Here's why legacy enterprise systems may never die

Sapho is adding support to Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint with its micro app approach. Here's how Sapho fits into a broader trend of squeezing every last drop out of legacy enterprise systems.

Companies are getting more mileage out of enterprise legacy systems as a series of trends converge. The upshot: Already long-in-the-tooth applications may stick around a lot longer on the back end.

At Build 2017, Sapho, a startup that puts a micro-app, transactional interface, on enterprise applications, said it will support Actionable Messages for Microsoft Outlook. Outlook users will be able to use Sapho to complete tasks. In addition to Microsoft's Outlook, Sapho supports Teams and SharePoint Interfaces.

Meanwhile, Sapho supports IBM Domino, Oracle EBS, SAP, and others.

Now, by itself, Sapho's support additions are incremental. However, if you zoom out, you see a broader trend that's been occurring in recent years.

Consider:

  • Companies like Sapho, which recently raised $14 million in Series B funding, are making legacy systems more useful with a card-like user interface. Sapho CEO Fouad ElNaggar recently noted that the engagement the company sees is strong for older systems.
  • Rimini Street has been adding customers at a rapid clip for third-party support. Why? Enterprises can keep their legacy enterprise systems running for a few more years and cut maintenance costs. This third-party support enables companies to squeeze more out of older systems that can run well behind the scenes but can be downright homely on the front-end.
  • Technologies such as data lakes can keep older systems in play since they'll spit out information that can then be analyzed by newfangled applications.
  • Business process automation is minimizing the importance of back-end systems as long as the data is good.
  • Cloud applications are increasingly used in a hybrid role where they connect to older systems that are relegated to reliable plumbing.

If you play this out, a company like Sapho simply extends a multi-year trend to delay an inevitable upgrade cycle. Why rush to find an upgrade path for reliable enterprise systems when there's a way to prolong returns without damaging the business?

Here's the bottom line: No. Legacy. System. Ever. Quite. Goes. Away.

Put another way: Rip and replace is more marketing than reality.

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