Most enterprises will be sitting on a huge pile of legacy IT. Organizations that have been around for many years are likely to have a range of old applications. Modernizing IT systems, for example, can leave you with old, redundant applications; mergers and acquisitions often create duplicate systems across departments; and business restructuring can mean some applications are surplus to requirements. Even though these systems are no longer actively used, many are kept running to provide access to the valuable data stored inside, for example, for compliance or because the business needs the historical data for operational reasons. Managing legacy systems takes a large amount of time, money and effort and eats into IT budgets and resources. If you’re looking to streamline your IT landscape, you could consider decommissioning your legacy applications instead.
What is application decommissioning?
Application decommissioning is a process for removing an application from service while maintaining business continuity. There are a number of reasons why it makes sense to decommission your old applications, such as helping to improve data security, meeting compliance regulations, reducing business risk and increasing business efficiency.
Reasons to consider decommissioning your legacy applications
1. To improve your data security
Legacy applications are potentially the weakest link in your security chain. Security vulnerabilities in older legacy applications can be a risk to your business and may mean it’s not compliant with regulations such as the GDPR. Older applications may also be incompatible with modern security mechanisms such as multi-factor authentication. Solutions to fix security vulnerabilities – such as software patches, for example – may not be available for older applications, or they may be rolled out more slowly, because the legacy application is seen as a lower priority within the business.
2. To meet compliance regulations and reduce business risk
There are many business functions where data must be managed in accordance with compliance regulations. Legacy applications which are not up-to-date may not meet all the required statutory obligations, for example, such as enforcing data retention policies or ensuring the timely deletion of personal data under the GDPR. Older applications could stop working with newer systems or you could find that you no longer have the staff with the necessary skills to support an application if it goes wrong. All of these issues have costly knock-on effects for the business.
3. To increase business efficiency
Agility is key to businesses remaining competitive. There is pressure on IT departments to deliver new features and functionality quickly to support business development, but legacy applications can be difficult to scale and adapt. There can be a shortage of the specialist skills required to maintain legacy applications as the people with the right skills reach retirement age. Supporting legacy applications also distracts IT teams and the business from focussing on new digital transformation initiatives. Managing legacy applications is a drain on resources, costing time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.
Time to consider a decommissioning project?
If any of these issues sound familiar and legacy applications are holding back your business, it might be time to consider a decommissioning project. It’s important to look at your entire IT estate and consider why you are keeping certain applications and what they add to the business. Here are some questions to ask about your applications to start the discussion.
- Which applications are underpinned with static data? This is inactive data and is the right kind of data for decommissioning.
- How many duplicate applications are there? This is where the same application exists within the business or where there are overlapping applications.
- How many non-essential applications are there? This is where you’re interested in keeping the data, but not the application itself.
- Which applications are draining your IT resources and budget? These are the ones that are holding the business back from implementing new strategic initiatives and projects.
- What are the business requirements for the data? Is the static data in your applications still needed or could it be deleted? If it’s still needed, is it no longer updated (and can therefore be moved off the system)? How is the data currently accessed by the business and other applications within the business? And how will it be used by the business in the future?
- Can you identify all the business processes that access legacy applications?
- Do you know all the regulatory compliance requirements for your business? This includes the functions in your business and the industry that you operate in.
Once you’ve identified the applications which can be decommissioned, you can work with the relevant teams from across the business to understand what their requirements are for the data and how they need to use it. From here, you can create a business case to move the data to a secure repository. This should be designed in a way that provides continuity for business users who need the data: the data should be easy to access and use, and displayed in context so it makes sense. Your repository should also ensure the data conforms to compliance regulations and has the security features that are required by your business.
How Macro 4 can help
We have over twenty years’ experience helping organizations with their decommissioning projects using our Columbus enterprise management software solution. This includes processes developed over many years that have helped companies decommission hundreds of different applications and systems. Our solution ensures your security levels and data compliance requirements are met and by making legacy data easier to access and use it can help improve business efficiency.
In addition, if you’re thinking of moving your data center to the cloud, decommissioning can help reduce the migration costs. Rather than moving each individual application, you can move the data that underpins those applications into a single Columbus repository running in the cloud.