Join the webinar on ‘Levelling Up Cloud Performance: The Future of SPARC Emulation Has Arrived’ on July 24th, 2024.

Register Now

Not Modernizing Your Utility Infrastructure? Discover the Critical Need for Upgrading Legacy System

Talk to an Expert

Table of Contents


    Recently, we stumbled upon some fascinating data about the utility sector. Apparently, by 2026, 20% of the utility industry will undergo a significant IT transformation. Even more exciting, by 2030, the entire industry is expected to have completed this transition.

    app modernization trends

    But here is the catch: many utility companies still depend on outdated legacy systems that are incompatible with modern IT infrastructure, prone to failure, and often take hours to perform. This, in turn, makes the transition seem difficult.

    Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

    Your legacy system is silently impacting the business and causing widespread service disruption. So, as utilities adopt new technologies, upgrading legacy systems becomes a no-brainer to ensure compatibility, efficiency, and scalability.

    So, opt for a carefully considered legacy system modernization strategy that leads to efficient IT infrastructure, effective inspection schedules, reporting, and data collection. With legacy modernization, you can also reduce downtime and maintenance expenses and create a safer and more efficient operating environment.

    Your Utility Business Isn’t Growing Because of Legacy Systems: Here’s Why…

    The utility industry is rapidly growing, so keeping up with modern demand is crucial. However, many companies are still relying on aging infrastructure, which is causing some serious problems. Honestly, the old hardware, designed for the past, just can’t handle today’s needs.

    eliminate legacy hardware risk

    Limited Efficiency and Productivity

    Legacy hardware was designed for a different time. Today’s utility operations require systems capable of handling huge amounts of data, allowing for real-time analytics and facilitating communication between departments. Old hardware often falls short as it comes with:

    • Downtime Risk: Legacy hardware fails more often. With over 25 years of industry experience, we have noticed that many businesses struggle to reboot their legacy systems just after a downtime, with some taking 7-8 hours to do so. This disrupts service, hampers productivity, and highlights the need for regular maintenance.
    • Higher Operational Costs: Keeping old hardware running is expensive as it consumes more energy, spare parts are expensive, and there is a dearth of skilled professionals.

    Customer Dissatisfaction

    Today’s customers expect reliable, efficient, and transparent utility services. Legacy hardware, with its limitations, often fails to meet these expectations because of the:

    • Poor Service Quality: Frequent downtimes and slower response times affect service reliability and ultimately result in customer dissatisfaction.
    • Lack of Innovative Services: The inability to integrate new technologies prevents the offering of advanced services such as real-time usage monitoring and dynamic pricing.

    Rising Operational Expenses

    To keep up with modern utility trends, it’s essential to invest in other important aspects of your business. But legacy systems are constantly preventing by breaking your bank:

    • Maintenance Costs: Keeping old hardware running is expensive. Spare parts for outdated systems are hard to find and pricey. Also, finding skilled technicians who know how to fix these old systems is getting tougher, which is driving up labor costs. Older hardware also uses more energy, adding to your bills.
    • Wasted Resources: Old systems require a lot of hands-on work and supervision. This not only increases labor costs but also signals that resources aren’t being used efficiently. Modern systems automate many tasks, cutting down on manual work, which in turn allows you to utilize your resources better.

    Security Risks

    Cybersecurity is crucial for utilities because attacks can disrupt essential services. Vintage hardware often lacks the security needed to handle today’s threats, which causes serious risks:

    • Vulnerability to Attacks: Aging infrastructure is more susceptible to cyber threats due to the absence of modern security features.
    • Regulatory Non-Compliance: Outdated hardware may not meet current regulatory standards, exposing your business to legal and financial penalties.
    • No vendor support: Legacy systems often become end-of-life due to the absence of vendor support. Without regular updates and patches, these systems can become prime targets for cyber attackers.

    Scalability Issues

    The modern utility sector is driven by increasing urbanization, a growing population, and a shift towards renewable energy sources. But legacy hardware can’t keep up with this due to:

    • Inflexible Systems: Expanding operations or integrating new technologies is hard and costly with old systems.
    • Capacity Constraints: Older hardware struggles to handle increased loads, causing performance issues that can derail your expansion plans.

    Further Concerns

    Finally, let’s discuss the things that utility businesses often overlook, but ideally, they shouldn’t be.

    • Rising Complexities: Vintage hardware often has outdated connections or requires special switches, cables, or power, making data center operations more complex. For example, it might require front-to-back cooling in a rack, while the rest of the data center uses bottom-to-top airflow. This leads to inefficient space use, which is a big no-no.
    • Opportunity cost: One cost issue that is overlooked is the opportunity cost of vintage hardware. Keeping old equipment running forces IT teams to look backward when they should be moving forward. For example, vintage hardware could complicate plans to move on-premises equipment to a hybrid cloud operating model because the hardware isn’t certified for use in the hybrid cloud management platform.

    Top 2 Trends Fueling Modernization in the Utility Industry

    Have you noticed how fast the utility industry is changing?

    Some powerful trends drive this transformation, and utilities must modernize their legacy systems to stay efficient and meet new industry demands. Let’s break down the key trends fueling this modernization.

