How Legacy Modernization with WeKan and MongoDB Atlas Helps Meet Evolving Consumer Demands

Dana Groce,Pablo Jimenez, and Ranjan Moses

#Partners#Modernization

COVID-19 has accelerated the growth and adoption of digital economies across the globe, and the businesses best positioned to keep pace with related changes in consumer behavior and demand will continue to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

According to a consumer study by FIS Global that surveyed participants to understand changes in recent buying behaviour and patterns, consumers have spent 58% more money online since the pandemic started. What’s more, 42% of respondents stated an increase in purchases from local/independent small businesses, and 27% of consumers have subscribed to one new online streaming platform.

Large institutions and household brands can not risk complacency if they want to maintain market share. The customer loyalty of today will be captured by the companies that act with agility and optimize data to deliver the most seamless, custom experience for consumers. Unsurprisingly, business models that have prioritized and directed resources towards aligning their processes with digital transformation are better placed to deal with customer behaviour shifting into the digital realm.

And yet, innumerable businesses are plagued by the limitations of their legacy IT systems when trying to modernize their digital experience.

For many organizations, legacy systems are seen as holding back the business initiatives and business processes that rely on them...when a tipping point is reached, application leaders must look to application modernization to help remove the obstacles

Stefan Van Der Zijden, VP Analyst, Gartner

Continued use of these systems holds back businesses’ potential for revenue generation and building customer-facing credibility; but modernizing them reaps worthy rewards. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. This post will detail how organizations can undertake this modernization process, often termed “legacy modernization,” so as to leverage the speed, agility, and responsiveness required to succeed in a digital-first marketplace.

What is legacy modernization?

Legacy modernization refers to the process of updating an organization’s antiquated IT stack to align with new-age business goals and workflows. To drive innovation, business leaders need to be supported by technology that can help implement their goals in the real world. They need fast-paced, highly connected systems with minimal-to-zero downtime, and platforms or dashboards that provide cohesive and easily comprehensible views of the entire ecosystem.

Generally, legacy IT stacks are incapable of meeting these standards which is where legacy modernization comes in.

Defining legacy systems and 4 major drawbacks

Essentially, a legacy system is any software or technological system that slows down an organization’s business growth and its ability to shift and adapt to changing market forces. If a software setup is unable to integrate with newer systems, workflows or processes, it qualifies as “legacy.”

Generally the incompatibility of legacy technologies, and the bottlenecks that come with them, lead to major issues related to maintenance, support, updates, integration and overall user experience. Think of it this way: using a legacy system in 2021 is comparable to driving a Prius with an engine made in 2000.

Legacy solutions lack flexibility and carry a significant technology debt due to dated languages, databases, architectures, and a limited supply of aging baby-boomer programmers.

a Deloitte Study on Legacy Systems and Modernization

The business impact of legacy systems are varied, but often adverse. They include:

1. Inability to act with agility and meet demand

Generally, legacy systems can only be accessed from office computers. But in a digital-first world, mobile devices are at the core of digital transformation. If employees cannot access necessary software from anywhere at any time, their productivity and operational capacity is severely limited. The link between software and employee performance has, in fact, been well-documented.

For instance, in 2015, a computer running a 23 year-old operating system (Windows 3.1) caused planes to be grounded at Paris’ Orly airport for several hours. Needless to say, customers were not happy.

2. Decreased employee productivity and customer satisfaction

Everyday people are at the heart of digital transformation. If a business wants to attract and retain customers who are increasingly reliant on their internet-powered mobile devices for day-to-day activities and transactions, they have to meet them online. And if they want to attract top talent, they need to equip their employees with the tools and agility needed to innovate. Being saddled with legacy systems will prevent companies from using newer apps and providing the best possible customer service, support and experience.

Additionally, sub-par employee performance and customer service will inevitably cause financial loss due to unsatisfied customers and missed opportunities for expansion.

3. Scalability issues and security risks

Legacy software is usually incapable of scaling up, which poses major obstacles to business growth. In a competitive marketplace, businesses must be able to shift strategy and optimize according to market forces, for which they need the support of their IT stack. An excellent example of this is how companies have had to adapt to remote work becoming the ‘new normal’ due to the global pandemic.

The IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report puts the average cost of a data breach at USD 3.92 million. Legacy software almost always has glaring flaws in its security mechanisms for multiple reasons: withdrawal of manufacturer support, lack of updates and regular maintenance, difficulties in fixing vulnerabilities within outdated systems. Issues like security breaches will significantly harm brand credibility and repel customers from entrusting the business with their data.

4. Higher costs

Administrative, support and maintenance costs are unnecessarily high when companies have to work with legacy software. Additionally, hiring and training new employees, especially developers, is difficult since there is a shortage of coders trained in legacy languages like COBOL and Natural.

Most legacy systems are hosted on premise, which translates to enormous and unnecessary overhead related to maintenance and upgrades. These costs are easily eliminated by leveraging cloud computing platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure.

