The Evolving Risk in Aging Legacy Applications

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The time gap between what defines modern apps and legacy apps is constricting as fast as a rubber band. At this point, actually, we’re watching it happen like that frog in the metaphor of the boiling water: Artificial intelligence, powered by metadata and the right set of rules, is already morphing today’s apps into applications ready for retirement. A white paper by Carl Weber fired a warning shot in 2006, when software had grown quickly into Software-as-a-Service:

“Do not assume that these older systems are free from risk because they were built at a time when security was not a design issue, computer crime was rare (or invisible), and the mechanisms for attack were different, generally relying on physical access and inside knowledge. These systems are now in the open, unprotected by the data center, and they are vulnerable.”

So, the apps of today are tomorrow’s apps that need to ride off into the sunset. If there’s a nugget of terror forming, it’s what typically follows lightning-flash technological change. Like the apes caressing technology in 2001: A Space Odyssey, apps will be shaped by the electric zaps emitted from machine-learning minds. Legacy applications, the stoic monuments, still-standing, our older web monolights, aging platforms or systems, require costly maintenance and--more importantly--expose a business to security risks that are evolving in line with our technology.

“Time and technology advances have armed attackers with cloud computing power and knowledge on the weaknesses of older algorithms,” says Jerry Hoff in a 2013 op-ed in Computerworld.

Where does the data go?

It’s not just external or public data: The risk of internal apps being exposed to the hacker wind grows wildly as partnerships, mergers or acquisitions require new platforms and machine-learning automation.

Of course, there are innovative solutions. Hanzo for enterprise, for example, provides preservation methods of aging legacy platforms to convert data into a searchable ecosystem. It includes social media and those mellifluous team messaging apps like Slack. Imagine each legacy application owned by a business as a thick slice of prime rib sitting on a plate in front of you, and you’ve already had eaten a full meal. How much time do you let pass before you ask the server to box it up? Slide your prime rib into a container, a house that can be accessed and meticulously deconstructed, and it’ll age naturally and beautifully. Hanzo is the to-go container; They’ll wrap your legacy applications into a tin foil swan.

There’s value in a good container solution. As data morphs into intelligence, apps accessible by touch, feel and thought (wearable technology is the new wave we’re surfing), the apps that led to it, the ones entrepreneurs quickly embrace--each an exploding radial wheel of websites, names, emails, passwords, credit processing platforms--will be exposed faster and more broadly. It’s part of the fear of a completely online medical history: It’s easy to imagine the fluid simplicity of hacking your digital doctor’s notes. There are already countless examples of this kind of data breach.

What does the future hold?

In a 2016 TechCrunch piece, Matt Mcllwain, managing director of Madrona Venture Group, summarized the collapsing time between our modern apps and legacy apps cleanly, “Over the next decade, dataware will be created through training a computer system with data that enables the system to continuously learn and make predictions based on new data/metadata, engineered features and algorithm-powered data models. In short, software is programmed and predictable, while the new dataware is trained and predictive.”

The clever thing to consider is this: Application retirement platforms are employing this same predictive behavior. There are literally tools out there now to anticipate your future legacy needs. The web-version of a 401k is this preservation platform: You’re expending cash into it, but it’s cradling your future existence from risk and the growing costs of modern living. You’re not buying a coffin; it’s a fully functioning library for your aging apps that you can access anytime, anywhere. It’s clean, searchable and smart. Hanzo’s intelligent platform can completely capture today’s social media content, which is tomorrow’s legacy costs, and they work 100% legal defensible and within proper regulations.

“These applications and the devices used to interact with them, which may seem improbable to some today, will feel natural and inevitable to all by 2026 — if not sooner. Entrepreneurs and companies looking to build valuable services and software today need to keep these rapidly emerging trends in mind,” says Mcllwain.

 

Look at it another way: There’s future value in retiring the past.

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