The True Cost of Legacy Systems and Data

How to Break Down the Investment Barrier and Decommission Legacy Systems via Strategic Data Archiving

The need to decommission legacy systems into a more manageable and secure platform is becoming a core focus for many organisations, with the data world constantly changing, the harsh reality is that businesses needs to keep up in order to stay competitive and compliant.

An article by InformationWeek noted that public and private sector organisations devote as much as 70% of their average annual IT budget to legacy software maintenance.

Building on that observation, Gartner has also gone on to predict that every dollar invested in digital business innovation through to the end of 2020 will require enterprises to spend at least three times that to continuously modernise its legacy application portfolio. 

If we consider that (according to a recent study by Deloitte, published in the Wall Street Journal) the average annual IT investment within the Finance and Securities industries amounts to more than 7% of total company revenue, that’s a staggering impact to your company’s bottom line.

In real terms, it translates to billions of lost annual investment, stifles technical innovation, and places IT departments under mounting pressure to “keep the lights on” while somehow maintaining focus on new challenges and improving business processes. Such high operating costs make it nearly impossible for most organisations to truly invest in new technology, leaving them further behind the curve each year.

With this in mind, organisations are feeling the pressure to decommission legacy systems, whilst retaining the data required for regulatory purposes or to support business critical processes. Finding a modern-day, cost-effective single Enterprise solution suitable to host and provide fast and easy access to all of the required data – both structured and unstructured – can appear to be unattainable.

Decommission Legacy Systems with Strategic Data Archiving

As a solution to the legacy data conundrum, Strategic Data Archiving is used by many organisations as a more cost-effective alternative to keeping legacy applications running. Strategic Archiving provides a simple way of extracting all key data from redundant applications and keeping it accessible online – for compliance and operational purposes.

With key data migrated, the expensive legacy system or application can be fully decommissioned, freeing up resources and reducing risk and costs to the organisation.

Why not migrate the legacy data away onto tape or move it to a new application?

This is a fair question which is very simply answered:

  • Writing legacy data in a raw format to tape, or other offline storage, does not generally provide a workable solution. When separated from the original application, the raw data will be out of context, slow to access, and impractical and inefficient to trawl through.
  • Migrating huge volumes of archived data to a different application could significantly impact core system performance and extra disk space and back up storage would be needed – at further cost.
  • Lastly, rewriting legacy applications using new technology, just to support read-only access to data, is time-consuming and costly.

Strategic Data Archiving is a much quicker, simpler and more efficient approach. But where do you begin?

Step 1 – Understand your Data Landscape

The first step towards identifying opportunities to decommission legacy systems is to complete an enterprise-wide inventory of your business systems and determine what kinds of data you create, manage and support. This can be a complex task but only with full knowledge of your business-critical data landscape can you truly understand what you need to retain and why. With a full audit of your technology infrastructure, you can identify any system overlap and/or redundancies.

Step 2 – Identify your Data Owners and Key Stakeholders

When embarking on any decommissioning activity, you must understand who the key stakeholders are and what their requirements are for the movement and maintenance of the legacy data. This data is not only important for regulatory compliance but may be business-critical to a specific business area or department for fulfilment of operational processes and/or for key decision making. As you gather requirements from data owners, remember to consider the business and legal implications and the long-term requirements of that data rather than just a technology approach.

3 – Know your Data Types (Active or Inactive)

Structured and unstructured data continues to grow at a staggering pace. An important step in managing the lifecycle of this information and ensuring the most efficient and accurate means of archiving it is to clearly understand what it is and how it needs to be used. Identify active (the data is continuing to be generated) versus inactive (purely a historic data source, which is no longer growing) data sets in your systems and separate the data into their respective categories.

4 – Understand your reporting requirements

Arguably, one of the most important considerations of any Strategic Data Archiving project is the longer term reporting requirements. What information needs to be available? At what frequency? What format is this required in, on demand? Are there any legal/regulatory use cases for the data? What are the compliance requirements for recalling inactive information and its audit trail from the beginning of its lifecycle? It is incredibly important to answer these questions before decommissioning legacy data.

5 – Understand and document your corporate data retention policy

When considering the requirements of any Strategic Data Archiving project, it is first key to fully document and understand your corporate data retention policies, including if, how and when any disposal holds must be applied. Speak with your organisational experts whose responsibility it is to control these rules and policies – they can help support this phase of information gathering.

6 – Standardise with a single archiving solution

For optimum results, your new archive location should be a single source of historical data. When legacy data is required, a single visit to your strategic archive should provide all the required information quickly and completely.

7 – Develop a plan and schedule for decommissioning

For all the reasons previously outlined, system decommissioning should quickly follow any Strategic Data archiving activity. The actual decision to decommission legacy systems however, can impact many different departments and people and so a full system impact analysis as well as identifying all consultable stakeholders is key.

Key Benefit Summary:

Release up to 70% of your IT budget

Decommissioning legacy systems can free up maintenance budgets, reduce infrastructure costs as well as the need for associated resources. Supporting legacy applications can be expensive, especially as older systems often require specialist skills to keep them ticking over. By moving the underlying data to a secure, searchable archive and decommissioning the original application, you will reduce reliance on expensive legacy IT skills, no longer have to pay support and maintenance charges and can divert IT staff to more strategic initiatives.

Consider outsourcing the storage and software solution to a third party, ensuring predictable costs and a high quality of support for your business.

With the money saved, you could then re-invest it into more revenue-earning projects and/or improve existing processes. IT industries simply cannot afford to be behind however, high operating expenses make it really difficult for most organisations to invest in new technology.

Free up space

Decommissioning Legacy systems and Strategically Archiving the data will significantly simplify your storage requirements by removing the need for multiple systems. The majority of organisations are already moving to cloud based computing and adding data to this journey is a logical development which will dramatically change the shape and size of the average infrastructure footprint relied upon in application development.

Preserve Data and ensure Compliance

Strategic Data Archiving ensures data is retained and managed as per your organisations legal requirements. And since 100% of the data is extracted, you can be certain your data will be available, accurate and consistent and maintained in line with your organisations record retention policies

StorARCH is a secure cloud based digital storage, archive and retrieval solution for data, documents and media of any format. An access-controlled, configurable user interface provides a powerful search engine, allowing users to instantly locate, view, redact and safely download documents and data.

To find out how StorARCH can help your business decommission legacy systems and achieve your legacy Data Archiving targets, get in touch with us today for more information.