Despite these glaring inadequacies, the pandemic has revealed how far too many organizations continue to rely on aging IT systems. In a 2020 AppDynamics Report, 66% of technologists say “the pandemic has exposed weaknesses in their digital strategy, driving an urgent need to push through initiatives which were once a part of multi-year digital transformation programs.”

A roadmap for legacy modernization

The journey to legacy modernization can be an intensive one, but there are proven best practices and expert guidance to help you get started. Galvanize the key players in your organization and get started by asking the right questions:

  • What resources can be assigned to the modernization endeavour?
  • Do your employees possess the skills to operate the new systems?
  • What are the specific competitive advantages that modernization needs to provide for your organization?
  • Is there a separate support and retirement schedule in place for your legacy system?
  • Should modernization occur in a single shift or in phases? How will this affect our business?

Escaping the pressures imposed by unwieldy tech stacks has become possible with microservices and cloud-based application development and/or usage. The trick lies in decentralizing business tech offerings by migrating them from Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) to the Cloud via scalable solutions like MongoDB Atlas, MongoDB's hosted database-as-a-service offering.

Moving from monolith to microservices architecture can be complex, but offers multiple long-term advantages across multiple parameters. Refactoring monolithic systems requires carefully constructed strategies, the most successful of which are drawn from the Strangler Pattern approach.

How do we modernize from existing legacy systems?

  1. Initiate new functionalities as microservices: Every time a business has to implement a new functionality or feature, they can incorporate it as a microservice instead of adding it to the existing monolith architecture. Not only does this prevent the legacy stack from expanding, but allows stakeholders to become acquainted with the advantages of microservice ecosystems.
  2. Dismantle the monolith: Once microservices have been introduced into an organization’s ecosystem, monolith structures need to be deconstructed for eventual elimination.

Companies like FedEx and CitiBank have attested to the success of a microservices-based strategy with real world implementation. To quote FedEx CIO Rob Carter, “We began to build out the services and microservices that represent the less complex, more flexible, faster-to-market capabilities that we have today.”

CitiBank, too, opted for migrating its monolith system to a microservices-based architecture so as to accelerate digital transformation.

How WeKan and MongoDB Atlas can help

Implementing successful, sustainable and scalable legacy modernization requires expertise in executing on the process itself, as well as the right tools that can understand and adapt to an organization’s unique needs and business goals. Databases and platforms like MongoDB and its tool suite help address the challenges of replatforming from monolith to microservice.

MongoDB Atlas is the leading choice of general purpose databases for modernization. As a document-based, distributed database, MongoDB reduces time spent on development cycles and empowers developers with flexible schema and the tools they need to maintain productivity. A leap forward from traditional RDBMS, MongoDB Atlas's smart infrastructure helps organizations scale effortlessly and maintain business-critical reliability while driving lower TCO, reducing security risk, and remaining ACID compliant.

Complementary to MongoDB, WeKan’s Modernization process is composed of 5 phases that aim to scope an optimal modernization journey for any business operating on legacy systems and looking for a better return on their technology investment:

  1. Diagnosis phase – The first step is to understand the current state of the business, its most critical pain points and identify major inefficiencies that can be solved through technology modernization.
  2. Prescription phase – With a good understanding of the business’ state, we propose reference solution architectures that can address most critical pain points and enhance overall performance of their technology ecosystem with a focus on always reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) and increasing ROI on their technology spend.
  3. Validation phase – After gathering potential solutions, we then validate through POCs their tech viability, expected outcomes and leverage results from these efforts to narrow down and select the option that is best suited to the business’ needs.
  4. Requirements definition phase – With a target solution in hand, we work on defining the technical requirements and specifications of the proposed solution to ensure seamless integration to the overall technology ecosystem.
  5. Execution and Implementation phase – With the right solution architecture, technical requirements in place, and a proposed modernization plan, our modernization consultants work hand-in-hand with internal stakeholders on the development, testing, delivery and implementation of the proposed modernized solution.

According to the World Economic Forum, digital transformation could generate more than $100 trillion by 2025. Without legacy modernization, businesses will miss out on tapping into revenue streams offered by the digital economy. It is integral for organizations to leverage the many advantages of modernization so that they may gain and retain a competitive edge in a constantly connected and perpetually online marketplace.

To learn more about WeKan and MongoDB Atlas's efficacy in organization-centric digital transformation, refer to our case study with RideKleen.

After migrating operations to AWS, WeKan chose MongoDB Atlas, Atlas Data Lake and MongoDB Realm as their central data platform. Atlas offers a fully managed cloud database service with built-in automation, Atlas Data Lake provides federated query capabiliites to natively data query across MongoDB and AWS S3, while MongoDB Realm simplifies the critical edge-to-cloud sync and provides backend services to speed development work, including triggers, functions, and GraphQL.

RideKleen case study

Watch how MongoDB’s industry-best modernization services helped OTTO, Germany’s #2 global e-commerce provider and #1 site for e-commerce, fashion and lifestyle.