Organisations continue to keep legacy IT applications alive because the historical data those systems hold remains useful, despite a recognition that running these obsolete systems poses a major risk to digital transformation, data privacy and security.
According to a survey of IBM i users by SoftLanding Systems, lack of resources (52%), resistance from business users (39%), lack of in-house skills to retire applications (37%), and having no-one with overall responsibility for retiring applications (35%) are among the main reasons for businesses deciding to keep the legacy systems alive to retain access to the data rather than moving the data elsewhere.
However, 63% of respondents admitted that legacy applications are often difficult to integrate with newer systems introduced as part of digital transformation strategies, and 73% recognised that it is harder to control access to sensitive data on legacy applications in line with data privacy regulations such as GDPR. Meanwhile, 44% agreed that legacy applications on older operating systems are more vulnerable to security threats.
SoftLanding operations manager Jim Fisher points out that legacy systems are typically harder to fix when they go wrong, and cost more to support as maintenance charges increase for older applications. This potentially takes away resources from new IT projects.
Fisher recommends that IT departments should create a repeatable decommissioning process that will work for any legacy application that needs to be retired.
Businesses should also ensure that any new system can manage all decommissioned data in a secure and compliant manner – and provide ease of use to address any potential concerns from staff around the business.