Stovepipe system

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In engineering and computing, a stovepipe system is a legacy system that is an assemblage of inter-related elements that are so tightly bound together that the individual elements cannot be differentiated, upgraded or refactored. The stovepipe system must be maintained until it can be entirely replaced by a new system.

Examples of stovepipe systems:

  • Systems for which new hardware is no longer available.
  • Systems whose original source code has been lost.
  • Systems that were built using old or ad hoc engineering methodologies for which support can no longer be found.

The term is also used to describe a system that does not interoperate with other systems, presuming instead that it is the only extant system.

A stovepipe system is an example of an anti-pattern legacy system and demonstrates software brittleness.