Blog article

In the ever-evolving landscape of software development, legacy systems often stand as testaments to the technological advancements and coding paradigms of their time. However, as these systems age, they can become increasingly difficult to maintain, secure, and enhance. This is where Rust, a modern programming language designed for performance and safety, enters the picture. Although there are a number of factors to consider before rewriting an application, the idea here is to explore the compelling reasons to at least consider it, why Rust is such a good alternative, and how it can breathe new life into aging software.

Why Rust Over Other Languages?

While there are many languages that could be considered for system rewrites, Rust stands out for its unique combination of performance, safety, and modern features. It addresses many of the pain points associated with legacy systems, such as security vulnerabilities and concurrency issues, while providing a path forward that doesn’t compromise on execution speed. In addition, there is an increasing number of engineers learning Rust, so available talent pool is also a big plus.

Unparalleled Safety Features

One of Rust’s hallmark features is its commitment to memory safety without sacrificing performance. Rust’s ownership model, coupled with its borrow checker, ensures that memory safety errors, such as buffer overflows, are caught at compile time. This drastically reduces the potential for security vulnerabilities, a common concern in legacy systems written in languages like C or C++.

Safe and Robust Concurrency

In today’s world, making efficient use of multi-core processors is a necessity for achieving high performance. Rust’s approach to concurrency is both powerful and safe, eliminating the fears of data races that plague systems written in many other languages. By enabling easier, more reliable parallel execution, Rust can help modernize legacy systems to meet current performance expectations.

Modern Tooling and Ecosystem

Rust comes with Cargo, a built-in package manager and build system that simplifies dependency management, compilation, and testing. The Rust ecosystem is vibrant and rapidly growing, offering a wide array of libraries for web development, networking, and more. This ecosystem, supported by Rust’s strict semantic versioning and documentation standards, makes it easier to extend and maintain systems than ever before.

Cross-Platform Development

Like C++, Rust supports cross-platform development, allowing code to be compiled for a wide range of operating systems and architectures with minimal changes. This makes Rust an excellent choice for bringing legacy systems to new platforms or ensuring that existing applications can run on modern hardware.

Incremental Rewriting and Interoperability

A complete rewrite might not always be feasible or necessary. Rust excels in interoperability with C and C++, or even with more modern languages like Ruby or Elixir, allowing for incremental rewriting of system components. This means you can start benefiting from Rust’s advantages in parts of your system that need them most, without the risk and effort of a full rewrite.

Considerations Before Embarking on a Rewrite

Rewriting a system is a significant undertaking that should not be taken lightly. It requires careful planning, a clear understanding of the goals and benefits, and a commitment to learning and adopting new paradigms. This is why when clients come to us asking for a rewrite, we perform an exhaustive review of the codebase first, so they can make a more informed decision. However, for many legacy systems, the investment can pay off in increased security, performance, and maintainability.


The decision to rewrite a legacy system in Rust is one that combines strategic planning with a vision for a more secure and efficient future. Rust offers a compelling package of features that can address the inherent limitations of older systems, making it a worthy candidate for your next major refactoring project. As with any technology choice, it’s essential to weigh the benefits against the costs and challenges. However, for those who embark on this journey, Rust promises a robust foundation for building applications that stand the test of time.

Embarking on a rewrite in Rust is not just about leveraging a modern programming language; it’s about embracing a new approach to software development that prioritizes safety, performance, and reliability.

If you are responsible for an application that could use a bit of modernization, we’d love to chat!