With the explosion of digital, progressive companies across all industries are looking to incorporate next generation technologies that address business challenges.
The problem is, many are stuck with older IT systems which are unable to keep pace with today’s dynamic business demands. Not only are these systems costly to maintain – as any IT manager will attest to – but they’re difficult to integrate with newer technologies.
If this is the case in your company, you might be thinking about an infrastructure migration. Before you go any further, though, there are some important considerations you need to make.
Out with the old?
Put simply, a legacy system becomes a burden when it:
- Costs too much to run
- No longer supports business needs
- Requires technology or skills that are hard to find
Got a few systems that meet the above criteria? The decision to start afresh might seem like the obvious one at first – especially now that technologies such as cloud and mobile are more mature and thus safer options for the organisation.
However, deciding whether to keep, cull, upgrade, or replace an existing system is not a simple exercise. First and foremost, IT managers need to have an idea of where the business is heading. You can’t choose which systems will best serve you if you don’t know which platforms you’ll be supporting in the next 3-5 years.
As one CIO told TechTarget, “You have to have an approach that starts with strategy alignment and then looks where the gaps are, and then evaluate how to fill those gaps.”
Once you’re familiar with the business strategy, consider whether your current systems are up for the job. Can they automate workflows and produce the same process efficiencies that new systems would? Can they support digital technologies?
Rate your infrastructure
A good way to simplify the process is to create an evaluation ‘rating’ system. Start by recording the following information about each of your current systems:
- Costs required to maintain it
- The amount of business going through it
- Critical business transactions it handles
- Impact on the end users
- Impact on the business
- Security risks
Comparing the information will help you decide which legacy systems need attention first, as well as whether to rip out and replace a system or leave it and update it.
Cost vs risk
In a nutshell, CIOs must balance cost and risk against value when evaluating the lifespan of legacy systems. Consider how much it will cost to upgrade and replace a legacy system, along with the value that upgrading or replacing will produce for the organisation.
Although you save money in the long run, in many cases, migrating to newer systems requires a significant financial investment. If your organisation is like most, you don't have the money or staff to update, replace or eliminate all the legacy systems you’ve identified as needing help.
If, after your evaluation, the costs and risks of a current system are higher than its value, then the refresh option is the way to go.
As digital technology continues to revolutionise the way we live and work, organisations in all industries must adapt to remain competitive and relevant. Don’t wait until problems arise. If your company is running on legacy systems, you need to be proactive.
Conduct a thorough evaluation of your infrastructure, and be clear about which systems will and won’t support your business in the long run. If you would like to read about the High Price of Aging IT Infrastructure go to our recent blog that discusses this topic.
We also explained why you shouldn’t put off that infrastructure migration project in a previous article.
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