Legacy Software and System Support Solutions
We are all aware of how quickly IT changes and with software being continually updated as new versions and new ways of engaging with IT emerges. For example Java 1.4 in some areas is now considered to be a legacy system as is VB6 and even ASP.NET. Perhaps your organisation built these systems many moons ago or perhaps has inherited legacy systems through mergers and acquisitions. Either way, however you look at them, they are old, historic, vintage..... legacy!
What is a legacy software application or system?
A legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program that continues to be used, typically because it still functions for the users' needs, even though newer technology or more efficient methods of performing a task are available.
Perhaps you have some of these systems and technologies, they could be mainframe, client-server or even web, developed in technologies such as:
- PROGRESS 4GL
- Informix 4GL
Or, as mentioned Java and Microsoft.
What are the challenges with legacy software and systems?
So, you have an ageing IT application or system which is still critical to your business and you are finding the cost of maintaining these software applications and systems in-house can be high. Many legacy systems have been developed in-house and it could be that staff with these skills have left or even retired and your current staff may not want to be re-trained to work on ageing systems. Have your internal IT budgets been cut and staff have been deployed elsewhere to work on new development projects? Maybe the vendor doesn't now support your software or system and how would you incorporate your legacy system into your disaster recovery plan?
What are your options?
- Migrate - move the application(s) into new strategic technologies and/or platforms
- Transition - maintain application(s) and components in preparation for migration based on business change
- Mothball - "lock" application(s) into a suspended state based on maintenance only.
Migrate will be driven by your IT strategy and based on priorities of the relevant programmes. A continual balance is necessary between the impact of sustaining the application(s) and what is required to migrate. Internal teams offer many benefits in terms of efficiency for sustaining and migration, yet such benefits may be easily lost if inadequate governance is allowed or resourcing risks are realised.
Transition will be reliant on business change to trigger a change in status, justifying the increased investment required for migration. Residual maintenance becomes more complicated with time and if transition is undertaken in a phased approach the risks associated with sustaining the application(s) and/or components progressively increases. Sustaining internal teams is prone to difficulties as there are limited events that ensure appropriate skill and knowledge is maintained.
Mothball seeks to exploit the business value in the application(s), whilst restricting investment, sometimes referred to as "cash cowing". The need to assess the value derived versus the costs, including lost opportunity costs provide a continual challenge. The use of internal resources is increasingly difficult as the primary driver is to reduce investment, whilst maintain benefits.
How can OCS solve legacy software and system challenges?
At OCS we believe that organisations with diminishing IT budgets and resource skills being in short supply, their business critical legacy software applications and systems need not be re-developed in the latest technology or made obsolete, downgraded or unsupported, there are other choices. OCS specialises in the custom development, support and maintenance of legacy software applications and systems. We have over the last 25+ years supported many systems and software with some now being classed as legacy. Not only does OCS have experience in supporting various legacy systems and software but by using OCS to help with the support and maintenance of these systems by supplementing your own IT teams with our staff, it enable you to utilise your existing staff to work on new development projects.
OCS Consulting's CEO Maurice Aroesti was recently contacted by Iain Mackenzie, Technology Reporter for BBC News to give an insight in to OCS' experiences of legacy systems and software. Read here for the full article - "When to pull the plug on old software" .
So if you're thinking about how to maintain and support your legacy application or system during 2011 and onwards and would like to have an initial chat regarding OCS' experience and how we can help please contact Linda on 020 8731 4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org