Almost everyone in this business has put in time working on crufty, calcified old software deployments; the polite word is “Legacy”. Well, they’re not going away any time soon. And in tough times, there might be some real opportunity lurking in these dark, dusty corners. [This is part of the Tough Times series.]

The world is full of legacy systems, ranging from “fresh” legacy like Java EE and ASP back through C++, COBOL, and worse. Ever worked on any of them? Most of us have. Maybe if, if business gets really lousy and all else fails, check out those old lines of work; the original creators and maintainers are heading for retirement or otherwise exiting the workforce, lots of them, and help will be wanted.

This stuff isn’t going away because, right now, nobody has capital budget for a project to re-implement the lumbering legacy dinosaurs.

And here’s another thing: These days, we have PHP and Rails and friends for slapping together Web apps quickly. Also, there are more and more tools for building mashups and other flavors of lightweight integration. So, maybe some of that legacy stuff could have a decent Web front-end bolted on at less cost in time and money than its proprietors might think.


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From: Paul Morriss (Oct 22 2008, at 09:03)

I'm looking forward to some lucrative pre-retirement work in 2037 just before the Y2038 bug kicks in.


From: Aaron Gladders (Oct 22 2008, at 09:46)

"Legacy" PHP, including some of our own when we started out, has been a lucrative area.


From: Bill Anderson (Oct 22 2008, at 12:58)

More than a dozen years ago I heard a nice definition of "legacy"; it's a synonym for "working".

It's true that these systems may be old, arcane, and byzantine in their architectures and design. But most of them are still working and helping people get work done. They still have value.

This doesn't mean they should not be replaced.


From: robert (Oct 22 2008, at 13:24)

Tim, you ignorant slut, proposing that real people engage in putting lipstick on a pig. How could you???? In particular, you're suggesting that your readers turn themselves into the mindless cubicle drones that destroy our world. I don't believe it.

Unless you actually LIKE lipstick. There are such people, I hear.


From: Tim (but not THE Tim) (Oct 22 2008, at 18:16)

I work in mainframes. This post is right on.

Not only that - IBM ships a free "Ported Tools" product with PHP, Perl, OpenSSH and maybe one or two others which runs on their Unix Systems Services POSIX interface on the z/OS operating system and offer "bridges" from legacy terminal code to HTML as part of their CICS transaction product. The web server on z/OS can run nearly everything except ASP and .NET and they have a new one based on Apache.

In summary - your web skills can be used, and will be valued, on one the most popular "legacy" systems.


From: Duane Nickull (Oct 27 2008, at 08:51)

I always think it is funny how many people always talk about legacy as being a bad thing. To me, if a thing is legacy, that means it has probably been working well, hence it is still around.

I wonder why us vendors always try to replace legacy systems?



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