Legacy Apps vs. Modern Apps: 4 Key Differences

Legacy Apps vs. Modern Apps

Today’s consumers demand a high-quality digital experience. The rapid delivery of software goods and services has become critical to a business’s success. But, many organizations are trying to operate in a transformed digital landscape with outdated legacy systems. 

Legacy applications are built using outdated methodologies and architectures. They’re often not flexible or agile enough to handle today’s digital needs. They’re difficult to integrate with modern technologies like the cloud. And they can create bottlenecks that prevent companies from innovating and releasing products to market at a fast enough pace. 

Companies using legacy apps may experience challenges with increased maintenance costs and a lack of vendor or developer support. To stay competitive, businesses are moving toward modern applications. 

Here, we’ll look at four key differences between legacy and modern applications. But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the drawbacks of legacy systems, as well as what defines a modern application.

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Disadvantages of Legacy Applications

Legacy applications are created using traditional application development methodologies based on monolithic architectural models. This means that the application’s code, services, and other components are highly integrated, making the application harder to scale and adapt to changing environments. 

A monolithic design also means that if one part of the application fails, the entire application will fail as well. Troubleshooting a legacy application also takes longer. To find the problem, developers have to debug the entire application, which results in greater downtime. 

Because of this interconnected design, legacy applications are often inefficient, unstable, and unsuitable for meeting the challenges and objectives of digital transformation. To stay agile and innovative, businesses need modern applications.

What Are Modern Applications?

Modern applications are built using agile development methodologies and DevOps practices, modular architecture, and serverless operational models. They offer greater agility, scalability, portability, and resiliency than legacy applications. They allow organizations to innovate faster while reducing time to market and total cost of ownership. 

Modern applications can scale on demand to handle millions of users and run across multiple platforms, including on-premises and cloud-based environments. The modern application development process automates much of the operational overhead associated with legacy application development. As a result, teams can focus on business logic and release higher-quality applications.

4 Key Differences Between Legacy and Modern Applications

Shorter Development Life Cycles

Legacy applications built using traditional methods take longer to develop and update. Development cycles and new feature releases can take months or even years to complete.

Traditional development processes, like the waterfall method, follow a sequential process. It begins with defining the requirements of the entire project and creating the project documents and architectural models from which the code will be written. When requirements change, this entire process must be revisited so that developers can code the new requirements. This makes it difficult for teams to release software at a rapid pace. 

The biggest difference between legacy and modern application development is the use of agile development practices, DevOps, and continuous integration/delivery (CI/CD) processes that allow developers to release applications in short, continuous cycles.

Agile and DevOps practices encourage close collaboration between development and operations teams. This results in a faster and smoother transfer of applications to production without compromising quality, stability, and security. Continuous integration (CI) automates manual and repetitive build, testing, and deployment processes. Continuous delivery (CD) seamlessly moves the application through the stages of the pipeline until it’s released. 

These agile practices and technologies all contribute to a shorter application development life cycle.

Built on Cloud Infrastructure

Legacy applications are built using server-centric infrastructure designed only for on-premises development and deployment. They’re typically OS-dependent and require a specific environment, including server and network hardware, databases, and storage resources. 

The close dependencies between the application and its underlying operating system, hardware, storage, and support services make it difficult to migrate and scale the application to a new infrastructure. As the underlying infrastructure of a legacy application ages, it becomes harder and more expensive to maintain. 

Modern apps are built for cloud environments, which makes them more flexible and scalable. Cloud-native architectures allow developers to abstract the application away from its dependencies using managed services like compute, memory, and storage from cloud providers. Developers can use cloud services such as storage as a service (STaaS), containers as a service (CaaS), or functions as a service (FaaS) to make applications even more scalable.

Cloud solutions increase the speed of application development by spreading resources across different environments. Resources can be housed in public clouds supported by Amazon or Google, in private on-premises cloud solutions for more security, or using hybrid-cloud architectures for the best of both worlds. 

In the serverless cloud computing model, developers don’t need to provision servers or scale resources for application development. Cloud vendors handle this. As a result, developers can push code to production faster. With serverless cloud architecture, apps can respond to demand and scale up or down as needed.

Service-Based Architecture

Legacy applications are usually single-tier software applications where the application’s codebase and services are built into a single deployment package. This tight coupling results in dependencies between services that make legacy applications more difficult to scale and update as the codebase grows.   

With no clear separation between the distinct elements, a new version of the entire application must be deployed when one part of the application is updated. Similarly, a bug in one element of the application affects the functionality of the entire application.

 Modern applications replace the tightly integrated architectures of legacy systems with loosely coupled, service-based architectures that can communicate through APIs. They’re built with modular independent components called microservices that are used to break up applications into smaller services. Each service is developed independently, making it possible to release more frequent, independent updates.

Microservices run in containers, runtime environments that contain all the elements needed to run the microservice. Containerization allows microservices to run on any platform capable of running containerized services without special infrastructure. Modern applications benefit from decoupled datastores as each microservice can have its own purpose-built database. Decoupling data and microservices means teams can choose the database that best fits the needs of the functionality being developed.

Automated Processes

With legacy applications, IT teams have to manually provision, manage, and maintain servers, networks, and storage configurations. Humans can be slower to diagnose issues than computers. They can also fail to adequately implement corrective measures in complicated situations. As a result, manual processes slow down traditional release pipelines. Each step done manually introduces the opportunity for errors and delays.

Modern application development has automated release pipelines that speed up software releases. Modern applications use automated processes throughout the entire development life cycle. This automation helps improve operational efficiency by reducing human error and automatically identifying and resolving application issues. 

Modern applications use automation in several ways, including the automatic scaling of cloud infrastructure for processing power, memory, and storage capacity. Technologies such as infrastructure as code (IaC) allow developers to create templates that can be automatically deployed to provision entire technology stacks and application development environments. 

In the application process itself, automation is used within the DevOps pipeline to facilitate automated code builds, testing, and deployment. Modern applications automate the manual steps of traditional development to create a repeatable CI/CD process that speeds up application development.

Leave Legacy Behind with Pure and DevOps

Legacy applications often can’t meet today’s requirements for speed and flexibility. To innovate quickly and deliver value to their customers, organizations should utilize modern applications.

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