Update Your Legacy Systems to Avoid Lock-in
September 4, 2020
According to Paulo Veras, founder of 99, companies no longer need to be tied to complex legacy systems and outdated platforms because, in the past, they have invested heavily in them. Paulo Veras, co-founder of 99 and one of those responsible for transforming the mobility application into the first Brazilian unicorn, remembers very well the […]
Written by: Digibee
discussing legacy systems

According to Paulo Veras, founder of 99, companies no longer need to be tied to complex legacy systems and outdated platforms because, in the past, they have invested heavily in them.

Paulo Veras, co-founder of 99 and one of those responsible for transforming the mobility application into the first Brazilian unicorn, remembers very well the times when technology projects consumed months – even years – and required a huge investment. Like refrigerators in the past, legacy systems and architectures were built to last a lifetime. But the world changes and at a breakneck speed: the news comes in profusion and the idea of ​​having an almost permanent and definitive technology has become not only a utopia, but has resulted in monolithic, complex and coupled architectures, in which a simple replacement of parts can cause the ruin of the system. The exchange of data and information from these architectures with other applications is quite a challenge. These architectures have become an inevitable legacy system that can bring a competitive disadvantage in relation to companies with more flexible infrastructure. Suddenly, the large investment in a “modern and exclusive” system becomes a true “tie” to progress and productivity. This is the classic context of the so-called lock-in: technological imprisonment. “Today, the analysis of the technology has to be continuous. You don’t make a decision that will tie you up for the next five or ten years. You get used to constantly reviewing these tools and open yourself up to testing new platforms,” says Veras, whose relationship with technology and programming goes back to his adolescence, his background in Mechatronics Engineering at USP and helps explain why, in addition to being a founder 99, is currently one of Digibee’s investors. Lock-in is almost always the result of two reasons: the inability to follow and assimilate technological developments or dependence on solutions that do not talk to other platforms. There is also a third factor that permeates these reasons: the fear of the new and the “unprecedented” forms of imprisonment that he may bring with him.

Cloud agnostics

Dealing with legacy systems of decades of activity carries its own complexities, but opening up to technology within a segment with potential for a billionaire future is also complex. They are different choices, but equally decisive. Vitor Sousa, founding partner and COO of Digibee, sees the trend, in some companies, to consider the cloud a new lock-in tool. “There is this’ I’m a cloud agnostic ‘discourse, I don’t want to have a lock-in with Amazon or Google’. But to do that, he has to build a series of technologies that end up causing an internal lock-in, increasing the company’s costs in astronomical proportions,” says Vitor. Paulo Veras remembers when, at 99, they started using the Amazon Web Services cloud to house their application. Upon realizing the platform’s menu of features, the team’s eyes grew: robust systems for sending messages, notifications, data management, backup… everything was available, without the internal team having to worry. The only question raised was: “If we decided to change the cloud, would migration be complicated?” Yes would be. “But our alternative, to Amazon, would be to develop a system internally, for which we would have to displace part of our intelligence”, he says. The choice was not difficult. “If, in the future, we decided to migrate to another cloud, we would have to rewrite those features, it is true. But, if we didn’t choose it, we would have to write them at that very moment. We decided to save time, speed and robustness and leave our team focused on our core: taxi dispatch. ” In short, if it is to depend momentarily on a good solution that complements your business, so be it. “A good platform allows the company to dedicate itself to its core business and move forward without worrying about lock-in.”

The end of legacy systems and the lock-in mindset

The two executives agree that the choice for more flexible architectures and micro services actually represents a change in the mindset of companies and it is this paradigm shift that will prevent lock-in. Vitor, from Digibee, argues that the way for companies not to be trapped by a technology is to search for flexible architectures, capable of serving the business without necessarily forcing them to “destroy” their legacies. “From the moment you put the new applications in, we are no longer talking about lock-in, but about which tool gives you the best cost-benefit”. The company’s technological architecture must, therefore, be able to guarantee that the core data, the most important for the business, is moved without barriers or damage to its integrity, by different environments. In this scenario, he warns, using a specialized platform is cheaper and faster than allocating resources to build your own solutions. As the main characteristic of lock-in is the complexity of the systems, it is important to choose simpler and more flexible systems and to plan a development cycle that takes into account technological developments. Cloud solutions, in addition to not being definitive, undergo constant improvements. “The more parts the system has and the less standardized it is, the greater the bond in relation to the application or technology. By placing a new architecture on the system, thus having more specialized parts and appropriate to the business need, the time to market, the user experience and the customer experience are improved ”, says Vitor. According to the two executives, companies need to definitively leave behind the fear – and the mindset – of falling into the lock-in and prioritize the use of the best available technologies that will solve their problem at that moment. “Breaking the architectural lock-in is a priority for companies”, reinforces Vitor. “They need to create an integration architecture to break this logic and create an ‘avenue of data’ between the different systems and environments.” For Paulo Veras, the time and money that was spent to implement an internal technology project is simply not feasible today. “You cannot have a platform today that does not connect with other services. Whoever fails to bridge the future will lose market share.”

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