“Legacy systems contain outdated hardware & software that is often difficult to replace”
We asked Leo Brand, CIO at Vopak, and Paulo Rosado, CEO and founder at OutSystems some questions about modernizing legacy systems. They discuss what kind of problems companies encounter when using legacy systems, why they should update after legacy systems become obsolete.
JAXenter: Let’s discuss how dependencies on legacy systems prevent companies from modernizing. What was the legacy system your company was using and when did you decide to modernize?
Leo Brand: After Oracle announced it would stop supporting the JD Edwards ERP system in 2024, we decided to rethink our entire IT strategy. We tested two off-the-shelf systems, which were simply too restrictive to meet all of our customers’ requirements. Realizing that only a modern application platform was suited to our vision, we adopted OutSystems to modernize our extensive app portfolio at a faster pace than we thought possible.
JAXenter: What problems was using a legacy system causing in the organization?
Leo Brand: Since support for the JD Edwards ERP system was sunsetting, our team brainstormed a new digital innovation strategy. We examined a range of modern application development platforms and found that only OutSystems was mature enough to allow multiple roll-out scenarios with connections to AWS and on-premises.
JAXenter: Is using legacy systems a security concern, and if so, how?
Leo Brand: Legacy systems don’t perform like they once did, and many have downgraded support for users. This was the case with Oracle’s announcement with the JD Edwards ERP system, which made it difficult for companies like ours to update and maintain our systems, which inhibits business growth. Because of this, security was a major concern that contributed to our decision to overhaul our entire digital transformation strategy. A modern approach to development ensures that all software – whether it be for internal or customer-use, or even mobile or web apps – is built not only at a faster pace but to the security, scale and quality required.
Paulo Rosado: Legacy systems contain outdated hardware and software that is often difficult to replace. This leads to companies relying on outdated software that cannot accommodate security best practices. These older systems tend to have inherent security vulnerabilities and may not be compatible with updated security features and sufficient encryption methods. With modern application development platforms, you don’t have to worry about it and developers can focus on their creativity and expression in building serious applications. The benefit is far less friction, errors and technical debt, and constantly updated security requirements.
JAXenter: Why do organizations continue to use legacy systems, even long past they’ve stopped receiving maintenance?
Leo Brand: I’m not sure why companies continue to use legacy systems that they know are becoming obsolete and aren’t meeting their needs. For us, as soon as Oracle announced it would sunset support for the JD Edwards ERP system, we needed to rethink how this would impact our digital innovation strategy, particularly in a world where cloud-native applications are becoming standard. All of this led us to future-proof our digital transformation with OutSystems and ensure our ability to innovate long term.
JAXenter: Decision-makers in organizations can be wary of pivoting away from legacy software. Why is this? How difficult is it to modernize and move past a legacy system?
Leo Brand: Executives may be hesitant to modernize their organizations due to big hits to time and resources. We evaluated a range of modern application development platforms to find a digital solution that would assist with our legacy escape and tested two off-the-shelf platforms. We found both too difficult to customize and took too long to deliver applications into production. This slowed down our ability to innovate quickly. As the world’s largest independent tank terminal operator, we need to make sure that our applications meet our customers’ needs. OutSystems has the most complete solution that lets us achieve multiple roll-out scenarios. Working with OutSystems, we benefit from robust and agile development that has helped us modernize a large app portfolio in an amazingly short time frame.
JAXenter: How does agility improve with modernization and what new abilities did your organization gain from increasing its agility?
Leo Brand: A modern software development approach allows us to build custom applications, bringing them to the business as a PaaS and allowing us to implement changes at the drop of a hat. It also helps us innovate our core processes – really putting us in front of our competition. The switch from slow-to-change ERP to fast visual development meant we needed to embrace agile to get the most from OutSystems. We therefore trained our development team to become a self-sufficient agile software factory. We experienced a 4x agility boost thanks to OutSystems, allowing us to get new capabilities to market sooner and freeing up more time to deliver customer value.