business rules that have not been documented. If those controls are not recreated in the new system, the resulting problems could be difficult to diagnose and resolve.
  • Large software development projects are themselves risky; you just never know what to expect when moving to a new platform. Unfortunately, the implementation of a totally new system often involves unanticipated delays and budget overruns.

Of course, a complete replacement is sometimes necessary so you can meet your business goals or remain compliant. A poorly structured database won’t perform any better when accessed through a web browser, and maintenance costs may become impossible to justify.


In most cases, however, you do not have to rewrite the legacy system. Make those functioning core components accessible from the Web, and you can dramatically improve your end user experience—without changing the parts of your legacy system that are sound.


Wrap it instead


The AEM wrapper approach involves an iterative software development process, which results in manageable bite‑sized projects. These provide immediate business value, with minimal risk. The core, stable capabilities of the legacy system are maintained and front-ended (i.e., wrapped) with an intuitive web user experience that will work on various types of devices: desktop, tablet and mobile.




Since your organization’s business goals are unique, your legacy system will present its own unique set of technical challenges.

The first step is to find out what your users need. What functions and information do they consider essential? What are their pain points?  You need to have a thorough understanding of your users’ requirements and their business needs before IT gets involved. 


In the next blog post we will continue discussing the topic and will take a look at the problem from TECHNOLOGY perspective. 



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