IT Strategy - Finding Scalable Solutions For Legacy Systems

By Kerry Burgess|28 July 2016

In today's fast moving world of technology, the reality is that most organisations - to one extent or another - will be running out-dated computer systems, programming languages or application software.

Such systems, known a ‘legacy systems’ are usually associated with old terminologies and processes that can longer fully meet the growing and changing business demands, and as a result, often creates endless business headaches.

Wouldn't it be great if all we had to do is throw away our old systems and replace them with new ones that contain the latest advances in technology - much the same as we might replace a laptop?

Unfortunately it doesn't work like that, as many organisations have found to their cost. Most businesses - large and small - that have been around for a while, nearly always experience major difficulties when trying to migrate from the traditional IT systems of the 90's and even the early 2,000's, to today's modern, interactive and secure information technology systems.

Why You Need To Upgrade IT Legacy Systems

There are a number of reasons why companies increasingly see the need to upgrade or change out their old systems, many of which are creaking with age.

Here are some of the main issues:

  • It invariably takes far too long to implement upgrades on legacy systems, and they are often delivered too late to satisfy urgent business demands.
  • Demands from business managers for system enhancements are not possible at all - or if they are, they will be very expensive, with no guarantee of success.
  • Companies that are in fast growth mode have increasing requirements for new technology, both to develop their business and also to meet customer expectations. Business models tend to change rapidly in new and innovative ways. In these situations, old legacy systems haven't got a hope in keeping up with modern IT demands.
  • The cost of maintaining, and enhancing legacy systems can be prohibitively expensive and frequently have a serious impact on bottom line profits.
  • IT staff often tend to live in their own little world where they are dedicated to maintaining their legacy systems in isolation. They sometimes lack the mind-set to understand and appreciate the new demands of modern businesses, and provide the necessary support and passion to be a key part of the business.
  • In some cases businesses are reluctant to ask their passive IT staff for urgent enhancements. They end up compromising their business growth plans due to lack of faith in IT staff to deliver the necessary changes. Sometimes, departments feel obliged to develop their own bespoke PC systems which not only diverts resources, but also serves to make the company's IT infrastructure even more of a mess.
  • IT staff that have the required technical knowledge on the maintenance of legacy systems are becoming few and far between. Imminent staff retirements will make this knowledge gap ever more critical.
  • Vendors who provide the maintenance contracts for legacy systems have often withdrawn their support services due to the long passage of time. Often, the system designers have moved on and the documentation has either been lost or incomplete. Or - more typically - vendors have been acquired by or merged with other companies and can no longer offer support.
  • The security on legacy systems often falls short of what is required in a modern IT environment.

In a nutshell - your business has changed, but your IT assets haven’t.

Your ancient, smoke belching Rover 2000 needs to be replaced with a sleek, economical, and technologically advanced Audi Quattro.

So What Is The Solution?

There are a number of varying strategies available to companies who have legacy systems that are either hampering their business growth or becoming prohibitively expensive. Most businesses will have a measure of both problems.

The first step towards finding the right solutions is to engage an experienced IT Service Provider or consultancy.

The service provider should be able to demonstrate an impressive track record of advising and working with organisations to deal effectively with their legacy systems in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

How Can An IT Service Provider Help?

Assess the size of the problem - They will undertake an in depth examination of your business and existing systems to identify the various alternatives open to you. They will also assess the precise levels of risks, and the on-going costs associated with each option.

The IT Service Provider will carry out a weaknesses and threats analysis. Maybe you are not fully aware of the extent that your business is at risk? They will determine whether your system is well past its 'use by date', whether it is keeping up with increased and changing demands, and whether it's becoming a techno-dinosaur that is a constant drain on valuable resources.

Recommend the best way forward - Some of the options we will consider include:

  • A complete replacement of your legacy system from scratch with state-of-the-art hardware and software solutions that will meet your varying business needs. A new system that will be much easier to use, to change and to maintain; and will be cost effective. However, this option may not be suitable for some companies - especially large businesses - whose legacy systems have been the mainstay of their businesses for many years - possible decades.
  • Carry out a partial upgrade of your existing legacy system to satisfy your new business needs and security concerns.
  • Carry out some m

Further Information

Benefits of Outsourcing

We have explored what some of the benefits of this managed service could be.

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