December 4, 2017
Author: 
Tomás O'Leary

Senior executives may regard legacy systems as a necessary (and costly) evil for archiving purposes. But the reality is that in the era of Big Data, these older data stores, systems of record and applications are a valuable source of insight and, indeed, are often the cog in the wheel for many of the newer applications. As these systems remain active service, they will need a reasonable level of support to protect them – and IBM® is no longer the company to be providing it. When business agility, data transformation and quality of customer service rely on speed, you need a support partner who can respond quickly.

When speed of business is crucial to establishing a competitive advantage, many senior decision makers assume that legacy IT equipment has no role to play in their strategy. Surveys show that most decision makers believe that legacy systems are actually preventing them from making digital advances.

For the CFO, the case is even more clear cut. Legacy systems are expensive to run – at least under the traditional model – and should be replaced. For example, when Cloud analysts publish average annual costs of legacy storage without any kind of context, it is even harder to justify keeping older systems in place.

You can’t just dump legacy systems

But in the era of Big Data, legacy applications do still have an important role to play. Collecting data is not difficult, but making sense of it is. Historical data is often crucial to providing the context required for creating actionable insights. If that contextual information is held on legacy systems, they are actually a vital aspect of your Big Data program.

This creates a paradox – the “evidence” decision makers see in the press suggests that legacy applications cost more to run than new systems. But they also know that new software cost a fortune, especially once you factor in the consultancy costs of a major migration away from those legacy platforms.

As your business begins applying Big Data insights, the value and importance of legacy applications actually increases. So what are the options moving forwards?

Cloud – not the magic bullet promised

Cloud platforms can plug many gaps in the corporate IT environment, but they fail consistently on one key factor – speed. The off-site nature of hosted architecture means that latency is built into every single transaction as information requests pass over the Internet.

When dealing with vast datasets in real time, the Cloud simply cannot compete with the local data centre – at least not in a cost-effective way. The reality is that the Cloud is not always a suitable replacement for expensive legacy applications and databases.

A major upgrade program

Most CTOs would give anything to rebuild in-house systems from scratch, but the cost of doing so is prohibitive. Even a basic upgrade program is extremely expensive – there’s the cost of the physical hardware, new software licenses, maintenance and support contracts, and the consultants to plan and carry out the data transfer process.

Can it be done? Absolutely. But how long will it take to realise a return on investment that exceeds the cost of leaving the existing legacy platforms in place?

Third party maintenance – an alternative cost saving option

One of the largest costs associated with legacy applications is actually the annual IBM® support and maintenance contract. As the data held in these older systems increases in value, the option of simply cancelling contracts is taken off the table – they will inevitably require expert assistance eventually.

To further complicate matters, IBM® cannot deliver the service you expect. With Big Data algorithms increasing the importance of almost every data store you own, responsive support is us as important for legacy systems as it is your front-line applications. Which opens the possibility of third party support and maintenance for your legacy IBM® software.

Choosing to partner with independent third party providers like Origina can solve several of these Big Data related problems though. For a start, the team is made up of ex-IBM® engineers, skilled in the legacy software that Big Blue can’t actually support themselves any more. Secondly, third party maintenance contracts are typically 50% or less of the same agreement with IBM®. Thirdly, customer issues are responded to (and fixed) quicker.

You can have your cake and eat it

Simply dumping legacy IBM® software is not a viable option in the age of Big Data. Nor is a wholesale upgrade and migration to newer platforms.

But with the assistance of a third party maintenance provider, you can keep legacy systems in place and avoid the cost and resource issues used by OEMs to sell more new gear. To learn more about your legacy software in the age of Big Data and how Origina can help, please get in touch.

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