Old systems: modernize, leapfrog, shut down or stay the course

As IT ages, there is always the need to look at the systems used by a company with the intent of determining whether to modernize, leapfrogging (replacing the aged system with a brand new one), shutting down or keeping it. This is never and easy decision, and Shawn McCarthy lists some of the questions you should be asking before making the decision on a system. The paths listed above are all possible solutions to a legacy system, but not all of them are equal: IT needs to understand which of the above solutions is the most appropriate for the system they are looking at, and why it’s the best choice. Modernization, for instance, is useful when the legacy system is comprised of many different functions. Modernization allows IT to decouple the functions, keeping those that are most useful or important and allowing for easier updates and maintenance of the overall system. Leapfrogging is most useful when IT doesn’t want to spend time or money updating their legacy system. It also makes sense given the new prevalence of cloud solutions and SaaS: The shutdown of a system may be done for a number of reasons. It may be because leapfrogging to a cloud solution was productive, or because legacy modernization recruited parts of your legacy system for new assignments. These days it can also mean that a system’s functions are now supported as multiple discreet pieces via a larger SOA, with database, business logic, application logic and presentation all handled by component systems that each have their own long-term upgrade path. The final two choices are often the most dangerous: shutting down the system or keeping the system on board. Before doing either, IT needs to objectively look at how the system is helping the organization, how that function can be rerouted through other means, and what not upgrading or moving to a new system would mean for the organization years down the line.

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