Jana Förster · 4 min read

Modernizing a legacy Traffic Light with KronoCore

KronoCore enables legacy software to run on modern hardware. In addition to hardware compatibility, it offers additional features that enhance security. Learn how KronoCore addresses these challenges with the help of a case study.

In the world of technology, 2004 seems like a lifetime ago. Windows XP was widely used, the first Ubuntu version was released, and Mozilla Firefox was born. While many of the systems that have been built at that time have long been replaced by modern alternatives, some systems are still essential in today’s infrastructure. Short budgets, lack of knowledge and resources, or fear of downtimes during migrations caused them to stay alive.

An organization that relies on legacy system faces many issues. One of the biggest fears is that a hardware defect may render the system useless at some point. Spare parts for decades old systems are no longer available and the legacy system does not run on modern hardware. Since the experts who built the initial system have often long left, no one is able to rebuild the failing system’s functionality. Manufacturing companies and operators of critical infrastructure face fatal consequences when these essential systems fail.

Another issue with legacy software is the lack of support and updates from the manufacturer. Without ongoing support, organizations using legacy software are at risk of security breaches, as vulnerabilities in the software are not being patched or updated to protect against new threats. One approach to reduce the risk is to restrict network access. The downside of this approach is that it prevents the integration of these systems with modern remote management and monitoring tools - rendering the management of these systems extremely cumbersome.

KronoCore enables legacy software to run on modern hardware. In addition to hardware compatibility, it offers additional features that enhance security. Learn how KronoCore addresses the above mentioned challenges of legacy systems with the help of our fictive case study — based on a true story.

Lifetime Extension for a Traffic Control System

Back in 2007, Road Rage Reducer Inc. hired a software company to build their traffic control system KronoLight for Windows Vista. Hundreds of traffic control centers are still relying on the systems that have been built in 2007. Over time, hardware malfunctioned but Road Rage Reducer Inc. was able to replace them with spare parts that they had stocked in their warehouses. They will use up their stock by the end of 2024 and need to remain capable of delivering their product.

Enabling Legacy Software on Modern Hardware

The image below shows a simplified version of KronoLight in action. The software controls the color of a single traffic light that is connected via USB.

Road Rage Reducer Inc. contacted Cyberus Technology because they heard of their KronoCore software lifetime extension. Their cooperation started with an evaluation workshop that demonstrated the feasibility of running the unmodified Windows Vista and KronoLight software on a modern Intel i7 system.

Secure Remote Administration

While the prototype was built, Road Rage Reducer Inc. mentioned that they have a hard time to find operators for their control systems, because potential employees prefer hybrid or completely remote workplaces nowadays over sitting in offices crowded with control computers. Remote access to the control machines would extend their recruiting pool, but they do not dare to connect the outdated machines to the internet.

Luckily for Road Rage Reducer Inc., KronoCore supports remote administration for its legacy systems. The mechanism is applicable to any system and does not require any change. You can even connect to purely text based systems that do not have a graphical interface.

Flexible Security Mechanisms

The final issue for Road Rage Reducer Inc. was the integration of their legacy systems into the existing IT management. They want to control and monitor network traffic for all machines, including the legacy systems. A KronoCore system runs in a sandbox without direct access to the internet. When you chose to enable networking, traffic from and into the sandbox can be mediated. In this example, the parties set up a second system that runs a firewall. Since the legacy workload does not challenge modern hardware, the legacy system and the firewall system run in parallel on the same machine. Road Rage Reducer Inc.’s IT department has full control over the firewall configuration and are therefore in control of the legacy system’s traffic.

Summary and Outlook

Now that the biggest fear of Road Rage Reducer Inc. - malfunctioning due to failing hardware- has been mitigated by KronoCore’s lifetime extension, they dare to plan ahead. The IT department wants to use KronoCore’s features not only to support legacy systems. Hardware independence and OS agnostic security features are also desirable for modern workloads which is why the partnership will continue.

Do you also rely on legacy software systems and need a way to modernize it? Feel free to reach out via our contact form and get started with a free consultation!