The Perils of Legacy Systems: Why They Threaten Your Business

As companies grow and evolve, they often continue to support legacy systems and applications that cause a wide range of problems, which diminish their scalability, efficiency, security and growth. In this piece, we explore seven key problems that legacy systems impose on businesses and outline some solutions that can help them to disentangle this situation and renovate how they operate with technology.


What Is a Legacy System?

A legacy system refers to an outdated computer system or software application that continues to be used within an organisation despite newer and more advanced alternatives being available. These systems are often based on older hardware, software, or programming languages that were once state-of-the-art but have since been surpassed by more modern alternatives.

So why do businesses continue to use legacy systems?

  • Complexity: As IT infrastructure grows, it can risk being poorly mapped. As many systems and apps rely on each other, many businesses don’t want to pull out a card from the wider house of cards that will cause parts of the wider business to grind to a halt.
  • Customisation & Cost: Legacy systems are often customised to fit a business’s processes, compliance needs and wider technology stack. This coupled with complexity, risks a costly and complicated transition process.
  • Fear of Disruption: The older a legacy system is, the more likely it is at the core of how a business operates. For this reason, it can feel more comfortable to continue with business as usual.

Here are seven key issues that legacy systems often cause for businesses.


Security Vulnerabilities

A key issue with legacy systems is that they are more susceptible to security breaches. These systems can often lack the security features that can be baked into, or integrated with more modern technologies. As a result, they are more vulnerable to cyber attacks, data breaches and unauthorised access. As hackers develop more sophisticated methods and as the system gets older, this type of risk increases over time.

While a business continues to use a legacy system, they should contract cybersecurity professionals to map the system for vulnerabilities and find actionable recommendations to address them. The more cybersecurity measures are implemented, the more that risk can be mitigated as the business moves towards replacing their legacy systems.


Limited Integration Capabilities

Many modern applications and systems are able to integrate together more seamlessly than ever before today, which stands to offer big benefits to businesses. However, legacy systems are often developed using tools that have become outdated and replaced, making them less interoperable with more sleek and modern applications. As a result, legacy systems risk dragging against a business’s ability to operate in an agile and streamlined way.

Modern API solutions, such as Zapier, can facilitate communication and data exchange between legacy systems and modern applications. These APIs act as bridges that can integrate and interlink disparate components in your IT ecosystem. Customised middleware solutions can also help to  overcome integration challenges, while legacy systems are being replaced.


High Maintenance Costs

As legacy systems age, the cost of maintaining and supporting them escalates. The growing scarcity of compatible hardware and software products, as well as specialised knowledge to bring them together, can act as a drain on financial resources. The opportunity cost of maintaining a legacy system increases over time which will hamper profitable growth in the long run.

Addressing a legacy system in its totality is also costly, so a phased approach to modernisation can strike a healthy middle ground between a balanced and careful approach, while making valuable headway towards a more modern and cost-effective solution to replace the legacy system.


Reduced Performance and Efficiency

Legacy systems and the infrastructure that support them can lack or lose their speed and reliability over time, especially as more interdependencies and complex integrations are made to adapt the legacy systems to other parts of the business. Lost time and value is the cost that mounts from this situation over time, and it can take away the potential for growth.

Your IT support provider can help you to explore your system and its relationship to your network, to find ways to optimise its performance and reliability in the meantime.  There are also cloud based hosting services that offer great scalability and reliability, which can complement the performance of the legacy system in the meantime while lowering hardware costs.


Lack of Support and Vendor Abandonment

Vendors will gradually stop supporting the hardware and software related to the legacy system, which will leave the business without updates, bug fixes and dedicated support. This imposes a range of risks to performance, security and reliability. It also is a big business continuity risk.

An IT support provider that specialises in legacy support can help to mitigate this problem in the meantime. A knowledgeable team can provide ongoing maintenance, security updates, and vendor support where possible, which can help to enhance the reliability and functionality of ageing infrastructure.


Compliance and Regulatory Issues

Legacy systems will get more poorly placed to comply with the latest industry standards and government regulations over time. Alongside mounting security vulnerabilities, they may not have the functionality to give assurance that compliance obligations are being met. Non-compliance imposes potentially severe financial, legal and reputational risks to a business.

An IT support provider will likely be able to map your compliance requirements against your system and find ways to deliver a monitoring solution to provide more oversight and assurance. They can conduct an audit of your legacy systems to assess adherence to standards and implement changes to help you to achieve more compliance.


Inflexibility and Scalability Challenges

This is a multilayered challenge as businesses often develop legacy systems with strategic goals and assumptions in mind, that become less relevant over time. The system may not be able to adjust with the market landscape, for example by not being able to integrate with other applications well,  or by being incompatible with the latest hosting solutions that can offer enhanced cost-effective system performance. As a result, scaling the operations on the system can drag against efficiency and system performance over time. Lastly, the opportunities for innovation are constrained by the system’s constraints.

With a modernisation roadmap for the system, a business can start to take the steps towards embracing more flexible and scalable alternatives. Cloud-based solutions in particular offer the kind of elasticity that businesses need to attain reliable and fast scalability while paying relatively less to do so.



The problems associated with legacy systems are multifaceted and can significantly hinder a business’s growth and success. However, with a proactive approach and expert guidance from an IT support provider, businesses can navigate the challenges of modernising their IT infrastructure. By prioritising security, integration, scalability, and compliance, and adopting forward-thinking solutions, businesses can sharpen their competitive edge and achieve more profitable growth.


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