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Legacy applications can be revitalized with API

Legacy Application

Recent research reveals that, on average, there are over 1000 different applications in use in the enterprise. A number of these applications are running on legacy systems like on-premises ERPs or old mainframes. These legacy applications contain mission-critical data, like customer or order history repositories, or perform critical functions, like determine mortgage eligibility. But like the systems on which they are based, there are issues with legacy applications.

Legacy applications often run on systems that cannot accommodate the increased number of calls that come from newer mobile applications , SaaS apps , IoT applications , and other systems that need their data. Legacy systems are not well suited to supporting the implementation and adoption of these modern technologies.

In addition, providing secure, governed connectivity between older and newer systems requires developers to navigate the differences between antiquated and modern file formats and transport protocols. For example, to build a mobile application that can update a legacy application like a customer record stored in an IBM mainframe , developers need to reconcile differences in both file format (COBOL copybook vs REST/JSON) and transport protocol (FTP vs HTTP).

The data and functionality of these legacy applications is often extremely valuable to organizations, so ripping and replacing them often isn’t an option. Legacy modernization provides a means of maximizing the investment in legacy applications. An API-focused approach to modernization enables organizations to lower costs while increasing agility and remediating legacy system functionality gaps.

 

How to modernize legacy applications with APIs

Since older systems typically host legacy applications with business-critical data and services (e.g. master customer records), a disproportionate number of new IT projects must integrate with these systems. Due to the complexity of these systems, and the lack of qualified experts who have the ability to support these integration needs, central IT has been unable to meet legacy system integration needs at the scale required by the business. To remove this bottleneck, central IT needs a way to federate access to legacy systems and data to non-experts within the organizations, in a way that doesn’t risk disrupting the functionality of these systems.

APIs provide a way to effectively to do this, enabling central IT to modernize these legacy systems by abstracting away core data and services from the underlying system complexity. This eliminates skill gaps by enabling non-experts to easily consume data in legacy applications and services. Furthermore, by leveraging API policies (specifically, throttling and rate-limiting), legacy systems can be protected from receiving too many requests and breaking down, which increases application uptime and decreases maintenance costs.

Using APIs to expose the data and functionality in legacy applications enables those applications to be more easily reused, allows for applications to be updated or modified more easily (since its underlying components are decoupled), and more effectively leveraged to compose new applications and services.

There are two distinct strategies to use APIs to modernize legacy systems and applications:

  1. Organizations can package existing legacy services in a way that makes them more consumable by the business, by either wrapping services with RESTful APIs , or exposing access to constituent web service operations through APIs.

  2. Organizations can develop miniservices or microservices by re-architecting the underlying application code, and expose functionality through APIs.

How Anypoint Platform unlocks legacy applications with APIs

Anypoint Platform , as a unified platform for data integration and API lifecycle management, enables organizations to leverage APIs to decompose monolithic applications into composable building blocks, insulate legacy systems from transaction spikes, and abstract system complexity from the end consumers of the legacy system’s data and services. Such an approach enables central IT to simultaneously increase business agility by enabling line-of-business IT with highly consumable self-service legacy system assets, while ensuring that access to these systems is tightly governed.

Find out more about how Anypoint Platform helps companies modernize legacy systems and applications with our whitepaper How APIs can modernize legacy systems .