Redefining legacy : a technical debt perspective

Monaghan, BD ORCID: and Bass, J ORCID: 2020, Redefining legacy : a technical debt perspective , in: PROFES 2020: 21st International Conference on Product-Focused Software Process Improvement, 25th-27th November 2020, Online (originally to be held in Turin, Italy).

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Organisations that manage legacy systems at scale, such as those found within large government agencies and commercial enterprises, face a set of unique challenges. They manage complex software landscapes that have evolved over decades. Current conceptual definitions of legacy systems give practitioners limited insights that can inform their daily work. In this research, we compare conceptual definitions of large-scale legacy and technical debt. We hypothesise that large-scale legacy reflects an accumulation of technical debt that has never been through a remediation phase. To pursue this hypothesis, we identified the following question: How do practitioners describe their experience of managing large-scale legacy landscapes? We conducted 16 semi-structured open-ended, recorded and transcribed interviews with industry practitioners from 4 government organisations and 9 large enterprises involved with the maintenance and migration of large-scale legacy systems. A snowball sampling technique was used to identify participants. We adopted an approach informed by grounded theory. There was consensus among the practitioners in our study that the landscape is fragmented and inflexible, consisting of many dispersed and fragile applications. Practitioners report challenges with shifting paradigms from batch processing to near real-time customer-focused information systems. Our findings show there is overlap between challenges experienced by participants and symptoms typified by technical debt. We identify a novel type of technical debt, ``Ecosystem Debt'' which arises from the scale, and age, of many large-scale legacy applications. By positioning Legacy within the context of Technical Debt, practitioners have a more concrete understanding of the state of the systems they maintain.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools: Schools > School of Computing, Science and Engineering > Salford Innovation Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Product-Focused Software Process Improvement 21st International Conference, PROFES 2020, Turin, Italy, November 25–27, 2020, Proceedings
Publisher: Springer
Series Name: Lecture Notes in Computer Science
ISBN: 9783030641474 (print); 9783030641481 (online)
ISSN: 0302-9743
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ben David Monaghan
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2021 08:49
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 06:34

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