Adapting Old Systems to New Requirements

Old Systems

Old systems often stick around for a reason. Since they’ve been around for a while, everyone knows how to use them. They know the quirks, they know how to set it up, and if something goes wrong someone has likely seen it before and knows what to do about it. After years of using the same system it can be difficult to see the benefits of an intense and costly upgrade. To learn more about long term support on your systems see Long Term Support 

On the other hand, if an old system has stopped working altogether, now could be a good time for an upgrade that goes beyond simply fixing the problem. In an integrated software and hardware setup, both will likely need to be updated at the same time. Hardware changes often require driver and software updates. And if you’re going to upgrade software only, it often makes sense to update hardware at the same time.

With an established system, regular maintenance and updates are important to avoid a situation where it stops working all together. System outages can require large efforts to get it back on line and meet schedule demands. In a more common scenario though, the system is working well, but the requirements change and adaptations must be made to meet them.

Updating a legacy test system

New Requirements

It is not uncommon for system requirements to change over time. This may be due to new scope, budget changes, or adjusted timeline and deadlines. Sometimes these requirements can be met with the current set of hardware and software, sometimes small changes are necessary, and other times it requires an entire system upgrade. Even if a total upgrade is not necessary, it may be a good time to assess the benefits for future scalability. 

Potential upgrades include improvements to sampling rates, memory for handling larger sets of data acquisition, or development effort to program in new functionality. Upgrading to meet only the minimum of the new requirements does not account for any future changes that may happen. New unforeseen requirements may demand more than the current system is capable of handling. And if updates are being made already, it is a good time to assess scalability for the future. This means understanding what hardware changes can be made and what software changes will maximize the hardware’s lifetime and prepare the system for the future. If requirements have changed once, they may likely change again.

How to Approach the Problem

When determining the best path forward it is important to assess what parts of the system will be affected by new requirements, what parts may be obsolete, what changes are required in order to meet new criteria, and what optional parts could be updated for the future.

The problem may be divided into hardware, software, and interface categories to find an ideal solution. Hardware improvements during the life of the system can be researched and used as a starting point for the upgrade. Next the software can be examined. Over the course of a system’s use,  the users often think of ways it can be improved and have likely found unintended issues from when it was originally developed. These findings can be listed and incorporated into software changes. The interface between hardware and software is also important to examine. Newer hardware may have updated features and capabilities that the old software cannot take advantage of. A hardware update is a good time to revamp the software and improve upon the hardware utilization and interfaces. 

Endigit has extensive experience updating systems of various sizes with hardware and software upgrades. We are happy to help assess system capabilities and meet new system requirements for you as quickly and effectively as possible.

Sam Hayden

Systems Engineer II

Sam's love for mountain biking led him to study mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University. His goal was to design mountain bikes, and while Sam still thinks this would be a cool job, his career interests have evolved. In school, Sam loved learning about mechanical and electronic systems, as well as participating in business clubs and competitions focused on social innovation. After his Bachelors degree, Sam finished a Masters in mechanical engineering. For his Masters, he developed a device using lasers and components from an Xbox Blu-ray player to measure the thermal properties of nuclear fuels. Sam has experience in the commercial solar power industry and in product design for hand-held scanning and imaging devices.

Sam loves skateboarding, backpacking, mountain biking, reading, and surfing. He has taught skateboarding classes at local recreation centers and has organized regular trips to the skate park with his co-workers at two of the places he has worked.

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