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It’s the classic question: should IT spend its time maintaining legacy investments or addressing legacy system challenges and creating new projects?            

In a recent survey, 90% of IT decision makers say legacy system challenges are holding their organizations back from using digital technologies to innovate or make improve IT efficiency, and over a third believe that legacy systems are a barrier to completing IT projects.  

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Legacy systems create a myriad of challenges. First, they were not developed to support the implementation and adoption of modern technologies––whether it is mobile, cloud, or IoT. And as the number of digital transformation initiatives grows, IT leaders become overwhelmed by the number of requests for data from legacy systems. Moreover, existing legacy interfaces, developed in a world of daily batch calls, are not fit for purpose for today’s real-time data needs.

Organizations must address legacy system challenges and modernize their systems to ensure the technologies they use provide a competitive edge in the market and, more importantly, meet changing business initiatives. And to do that, they need a well-designed architecture with a well-thought-out integration strategy.

Solving legacy system challenges by connecting systems point-to-point

Traditional architectural approaches to addressing legacy system challenges and legacy modernization center around point-to-point integration and, as a result, create a dependence on specialized teams that are more familiar with these legacy systems––creating bottlenecks, increasing maintenance costs, and reducing the budget for innovation. More importantly, point-to-point integration builds architectural brittleness over time, making organizations less flexible to change.

Organizations must move beyond point-to-point integration and embrace a new approach: reusable APIs.

Solving legacy system challenges using APIs

APIs hold the key to legacy modernization and, in turn, solving legacy system challenges. APIs expose data in a way that protects the integrity of legacy systems and enables secure and governed access to the underlying data. This allows organizations with older systems to adapt to modern business needs and, more importantly, quickly adopt new technologies and platforms.

This is crucial because legacy modernization is not an end in itself; rather, it’s a way to build long-term flexibility in order to meet evolving IT needs. What will the business’ strategic goals be a year from now or a decade into the future?

Nobody wants to keep creating new point-to-point code to endlessly keep up with new business objectives. This is why organizations looking to address legacy system challenges and adopt new technologies should think about legacy modernization in the long-term by adopting an integration strategy centered around reusable, purpose-built APIs: API-led connectivity.

API-led connectivity and legacy modernization

API-led connectivity is a methodical way to connect data to applications through reusable and purposeful APIs. With this approach, APIs are designed and productized for a specific purpose within specific API layers: unlocking data from systems (System APIs), composing data into processes (Process APIs), or delivering an experience (Experience APIs).  

By exposing systems through APIs, teams can create an API infrastructure that enables plugging data, applications, and systems (e.g. Salesforce, Facebook, and other modern apps) more easily to API-fied legacy systems. This makes solving legacy system challenges and retiring or modernizing systems much easier––leading to a host of other benefits, as evidenced by the story of Service New South Wales.

How Service New South Wales delivers over 800 state government services

Service New South Wales (Service NSW) is a government initiative focused on delivering services to citizens––including driver licenses, birth certificates, senior cards, and more. They sought to improve the customer experience by becoming a “one-stop-shop” for all citizen needs.

In order to achieve this objective, Service NSW wanted to improve the customer experience by making these government services accessible to citizens from a single place—whether it is in-person, online, or through mobile.

This required addressing legacy system challenges and integrating data from government departmental IT systems with Salesforce and other systems of record, in a secure manner.

With API-led connectivity, Service NSW modernized legacy back-end systems with APIs, exposing over 40 external government departments and agencies without compromising system security. Today, the infrastructure they built is not based on point-to-point code, but emphasizes an API-first approach that allows Service NSW to expose legacy systems with APIs in a scalable and flexible manner.

By taking an API-led approach to legacy modernization, Service NSW was able to address legacy system challenges and consolidate their services to become a one-stop-shop for all government services. As a result, they increased the delivery of digital services by 50% and drastically improved the customer experience by achieving a 97% customer satisfaction rating from 2 million customers.

Discover how organizations like Service New South Wales, the Mount Sinai Health System, Siemens, and other organizations have successfully used APIs to modernize legacy systems.