Technology evolves at lightning speed, and it doesn’t take long for the applications and hardware that once promised to serve all your organization’s needs to become a legacy system – and for that legacy system itself to present a business problem.
At ImageSource, we like the definition put forward by Washington state CIO Bill Kehoe: “A system slips into legacy status when its inherent limitations become a constraint or a risk to the lines of business it was built to support.”
Let’s look at some of the problems associated with legacy systems and strategies for overcoming them:
To begin with, legacy systems are expensive to maintain. Many older systems were designed around proprietary technology, which can be challenging to update. Many organizations that rely on unsupported systems must hire high-cost contractors or specialized developers to make even the most minor updates.
Legacy systems also pose a security risk when they are poorly equipped to handle emerging threats. Older systems often lack the encryption and authentication protocols necessary to protect sensitive information from hackers. Additionally, older systems that were not originally designed to connect to the internet often reveal vulnerabilities when integrated with modern applications and networks.
Finally, legacy systems present a barrier to innovation. When their core technology becomes outdated, these systems cannot support the new features and functionality required to keep up with changing business requirements. These limitations negatively impact an organization’s ability to compete within its market.
So, what can organizations do to navigate away from legacy systems? Here are three recommendations:
- Implement security measures: This step is vitally important and should be taken before any others. Don’t allow your legacy systems to be exceptions to your security policies. Add protections such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and access permissions tailored to the user. These measures protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access to the data that drives your organization.
- Modernize legacy systems: You can bring your existing system up to date by adding new modular enhancements or software. Look for solutions that integrate with the components you have in place while improving process efficiency, interoperability, and user experiences. This option revives the utility of your current tech stack and is significantly less expensive than ripping and replacing the entire system.
- Upgrade or replace legacy systems: If the manufacturer no longer supports your current technology, it is time to start upgrading or replacing the entire system. Don’t wait until your current system dies (and takes your data along with it!) to select a replacement. Document your organization’s requirements, identify a suitable solution, and start planning your changeover as soon as possible. Iterative options like database mirroring and day-forward go-lives allow you to get up and running with new systems immediately while strategizing a more extensive data migration.
The route you choose should be based on how much your legacy system’s limitations impact your business processes, whether other solutions can mitigate those limitations, or if a lack of support resources endangers your entire enterprise.
By identifying the limitations quickly and creating a technology roadmap based on precise requirements, you can effectively manage the challenges and protect your organization from the risks of relying on a legacy system.
ImageSource has helped hundreds of customer-partners modernize legacy systems or migrate to new solutions. Get in touch for help with an assessment, strategy, or solution design and implementation. Let’s collaborate!