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Legacy IT Systems: Hidden Risks Revealed

You may feel a commitment to your old legacy systems, but in some cases they might be leeches that will continue to suck your organization dry. In an article for InformationWeek, CIO Jonathon Feldman elaborates on his own personal experience with legacy systems, and how to finally let them go.

When Old Systems Start to Sag

There are two different types of legacy systems. The first are production systems that should indeed be used by legacy. The second are systems that have gone obsolete, and are only used for “lookup” purposes. The essence of the problem boils down to your organization trying to survive in the 21st century while using technology that is 20 years old. It is the job of the CIO to direct the organization to better technological success, while still supporting the organization.

There is a great deal of risk associated with keeping a system around for the mere purpose of utilizing it to look things up. Users are under the assumption that if this app is still around, then it is still fully functional. IT, however, believes that the company has already moved any important data, and that this legacy system sticks around for mere convenience. Both assumptions are actually wrong. After the pertinent information is moved, IT no longer believes in investing in the app, and there the users’ assumptions are false.

It is additionally false to believe there is no harm in keeping the system around until it dies of natural causes. As long as it is still there, it is using resources. Most likely, someone will miss the system once it is gone. Having the system stick around, even if it is only for the purpose of “lookups,” indicates that there is no urgency to be rid of it. As long as the old system sticks around, some employees will continually rely on it and never realize the greatness of the new system. This may also indicate gaps in the new system that employees are trying to use the old system to fill.

The best thing you can do is to have the difficult conversation with your IT customers that the old system will be discontinued. Additionally, make it clear that the old system will not have the backups or maintenance of the old system and it is in their best interest to leave it in the past. If you did not make all of this clear at the launch, it is not too late to let everyone know!

Transitioning away from legacy systems all on your own can be difficult though. Consider outside services who specialize in legacy application support and can maintain your legacy systems for you while your businesspeople are busy learning the new system.

You can read the original article here: http://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/executive-insights-and-innovation/legacy-it-systems-hidden-risks-revealed/a/d-id/1324342

About Danielle Koehler

Profile photo of Danielle Koehler
Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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