Author: Rahul Ajani

Legacy Systems: To Replace or to Not That is the Question

Time is the ultimate luxury in business. Yet, several businesses, including market leaders, are taking time mulling over when to replace their IT applications.

There are obvious and not-so-obvious reasons for switching over to cutting edge IT solutions. But with all the good things of new technology, the scale of change and the temporary disruption that it might bring during the transition, along with the cost and the toll it takes on the organization and its resources can be equally big. This article examines reasons why organizations withhold plans for replacing their IT solutions, why they must replace, and when it is the right time to change.

Why the dilemma?

“What is the definition of a legacy system? One that works!” said somebody in satire. That might be the reason why managers face a dilemma about replacing them: it still works. But there’s more to it. Legacy systems have come a long way to entrench themselves almost inextricably in organizations, making managers and investors equally perplexed as to whether and when to replace them. Here’s how:

24/7 Availability

IT systems have become the backbone of businesses. They need to be up and running, constantly. Even a glitch for a day could cost a fortune. If that sounds exaggeration, you might want to read Comair’s story where the failure of their legacy system for one day resulted in a loss of $ 20 million. No wonder, even the idea of replacing the systems might send shivers.

The Black-Box

It’s not uncommon to have black-box type systems: they work wonders, but few understand how, if not nobody. Those few geeks who coded the system or had clues about it might have left long ago, and the documentation might have vanished, too. Things become worse when these black-boxes are mission-critical applications.

It’s tempting to patch up and keep going just a little longer: web services, middleware, mid-tier platforms, virtualization can alleviate several problems and put a modern