In an Enterprise context, there are “inherited” legacy systems and obsolete solutions from another technological age or resulting from adaptations, modifications, and forcing that have followed over time. Moreover, you can find these situations especially in those parts of IT systems that are crucial for the business and for which companies historically are more reluctant to make changes.
However, today modernizing some key points of corporate IT systems can be decisive for a long-term growth and competitiveness strategy: the continuous evolution of infrastructure and technologies involved is the key to guaranteeing a real efficiency of the processes and services offered.
Why legacy systems modernization is important
The answer to this need for the modernization of legacy systems comes from the market: the offering of sophisticated and cutting-edge solutions is getting wider and wider. Relying on a market solution entails numerous long-term benefits – including economic ones.
The first benefit is undoubtedly the opportunity to have a solid, reliable, and advanced system that brings improved performance and governance of the company’s product and service offering.
Furthermore, the benefit of being able to take advantage of the latest technological updates stands out: applications and services’ orchestration platforms guarantee access to cutting-edge technologies, often administered in open‑source mode. In this way, the company will have access to the best performing techs on the market, guaranteed by constant updates and maintenance.
As for the economic benefits, this is certainly a considerable initial investment, but it allows you to save in the long term in terms of new applications and services production costs, time‑to‑market, and architecture maintenance.
Finally, the ability to evolve its architecture quickly and easily, as business needs grow and change, allows the company to gain the business agility required to effectively respond to the ever-changing needs of customers.
A success story: legacy systems modernization of a big insurance company
As digital catalyst, Mia‑Platform faced the migration of IT systems of an important Italian insurance group.
The company, which has been Mia‑Platform’s customer for some years, needed to migrate its IT systems with the goal to improve maintenance, governance, and software durability in the long run.
The project started in June 2020 and ended in September of the same year. It is about the process of black box recorder management for insured customers. The involved processes range from the sale and installation of the devices to the recovery of the metrics detected by them.
Specifically, our goal was to allow the various systems involved to pass from asynchronous communication, based on the exchange of batch flows, to communication via API Rest and event-based. The nature of the particular insurance product delivered through this system requires that the asynchronicity of the communication between the data recorders provider and the insurance agencies is maintained while discarding the old infrastructure based on the FTP file exchange.
The solution we have implemented is divided into two parts: on the one hand, introducing Apache Kafka into the infrastructure of the project, while on the other, transforming the entire codebase from monolith to microservices, which interface with various touchpoints via REST API.
To better illustrate the solution adopted, we will describe below one of the migrating project main flows, namely the sale of black box recorders.
The actors involved in the sales flow are three:
- The agencies that sell insurance contracts;
- The black box recorders supplier that manages the installation and gathers the driving metrics of the clients;
- The CRM for the monitoring of the entire selling process.
In this context, the role of Mia‑Platform is to mediate the communication among the three actors and to save on a MongoDB database all the exchanges that take place between the parties involved.
The legacy flow used to have these steps:
- The agency sends a request to create a contract following the sale of a new policy;
- At the end of the day, the supplier receives, via FTP flows, the list of all contracts sold that day;
- For each contract, the supplier, after verifying the correctness of the data, communicates the identifier of the relevant black box recorder through a new FTP stream;
- The supplier starts the installation process of the black box recorders and communicates the various stages of the installation;
- Any communication between the supplier and the agencies is notified to the CRM.
The mediation role used to be the following: supplying REST APIs to the selling agencies and scheduling jobs to process files handled via FTP.