Getting out of the legacy IT trap

 

When mission-critical systems get older, operating costs skyrocket and the risk of outages increases dramatically. But what if the legacy environments cannot be replaced, but continue to operate for years to come?

Despite cloud, Internet and digitization, very few organizations can move their mission-critical applications to modern architectures overnight. Frequently, legacy applications continue to be used- with some dating back to the last century. These systems are often the headaches of the IT department. With each year of operation, they become more unreliable and error prone. As the underlying hardware is outdated, maintenance and repair become increasingly difficult. As a result, IT staff spend more and more time on eBay – not because they are bored with their jobs but looking for spare parts for the long-deadlocked computer systems.

Despite these difficulties, legacy issues are not a priority in many companies. More pressing challenges and more important tasks such as digital transformation, and integration of cloud resources into the IT infrastructure and are far more burdensome to IT than a few legacy systems in one corner of the world Server room do their service. No wonder, then, that there is little budget for the replacement or further development of legacy applications.

Only when the neglected systems fail, companies realize just how important these legacy applications are. They often occupy key positions in production, the supply chain or financial accounting. Production stoppages, delivery shortages or defaults are often the result of such failures. In regulated industries such as healthcare or the financial sector, additional risks are added. If legacy systems stop functioning and therefore lost patient records or account data, this can lead to high penalties.

But even legacy systems can pose a risk. Often, they do not meet the IT security requirements. In addition, they cost more and more in operation with age. In some industries and areas, such as the financial sector and public administration, 80 to 90 percent of the total IT budget is spent on legacy hardware maintenance. Many companies pay $ 50,000 a year or more just to keep a single legacy system operational.

 

Strategies against the Legacy Dilemma

Companies cannot sit out on their legacy problem without taking on high risks and incurring great costs. Business have the following three strategies to consider:

 

1. Continue operation

Maintaining legacy operation is an option, especially, when the impact of downtime on business-critical processes is low, enough spare parts and know-how are available for quick repair, and / or the system is only run for a limited time because it requires transitional periods for legislative changes.

 

2. Migration or replacement

In some cases, existing applications can be modernized to run on current hardware, but others require complete reprogramming. In any case, the costs and risks of such a migration or replacement should not be underestimated; the duration of such a project is usually months or even years, during which the legacy systems must continue to be operated and maintained. There is no guarantee of success. Almost half of all IT migration projects fail ,with just under 20 percent of projects completing their budgets and schedules.

 

3. Hardware emulation

An alternative is to emulate legacy hardware on standard x86 servers. Applications can continue to operate without any changes. The migration of the application is usually done in a few days. By moving to modern, centrally managed hardware, the operating and maintenance costs can be significantly reduced. Customers at Stromasys have saved around 50 percent in the first year and as much as 95 percent of the operating costs of a legacy system from the second year onwards. In many cases, emulation even allows you to take advantage of the cloud and run the legacy applications on virtual servers in cloud environments.

The emulation works well as an interim solution to bridge the time until migration or reprogramming has taken place. But it is also suitable for the long-term operation of legacy applications.

Conclusion

Many legacy systems cannot be replaced for operational or regulatory reasons, or only with high cost risk. Companies therefore face a dilemma: continued operation as before engulfs large sums of money, binds valuable human resources and becomes riskier the older and more vulnerable the hardware becomes. But even a migration or replacement of legacy systems involves risks. Many projects fail, are delayed by months or years and are many times more expensive than planned. The emulation of legacy hardware on standard x86 servers offers a way out of this trap. It enables legacy applications to be deployed without adaptation to powerful, easy-to-administer standard hardware or even migrate them to a cloud environment.