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Legacy Software Pains in the Development of Technology Products

Legacy Software Pains in the Development of Technology ProductsTooling greatly affects development efficiency in the delivery of modern technology products. Yet some developers still hold on to their entrenched legacy toolchains, hindering their innovation efforts. Here’s why more and more product developers decide to modernize their tool environments.

In product engineering, product quality and the efficiency of development are dependent on a variety of factors. Besides human resources, the organization’s internal culture, as well as the maturity of processes used, a key factor is the effect of tooling.

Product teams at many companies still rely on legacy tooling: outdated but entrenched platforms that these organizations have started using ages ago, and that have become so ingrained in their development approach that updating them would disrupt delivery (anyone familiar with IBM Rational DOORS?).

Related eBook:

DOORS Bridge - Replacing DOORS with Next Generation ALM

Yet an inadequate toolchain can hinder the innovation of modern technology products in multiple ways. In fact, an earlier survey pointed out that “62% of IT leaders said legacy systems were the biggest roadblock to multi-cloud success”.

Here’s why every product team should analyze whether their current tooling matches their needs, and should consider updating their tool environment to replace outdated software.

Tool friction: traceability & maintenance costs

This is a big one. Ultimately, tool friction is the primary reason that sends most companies looking for integrated tooling. What we mean by tool friction is that there is limited integration between standalone, single-purpose software platforms. This harms the consistency of data, resulting in all sorts of problems and ample manual effort to ensure data is adequately transferred across tools.

One of the biggest issues resulting from tool friction is the lack or limited level of traceability. While it hinders the development efforts of all companies, those operating in safety-critical development suffer the most. Because end-to-end traceability from requirements to release is a key regulatory requirements in these industries, product teams relying on outdated tooling have to invest huge amounts of manual effort to establish links across tools.

Finally, an outdated toolchain that combines several disparate tools can also be very costly to manage and maintain. Manually created integrations often break when upgrades are installed, contributing to high maintenance costs. In fact, according to a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. government was looking to spend $90 billion in 2019 on IT services, and a good chunk of that went towards maintaining outdated systems.

Stability & security issues

A fragmented toolchain of outdated legacy tools introduces potential stability problems – with one of your tools down, your entire toolchain can be affected. Having a robust central platform eliminates that problem, and in addition to stability, can actually make for higher performance as well.

A growing number of companies placing more emphasis on cybersecurity concerns is another reason modern, integrated development tooling is becoming the norm. A larger number of tools from several providers (especially if some of these tools are no longer supported) introduces more vulnerability to your toolchain. A single, holistically integrated, and regularly updated platform means more robustness against outside attacks.

Flexibility, features

Most legacy toolchains have historically evolved to support the needs of the specific product development team using it. You’d think that approach results in a tool environment that fits a team like a glove. And you’d be right – except that a software team’s needs are constantly evolving, and a glove that just two years ago fit perfectly tends to feel very tight today… With Agile and DevOps gaining ground, microservices architectures on the rise, the use of Machine Learning and AI spreading in product development, and other tech trends, the tooling built out years ago suddenly starts to look a little less supportive of your team’s needs.

No wonder teams are looking to future-proof their processes by adopting tooling that enables the use of iterative, incremental, and collaborative methods, and offer integration points with cutting-edge tools. Which leads us over to the next important concern.

Compatibility with modern IT solutions

To put it bluntly, outdated tools will never be able to accommodate newer ways of working and more modern technology solutions. Legacy tools may lack integration points or specific features that would allow them to work with new technology.

Similarly, some teams still prefer to hold on to tried and tested tools that continue to support their evolving needs. Adopting a central collaborative development platform, and providing all contributors with a single source of truth doesn’t come at the cost of disrupting current processes. In fact, integration points and an open architecture are good signs that you’re investing in a future-proof development platform when replacing your legacy toolchain.

Overall, updating development tooling is a strategic decision for future-oriented, innovative product teams. Next generation Application Lifecycle Management platforms, such as codeBeamer ALM, are able to unify your existing toolchain without limiting your team or disrupting processes. Find out why teams choose to upgrade to modern ALM tooling:

Making the Case for ALM Download PDF

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