Updated: Oct 12
In tech, monolithic architecture and on-premise databases might sound like echoes from a distant past, but they’re more than just nostalgic notions. While sometimes labelled as “legacy,” both offer distinct advantages and remain relevant in today’s dynamic IT landscape. Continue reading to clear the fog and see why they still have a place in the modern tech toolbox.
Why are monolithic architecture and on-premise databases beyond the legacy label?
Does monolithic architecture work for modern business?
Monolithic architecture is like the original template for designing applications. It’s a single, unified system encompassing the user interface, the server operations, and the database. Everything exists within one cohesive framework. For developers, this means there’s a singular code base to navigate. When updates or modifications are needed, they’re applied to this central code, adjusting the entire system simultaneously.
While the term “monolith” might conjure up notions of outdated legacy systems, it’s crucial to recognize that the software architecture world isn’t black and white. It’s a spectrum with more than just a couple of patterns.
The tech landscape has recently been buzzing about the shift towards microservices, especially for expansive applications that span multiple regions or cater to a vast user base. A standout benefit of microservices is their resilience. If one component faces issues, the broader system remains unaffected.
Despite the enthusiastic push for microservices over the last decade, they aren’t the golden ticket for every organisation. While many firms find microservices more efficient than monolithic structures, some have retraced their steps back to monoliths.
On-premise vs. Cloud. When Cloud is not always an option
On-premise IT infrastructure refers to the technical assets and software stationed within a company’s facility, typically managed in its in-house data centre. It denotes that the software operates on hardware owned by the company and within its physical boundaries.
In an on-premise setup, the IT department holds enhanced authority over server hardware, data arrangement, security, and overall governance. This hands-on approach empowers the internal team with direct access to essential data and ensures that external entities are kept at bay.
Traditional sectors like telecom, banking, and finance often avoid moving their primary systems to the cloud due to security concerns. To safeguard against potential threats, these businesses construct private networks within their existing infrastructures, ensuring only a few select ports allow traffic, making breaches more challenging. If these companies opt for a partial shift to the cloud, they’d have to open specific ports. Inadequate cybersecurity measures or improperly set integrations might leave a door open for hackers to infiltrate the system, posing a risk to the entire network. Such industries are often wary of moving essential systems beyond their internal network boundaries. Therefore, local data centres aren’t just remnants of older times for many businesses; they’re often the most secure, efficient, and economical solution for data storage.
What is a legacy system?
While sometimes viewed as relics, legacy systems remain pivotal in many organisations. Although these systems might face challenges in modernization and scaling, replacing them isn't always straightforward. Economic shifts, regulatory changes, market dynamics, and organisational reshuffling influence the business world. To navigate these fluctuations, IT systems are frequently adjusted and updated.
Despite the myth that "legacy" is always about a monolithic architecture or on-premise storage, this phenomenon can apply to the latest solutions and technologies in case the last ones don't cover business requirements anymore.
At some point, all systems stop being efficient from a business or tech perspective.
They are hard to maintain.
They lack numerous features crucial to saving a competitive edge.
They can't cope with a burden or aren't matched with new architectural components.
They are legacy.
Related post: Is Legacy Migration Just About Tech Side Improvement?
Is Your Technology Legacy?
Take this quick quiz to determine if the technology you’re using or considering is “legacy”. Answer the following questions.
1. When was the technology first introduced?
A. Within the last 1-2 years
B. 3-5 years ago
C. 6-10 years ago
D. Over 10 years ago
2. How often do you or your vendor release updates or new versions?
A. Monthly or more frequently
B. Every 6 months to a year
C. Every couple of years
D. Rarely, if ever
3. Are there active online communities (forums, blogs, etc.) discussing and supporting this technology?
A. Yes, very active and growing
B. Active but not growing much
C. There are a few, but they’re not very active
D. I couldn’t find any
4. Is the software compatible with modern systems, devices, or platforms?
A. Completely compatible
B. Requires some workarounds
C. Barely compatible
D. Not compatible
5. How hard is it to find new talent that has expertise in this technology?
A. Easy, many fresh graduates and professionals know it
B. Requires some searching, but they’re out there
C. Quite challenging, few experts remain
D. Almost impossible
6. How would you describe the documentation available for the technology?
A. Comprehensive and up-to-date
B. Adequate but could use updates
C. Sparse and outdated
D. What documentation?
7. How does the cost of maintaining the technology compare to newer alternatives?
A. Much cheaper than newer alternatives
B. Comparable in cost
C. More expensive but manageable
D. Prohibitively expensive
Mostly A’s: Your technology is modern and up-to-date. Keep an eye on advancements, but for now, you’re in a suitable spot.
Mostly B’s: Your technology is somewhat modern but could be nearing its end of life. Monitor its developments and consider planning for future updates or replacements.
Mostly C’s: Warning signs are showing. Your technology is nearing or already in the legacy category. Look into modern alternatives to stay competitive and efficient.
Mostly D’s: Your technology is definitely a legacy. It’s important to consider a migration or upgrade to something more current, as continuing to use this technology could lead to inefficiencies, security risks, and increased costs.