Top Challenges in Building Integration with Legacy Applications & Legacy Middleware

Written by Ali Akthar

Technical Account Manager

Every organization has businesses and applications running on legacy technologies. Legacy technologies have been reliable and supporting the industries for many, many years. However, they are rigid, fragile, closed, and somewhat hard to maintain because of expensive and having a shortfall of resources.

Indeed, it isn't easy to modify the legacy system and modernize it to meet new and constantly changing business requirements. Changing such a system is costly, risky, and disposed to failure. Also, legacy systems are by nature siloed systems that keep their data locked inside where it's safe but inaccessible.

Organizations in the 21st century face multiple challenges related to legacy technology. These include day-to-day operations, staffing, responding to pressure for innovation from the business, customers, and external collaborators, and complying with ever-changing regulatory demands.

Before deciding to make any change in the legacy system, it is necessary to understand the impact and repercussions on the rest of the system. Due to the complex structure of such systems, they require an enormous amount of effort to understand the application code and architecture. Therefore, one of the main challenges of integrating any legacy application is understanding the system's functionality and operational behavior and exposing the data to any third-party system.

There are two approaches to expose services from the legacy system: reengineer or integrate them into an external system. Reengineering means re-structure the entire application, which sometimes is not possible or realistic. It requires a lot of time and cost. Alongside reengineering, a system is slow. However, Integration is faster than reengineering, but because legacy systems don't readily share data or services, the main challenge is to write a service or code that helps expose data or services easily. To integrate a legacy system, define interfaces for each subsystem, and build an object wrapper on top of a legacy system.

There are two approaches for legacy systems integration: Application Integration and Data Integration.

Application Integration

One of the approaches is application integration, which contains a mapping of a legacy system with a modern application interface. Another way to do the application integration is using User Interface screen scrapping to perform automation in the legacy application.

Point to Point Integration

In Point-to-point Integration, connections are tightly coupled between each pair of applications. Such a solution is costly because the number of interfaces required grows exponentially. With many interfaces, it may be necessary that each application may need an interface with another application. In addition, maintenance is a problem due to the number of hopes being added.

Data Integration

One of the most significant assets today is data. Exposing data is a critical subject. The implied business logic in the data and metadata can be easily manipulated directly by applications in the new architecture of the enterprise. Here are some data integration solutions mentioned below.

XML Integration

The XML format is a widely used format for the data integration and data available over the Web.

Data Replication

Database replication is replicating data into a secondary database and maintaining data sources in multiple clusters of databases that make up a distributed system. The topology could be active, active, or active, passive. Replication provides users with fast, local access to shared data and greater application availability because alternative data access options exist. Even if one site becomes unavailable, users can continue to query or update data at other locations. In addition, database replication enables decentralized access to legacy data stored in mainframes.

Java J2EE Connector

Java J2EE Connector defines a standard set of services that allow developers to quickly connect and integrate their applications with virtually any back-end enterprise information system. These services are supplied as "plug-in" connectors.

In short, integrating legacy systems and modern solutions can be a huge hassle, seeking to improve their work processes. The core issue is that many clouds and SaaS solutions can be incompatible with older legacy systems. It means that extensive custom code is required to make it work to incorporate new tools and programs.

This can be a time-consuming exercise for large organizations looking to cut costs, build a great customer experience, and innovate.

One core IT challenge is using a legacy system with a stifled ability to modernize and improve. To remain competitive, improving efficiencies and capabilities is a central goal in any digital transformation strategy.

Legacy systems in business are notoriously inflexible, an obstacle for most organizations operating in today's digital environment.

Customers expect organizations to be digitized, and executives see digital transformation as a means to be competitive.

There are different approaches to modernizing legacy assets, including reengineering and wrapping. Before starting any legacy modernization effort, every possible option should be considered, and business and strategic factors also need to be considered for ensuring long-term success. Present-day systems are the potential source of future legacy problems. Therefore, systems should be built using modular engineering and configurable infrastructure to eliminate future legacy problems from present-day systems.

Challenge faced by the Customer & How Royal Cyber addressed it

  • Situation: One of the leading banks faced integration challenges of fetching data from the Cobol-based legacy system into a newer one. The system was not exposing any service, or retrieving data from that system required knowledge of Cobol language and database understanding to fetch data from the tables.
  • Task: Bank was looking to expose Cobol-based data to third-party software’s for Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data warehousing, & other purposes.
  • Action: Royal Cyber proposed a custom solution and database connectors from MuleSoft to extract data from the Cobol-based system and dump it into the data warehouse solution and transform data to show analytics in an Analytical tool.
  • Results: The Bank now can serve their customers better by making decisions based on the data extracted from the Cobol-based system. Bank was able to offer the right products to their customer based on the age group, transaction history, and financial management.

Final Thoughts

Inept and unplanned adoption of new solutions and technologies leads to complex IT ecosystems that need to be upgraded immediately. Without focusing on integration, businesses end up with multiple hardware systems, IaaS, and shadow applications that do not fit into the ecosystem.

Royal Cyber is an IT Services Company that has helped several clients across the globe revive legacy applications and help businesses grow. We guarantee growth in performance and superior user experience. We have helped many companies modernize and upgrade their applications during this digital transformation journey. For more information, you can email us at [email protected] or visit

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