Future-proofing legacy systems with Erlang

Relying on outdated legacy systems often serves as the biggest hindrance to both innovation and optimisation for businesses today. Since many of these systems have been used for years, if not multiple decades, the significant costs involved with replacing a system entirely are rarely within budgets, particularly in today’s business climate.

But that doesn’t mean legacy systems should be left as is. Erlang is a resilient and proven high-level programming language that, when utilised effectively, can improve current legacy systems to ensure they remain both secure and efficient in the future.

Why should I future-proof my legacy system instead of replacing It?

The vast majority of companies are still relying on legacy systems due to the speed at which technology continues to advance. As an example, in 2021 91% of UK financial institutions were still operating on at least some form of legacy infrastructure.

legacy systems infrastructure

Occasionally, the knee-jerk reaction to the idea of legacy systems is that they should be completely replaced, but this is rarely the ideal solution. Entirely replacing a legacy system often involves completely changing the way your business operates – for starters, designing a functional system can take years to both design and implement. After these lengthy phases have been completed, all employees will then still require training on a new system so it can be used appropriately.

Choosing instead to future-proof your current system can therefore be a far more cost-effective solution. Updating a system using a language like Erlang also means that improvements can be incremental, which saves on employee training costs.

As long as a legacy system is future-proofed properly, your company will also access the same benefits you would have if you’d designed an entirely new system. That typically means a more secure infrastructure, a more reliable network, and a more efficient way of managing your operations.

Using Erlang to effectively future-proof legacy systems

Erlang offers a number of notable benefits when applied to legacy system improvements and future-proofing across multiple different sectors. The below represents some of the core ways in which Erlang serves as the ideal programming language for these applications.

Restructuring with Erlang can increase availability and reduce downtime

Erlang can be utilised to establish and bolster core systems, a use case Erlang Solutions achieved with FinTech unicorn Klarna. Our team assisted Klarna by future-proofing their over 10-year-old payment system. 

By using Erlang, Klarna was awarded the flexibility to adapt its system, incorporating a number of additional tech stacks like Scala, Clojure, and Haskell. In this new combined approach, they were able to increase the overall availability of their system considerably whilst reducing their downtime to zero.

You can find out more about this particular Erlang success story in our previous blog post here.

Downtime reduction is essential for business continuity planning today. Outages, often caused by outdated legacy systems, have been on the rise over the past few years, alongside the costs incurred by these issues. By future-proofing your system with Erlang, your business can protect against these risks by building more resilient infrastructure.

Erlang allows legacy systems to scale

If a system isn’t able to appropriately scale, it will inevitably become obsolete once your business grows big enough, or technology advances long past its capabilities. As shown by the above Klarna success story, Erlang enables a system to become more scalable thanks to both its flexibility and reliability as a programming language. 

Erlang is also highly-scalable because it’s able to accommodate large data volumes, which is crucial in today’s data-driven economy. This makes it a particularly adept solution for legacy systems used in data-heavy industries, like the financial and healthcare sectors.

Creating a flexible and adaptable legacy system with Erlang

By updating the flexibility and adaptability of legacy systems, Erlang enables greater tech integration whilst ensuring your business is fully prepared for whatever the future might present.

This adaptability means that your legacy system can also access additional improvements through other technologies. A great example is the ability to integrate RabbitMQ to further scale your system, due to it being an open-source message-broker written in Erlang.

Using Erlang to increase legacy system security 

One of the main concerns with an outdated system is that it leaves business-critical data and applications vulnerable to cybercrime. In 2020, an estimated 78% of businesses were still using outdated legacy systems to support business-critical operations and to hold sensitive data.

Erlang allows your legacy system to become more innovative, without replacing it entirely

Innovation continues to be a desirable trend for many businesses, as a means of differentiating from competitors and securing business growth in increasingly tech-focused markets. As a versatile language, Erlang can facilitate improved innovation in your legacy system.

Much of this can be achieved by adapting to new technologies dependent on your business needs. But by refactoring legacy systems, companies are also able to provide more innovative services for customers. Erlang Solutions achieved this with OTP Bank, utilising LuErl alongside an improved and future-proofed banking infrastructure to create a modern banking system for the largest commercial bank in Hungary.

Future-proofing your legacy system with Erlang Solutions

In 2023 and beyond, it’s of paramount importance that your business considers how your legacy system can be improved, regardless of the sector you operate within.

The Erlang Solutions team has decades of experience using Erlang to improve legacy systems environments, whilst assessing the potential for further innovations with Elixir, RabbitMQ and other solutions. 
If you’d like us to assess how Erlang could improve your system, or you’d like to find out more about the process, please don’t hesitate to contact our team directly.

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