    Rising Demand for Renewable Energy

    Renewable energy is becoming more important than ever for utilities. This is due to environmental concerns and the push for sustainable solutions. So, utility enterprises need to adapt quickly.

    Modern infrastructure will help your legacy applications integrate distributed energy resources smoothly. It will also optimize renewable energy generation, better manage the grid, and meet the expectations of eco-conscious consumers.

    Advancements in Smart Grid Technology

    Smart grid technology offers utilities new ways to monitor, analyze, and control energy distribution. Legacy modernizing will empower your utility business to leverage intelligent grid systems. This allows for real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance, and effective demand response programs. Upgrading legacy systems also helps you make proactive decisions and creates a more resilient grid.

    Making an Informed Decision is Essential!

    Most utility businesses make mistakes here. In their minds, upgrading legacy systems means changing everything. But that is far from the reality. Actually, they do not have the right information. As a result, they end up wasting a lot of time and money.

    Look, you have three primary choices to align these mission-critical applications with an overarching data center modernization plan:

    Option#1: Application Migration or “Porting”

    It involves rewriting the application to operate on newer operating systems and hardware platforms. The primary issue here with this approach is the cost.

    Another concern is disruption in business continuity. Because your business may absolutely rely on an application that has been in use for the past 20 years or more. Maybe the application is necessary to keep your business running properly.

    In short, porting is a risky, time-taking, and multi-million dollar endeavor.

    Option#2: Buying a New Application

    Companies can purchase ready-made software solutions. These are designed to work for many different businesses. Experts will help set up and customize the new system to match the company’s specific needs.

    Option#3: Hardware Emulation

    This approach allows you to run your outdated applications on modern machines without writing any code. A new virtual hardware environment will be created that replicates your vintage hardware. Your mission-critical applications and operating systems will function just as smoothly as they do on legacy hardware; however, they are operating on a modern infrastructure. This results in a modern, cost-effective, and high-performing setup. After virtualizing on standard x86 Linux or Windows hardware, future upgrades or hardware replacements become easy and affordable.

    Okay, we know what you are thinking: you are not sure about which one to choose, considering your business goals. Worry not!

    Here is the deal:

    Both the “porting” or “buying” options necessarily require large-scale retraining of administrators and end users, which tends to create large ‘change management’ headaches for organizations. This adds extra burden at a time when people are already overworked just trying to keep up with their daily responsibilities.

    Executives at utility companies should reconsider before jumping on the bandwagon to upgrade traditional systems, which is currently a popular trend in corporate circles. Instead of hastily overhauling their entire legacy systems, utility business owners should contemplate a strategy that is faster, less intrusive, and creates a win-win situation: hardware emulation.

    Choose the Right Partner for the Project

    When it comes to hardware emulation, Stromasys remains at the top of business owners’ minds. We don’t boast of ourselves, but people do. The Gartner Group recognized us as the leader in “processor emulation.”

    We have designed our Charon® emulation software to assist businesses in addressing the IT obstacle of managing a complicated mixture of diverse legacy technologies and solutions.

    Charon® provides support to your classic software stack with a virtualized hardware solution so that your vintage application can still perform mission-critical tasks.

    Attention utility providers! If you really want to gain a competitive edge in this growing industry, it’s time to act. Consult with our experts to learn how to stabilize your utility infrastructure, simplify processes, and save millions of dollars.

    End Note: Modernize Your Utility Infrastructure Today!

    Sticking with old systems is holding your business back. To prepare for the utility industry’s transformation by 2030, upgrading legacy systems is essential. Outdated hardware leads to higher costs, security risks, and unhappy customers.

    Hardware emulation is a smart, cost-effective solution that avoids major disruptions. At Stromasys, our Charon® software is designed to keep your critical applications running smoothly on modern machines.

    migrating legacy applications to cloud Whitepaper

    Don’t let old systems drag you down. Talk to our experts at Stromasys to learn how you can modernize your infrastructure, improve operations, and save money. Embrace the future of utility technology today.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What is utility infrastructure?

    Basically, utility infrastructure includes the systems and processes used to provide essential public services like electricity, water, gas, and telecommunications. It includes physical assets and technologies that generate, transmit, and distribute these utilities.

    2. Why should utility businesses consider upgrading legacy systems?

    Aging infrastructure often leads to higher operational costs, increased vulnerability to cyber threats, and difficulty integrating modern technologies. This requires a modernized utility infrastructure that assists businesses in scaling and makes legacy system modernization necessary.

    3. What are the long-term benefits of not modernization of IT infrastructure?

    Countless. With a modernized IT environment, you can streamline your system and processes, improve your efficiency, reduce maintenance costs & risk, and take advantage of the modern infrastructure. As a result, customers will have a better experience, leading to increased long-term revenue.

    4. What is legacy system modernization?

    Legacy system modernization aims to improve performance, security, and compatibility with new applications and processes by updating or replacing outdated IT systems with modern technology. It may involve application migration, hardware emulation, or purchasing new software.

    5. What should utility businesses consider before upgrading legacy systems?

    Before upgrading legacy systems, utility businesses should assess their current infrastructure, identify specific goals and challenges, and evaluate different modernization strategies. Here, you should also evaluate the chosen approach’s costs, potential disruptions, and long-term benefits.