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Legacy technologies and deciding how to progress can be a double-edged sword if you don’t get it right. The status quo is continuing to help your organisation run and remain competitive, but it requires time and investment.

As technology continues to progress, is the current time and investment going to increase and is it going to become more difficult to modernise?

Legacy applications running from on premises infrastructure are a reality for most organisations, from small-sized businesses to enterprises. But if your legacy systems seem to be working, then why fix something that isn’t broke?

In this blog, we discuss what legacy technology is, the risks that it brings, and what you can do to modernise your infrastructure and technology stack.

What is legacy technology?

Legacy technology is an application that is usually critical to day-to-day operations but based on outdated development processes and technologies.

In reality this means an application that is deployed locally to devices, usually as part of a build image (another legacy technology), while the core data and management of the application remains on infrastructure.

This creates a disconnect between where the user is accessing the application and where the core of the application is hosted. This means trust must be established between the two, meaning trusted connections and devices must be used, with various security systems required to protect each threat entry point.

In contrast, modern cloud applications are developed to ensure all components of the application are developed together behind a perimeter of security. Meaning connection or device type are no longer important, and the greatly reduced entry points for threats allows greater focus for more intelligent security to be introduced to reduce risk further.

It is tempting to believe that ‘legacy’ is defined by age, but this is not always the case. It may be defined by the lack of support, a newer system that is available, or its inability to meet the needs of a business.

The 8 risks that businesses face sticking with legacy technology

43 percent of CIOs believe legacy technology and infrastructure is a barrier for digital transformation, so it is clearly a problem within the world of IT that needs to change. Here are the main risks associated with sticking with out-dated technology:

1. User experience

The most important risk all IT decision-makers should be taking into consideration is that relating to user experience and creating a collaborative, flexible environment. Having a combination of legacy and modern applications can be painful for users wanting a seamless digital journey and those who are responsible for managing it.

IT teams are now responsible for more than keeping systems running and fixing problems, they are responsible for the services they deliver meeting the cultural expectations that their customers need.

2. Poor use of budget

As the technology continues to age it will become more expensive to transform if a proactive approach to modernisation isn’t taken. Legacy technology generally costs more to run and maintain, compared to cloud services when considering total cost of running the service.

While the cost of running the legacy platform is generally delivering little value to the end user, where the cost saved from utilising a cloud service could be invested in more beneficial elements of the overall service that delivers a greater impact to the user.

For example; patching a service, although important is not something that an end user necessarily see value from. However improved connectivity will.

Data breaches and cyber attacks are increasingly becoming a major focus for organisations around the world.

Sticking with legacy technology increases the vulnerabilities to these attacks.

3. Dwindling knowledge

As legacy applications get older, fewer IT professionals have the relevant knowledge to support them. As existing professionals retire, the talent pool for those with the relevant skills becomes smaller and therefore more competitive and costly.

They are also less desirable skills to have, with many IT professionals wanting to keep their skills relevant with current technology demands.

4. Lack of support

If it is a third-party legacy application in question, many software providers are actively wanting their customers to move to their cloud version. This creates an environment where support can be limited, costly, or at worst-case non-existent.

5. System downtime

Legacy technology means total responsibility lies with the IT department for ensuring the systems are available. As systems become more aged, they are more likely to crash and therefore require the resources of an IT department, pulling them away from projects that could be creating business opportunities.

Furthermore, downtime affects workforce productivity and hits the bottom-line of an organisation.

6. Security vulnerabilities

Data breaches and cyber attacks are increasingly becoming a major focus for organisations around the world. Sticking with legacy technology increases the vulnerabilities to these attacks. And because these systems are becoming increasingly unsupported by the manufacturer, unpatched operation can be a threat.

Once more, careful consideration needs to be given when considering a hybrid cloud solution.

When you move to a cloud first strategy, you put identity security at the heart of it, but that will miss out your legacy applications due to their design, and the advanced security technology isn’t available to make your out-of-date applications as secure. This results in an environment that is only partially secure.

7. Incompatibility

Most out-of-date technology is incompatible with newer applications, such as using API’s to extract data to gain insight from.

Staying with the legacy technology means further problems that wouldn’t have existed are created to try and solve other organisational challenges.

How can you modernise legacy technology?

Modernising your legacy technology brings competitive advantages in the market you operate in; creates happier, more motivated employees and clients; unlocks business opportunities (such as those involving data analysis); and improves reliability and performance.

Companies need to rethink their business models, making them digital-ready, but legacy technology is only one aspect of the problem.

Usually, a far bigger factor to address is the mindset that comes with it. Leaders need to build a culture of curiosity and focus on technology that can deliver.

It’s important for those leading digital transformation to think primarily about the needs of end-users. It’s tempting to want technology that is familiar and suits the needs of those managing it, but this won’t bring about the best business results.

Take a step back, focus on what your requirements are instead of focusing on the technology first, and then look for an alternative that is cloud ready.

What is the best way to keep up to date with technology?

Work with a partner that you trust and who is an expert in the industry.

Instead of directing them on exactly what technology you want to upgrade, instead open-up a discussion with them around what your end goals are and they should be able to advise on the latest emerging technology that fits your criteria.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help with your legacy application and infrastructure migration, contact us today.