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The 4 Biggest Risks of a Legacy Software Upgrade

Any time a business is looking to upgrade the company software, there are two options. On one hand, you can try to install the new system on top of the old system, a legacy upgrade. On the other hand, you can perform a fresh install and then migrate all your data and special configurations into the new software. Both come with risks.

It’s no surprise that many businesses opt for the first option. Of course, you want to save yourself the effort of migrating data and re-configuring the upgraded version of your business software. And it even works sometimes. However, when doing your cost-benefit analysis, it’s important to be aware of the potential costs of a legacy upgrade in addition to the known time consumption of a fresh install and migration.

The Four Biggest Risks of Attempting a Legacy Upgrade

  • Corrupting your company data
  • Scrambling your custom configuration files
  • Breaking your integration with the rest of the tech stack
  • Breaking your company’s ability to use the software

1) Corrupted Company Data

Your company data is exactly what most companies are trying to preserve when choosing to try a legacy upgrade. The idea is that your data stays right where it is while the software that handles it changes in the surrounding infrastructure. This is great in theory, but is not how all software upgrades function.

Many software upgrades not only change how the data is handled, but also how it is stored and cataloged. When the legacy upgrade goes through, the upgrade process may try to overwrite or make a serious change to the file system that stores your essential business data.

This can cause the data to corrupt, becoming garbled, unreadable, or inaccessible instead of improving the handling as you’d hoped. And if you don’t have a recent comprehensive backup, that could be a devastating loss of data.

2) Scrambled Configuration Files

Most companies assume that upgrading from one version to the next of the same software will naturally keep all the same infrastructure and background settings. Therefore your carefully customized configuration files should still work perfectly in the new upgraded version, right?

Not necessarily. When programmers improve their software, often the biggest changes are “under the hood” to optimize performance and add new features without changing too much about the UI/UX that most users are familiar with.

This means that configuration files can change drastically with risks. Even if many of the settings you’re already using are still relevant (they may not be), they may be recorded or handled differently under the hood.

The upgrade may also try to overwrite the old configuration files with the new configuration files, which can either completely wipe or badly corrupt your hand-crafted settings from the previous version

3) Broken Integration With Tech Stack

Upgrades always come with a certain amount of risk that it will interrupt your tech-stack. The various software your business uses is not developed by the same teams. Therefore, it does not upgrade at the same rate.

However, the difference between a legacy upgrade and fresh install in stack integration is that a fresh install is more likely to successfully forge new connections as planned by the developers. While a legacy install is far more likely to break your existing integrations, or half-break them which can be worse, without forging the new intentional integrations of a fresh install.

4) Complete Workflow Interruption

Never attempt an upgrade on your only working system. One of the benefits of a fresh install handled by experts is that a separate system can be used while the upgrade and integration is performed so that your team doesn’t transfer to the new system until it is completely functional.

If you try to install a software upgrade on top of your working system without a test environment or backups, you can cut your entire workforce from their software if something goes wrong.

Learn More About the Risks of a Legacy Software Upgrade

Legacy upgrades are no joke. Some software is designed to upgrade smoothly, some are not. Some software stays integrated with the stack and maintains your data structure in an upgrade, some do not. It’s vital that your team know the difference and performs the upgrade most appropriate for the software.

In most cases, it’s best to set up a test environment, perform a fresh install of the new software and migrate the data. To learn more about safe software upgrades or how your company can upgrade successfully, please contact us to speak with one of our technology consultants.

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