legacy software upgrades

5 Things that Cause Legacy Upgrades to Fail

Upgrading your software or operating systems is a necessary part of any business. Legacy upgrades are a special challenge for businesses that have been running for many years. If you set up your computer systems in the nineties or naughts, or even in the early teens then you will eventually need to overhaul your technology to conform to the latest operating systems and business software. It’s what we call a good kind of problem. After all, you’ve been in business so long that the software for that business has improved significantly during your run.

However, one of the biggest challenges of this good kind of problem is legacy upgrades. What this means is trying to lay the new software on top of your old tech configurations. Legacy upgrades are meant to work over one or two version changes of the same software. However, long-jump legacy upgrades or moving to all-new software choices means you will need to start from scratch. Why? Let’s take a look at five things most likely to cause a legacy upgrade to fail.

1) Updated Function Handling

A function is a software process that takes variables and produces a result. But how those functions are handled changes from version to version, and from one type of software to the next. If your entire tech stack is based on working with older functions, it can be difficult to impossible to make a smooth transition to the new functions.

Even if you’re upgrading the same software to a new version, the new version may handle old functions with new variables and outputs. Your old configurations will likely break in transition.

2) Abandonware

The perfect business stack for your company five or ten years ago might have included software that is no longer supported. This is called abandonware. Unfortunately, there are few guarantees that any particular software developer will stay in business or continue making updates. If latest versions aren’t available and compatible with your new tech stack, then there may be whole aspects of your old tech stack that can’t be used in the new stack. This means a legacy upgrade would be incomplete because the old stack includes elements of abandonware, software that can’t be upgraded and won’t integrate with the latest software.

3) New Config Files

Even if you’re upgrading the same brand and line of software to a new version, sometimes profound things have changed. Often, the technique for legacy upgrades is to keep your old config files and apply them to the upgraded software installation. This can work for small recent-to-latest upgrades if all the configuration settings are the same. But if configurations have changed so that the variables and settings are different or have different meanings, then your configs will break during the upgrade.

4) Replaced Components

Along similar lines, entire elements of your software can change from one version to the next. New features may have been added, new functions or old outdated features or functions may have been removed. Drastic changes in the components of your software mean that overlaying the new update onto your old installation can cause breaks, data loss, and configuration conflicts to say the least.

5) Corrupted Data

Another unfortunately common problem is data corruption. A big part of a legacy upgrade is small alterations of data to fit into the new software functions or data handling methods. However, this transition of data, sometimes changing a single variable in thousands of data points, has a high chance of corruption. This is when your data is damaged by the attempt to programmatically upgrade it. It’s much safer to intentionally transfer your data from the old tech-stack into the new software.

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