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Definition: Legacy System
Any outdated computer system or computer application program that is still used because of the data it possesses, which cannot be converted or changed to the current standard formats or upgraded, forms a part of the legacy system. Even the outdated programming languages currently under use are also associated with the legacy system.
These systems usually require high maintenance and may need modifications more often because of the lack of standard formats they use. For software adjustments, porting techniques are usually used and for hardware, additional compatibility layers may be required for adjustments.
The basic reason of using legacy systems is that these old systems are still business-critical and services of these systems are relied upon. Changing the legacy systems can be problematic in terms of:
1) Difficulties in incorporating all the changes in a new system as these changes turn old over time and hence become obsolete.
2) Usually business are developed keeping these systems in mind and changing the systems may incur huge investments in the businesses as well.
3) Sometimes businesses have their functions embedded into their software systems and do not document them on paper. Changing the systems may lead to acceptance of risky propositions which may lead to huge losses and hence must be taken care of.
4) Developing new systems also is a risky proposition because we may not be sure of its performance but can ascertain the performance of the legacy systems.