A typical IT environment contains legacy systems comprised of applications and data that have been superseded by new solutions, or inherited as a result of business mergers or acquisition.
Legacy applications are of low value to a business, but they must be maintained and supported to ensure access to the data they hold which is often required to meet compliance regulations and support reporting, audit or legacy discovery. These applications are often no longer supported by the vendor or are on legacy infrastructure and require specialized knowledge to maintain. As a result, they are expensive to retain and may represent a risk to the organization.
Decommissioning Legacy Applications
As business applications reach the end of their life cycle, they will typically be superseded by other applications with more advanced functionality, better integration or more modern user interfaces. A classic example is when a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is introduced, replacing many older systems. However, these older systems often contain sensitive business data that has not been migrated to newer applications.
Consequently, businesses keep these obsolete systems alive - simply to preserve this data. Unfortunately for the business, this is done at a cost.
The Decommissioning Struggle
Expenses that are typically present include application software support licenses, server expenses, environmental costs and even administration costs for simply operating and maintaining these legacy systems. Additionally, organizations often struggle with decommissioning legacy applications after their business use, which creates a tremendous amount of redundancy across the enterprise.
When pursuing an application retirement strategy, an organization must begin by considering a number of business and policy questions.
If decommissioning legacy applications is a priority, these six questions may provide a roadmap for change.
- Which legacy systems should be kept operational and which should be decommissioned?
- For the systems that are to be decommissioned, what data actually needs to be preserved?
- For what period of time should the archived data be retained?
- What relations between data fields will be important for providing business context?
- Which users will need access to data and what levels of permissions need to be supported?
- What queries will users need to perform and how should the results be presented?
Currently, information archiving solutions allow legacy applications to be shut down and decommissioned, which saves the costs associated with supporting and maintaining them. Archived information remains accessible, ensuring support for business reporting, auditing or data retention policies.
The need for change is starting to surface.
CIOs are recognizing the importance of archiving by including an archive strategy in their overall information management vision and strategy. A proper archive solution enables large volumes of business information to be stored and managed in a single repository to ensure long-term preservation and retention management.
The technical solution is to decommission legacy systems after transferring their data into an enterprise archive. Leading archiving solutions today archive legacy data so that the system can then be switched off, eliminating all its associated costs. The archived data is then accessible for all business needs and will meet retention and other compliance requirements.
The benefits of archiving are beyond dispute. Significant cost reductions can be achieved by adopting a holistic enterprise archive platform. With trends in information storage moving more to cloud computing, big data and information protection, organizations require complete solutions for enterprise archiving that are built to allow the user to find the information they need, regardless of the application that created it.
Today, enterprises are seeking integrated content management products that archive inactive information from legacy applications - allowing them to be decommissioned. By adding archive technology, organizations can preserve the value of enterprise information, satisfy retention policies and ensure regulatory compliance.