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Legacy System Migration to the Cloud - Is Your Organization Ready?

With the changing business dynamics, it can be difficult to keep up the same pace with aging systems. Such systems have survived in an organization for decades or so because of some irreplaceable factors including internal resistance to technology changes, critical business processes are running on them, etc. But, in this digital realm, where customer behavior and enterprise norms have shifted, business applications demand modernization to remain competitive.

Aged IT systems might run the basic functions they are meant to do but relying on these outdated systems is highly risky - the chances of having system failure and crashes at any time, is always there. In addition, there are many hidden costs associated for running and maintaining such legacy systems.

While migration from legacy system to cloud is continuing to evolve with promising potential, businesses in different domains are re-thinking their models and IT infrastructures to stay relevant to customers’ expectations and technologies alike. 

Is your organization ready for the legacy system migration?

Consider this: Do you have an existing IT infrastructure, software or applications that restrict you from meeting your evolving needs? If so, you may need to think of legacy system migration.

What are Legacy Systems?


A legacy application is a computer program which, although critical to an organization’s operations, is in an obsolete format or is installed on an obsolete IT hardware.

These systems work in isolation in tandem with exclusive data repository. Therefore, the communication between these legacy systems to other newer applications becomes a cumbersome process because it requires compatibility with communication interfaces and data conversion components. Companies also need to invest a hefty sum of money on their integration tools so that it can adapt functionality in sync with modern technologies and make their business processes flexible.

Overall, legacy technology will encounter problems with maintenance, support, improvement, integration, and user experience.   

There is one extreme example of legacy systems (nearly 60 years old) that hold the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) back from modernization. The outdated programming language and hardware on which the platform was built and running respectively could not process the electronically filed tax returns (around 14 million submissions) on Tax Day 2018. It was said that there was a computer glitch which made the Govt. to extend the deadline of filing returns for 2 more days.  That legacy IT systems somehow continued to function, but it certainly has not helped the IRS and fell short on the expectations of filing tax returns.  

That said, legacy system may ‘work’ for the time being, but they cannot support the accelerating pace of the business world that demand change.

Why are Legacy Systems Risky towards an Organization Growth?


In your legacy system migration journey, moving to the cloud is not the ultimate objective. Though cloud is an optimal choice because of its tremendous benefits, businesses often underestimate risks in cloud migration including unclear strategy, incompatibility with existing architecture, data loss, security, etc. 

Given below is a list of risks of migrating legacy systems to the cloud.

No Clear Strategy in place

The very first thing to consider is to decide which application or IT system setup you want to migrate to the cloud and what applications to run on your on-premises data center. Without having a clear legacy system migration strategy, you may end with huge loss in terms of system failures. To avoid this risk, a comparison between cloud service providers is essential depending on your needs. Costs should not be the only factor while opting cloud service provider for migration. System performance and high availability are also some crucial factors in migration.

Incompatibility of the Existing Architecture

Many tech entrepreneurs say that the complexity of their IT architecture comes with several risks in the migration process. It cuts down the pace of migration due to lack of IT specialists available, who can look after the entire architecture ‘fit for the cloud’ at the speed they require. During the process, when organizations move applications, they merge public and private clouds with on-premise assets to create a hybrid environment. Without a proper plan, it will become a cumbersome process to manage hybrid environment.

To prepare the migration architecture for your legacy system, it is important to have a team of IT professionals who will do the audit, figure out dependent components and create documentation. Hence, a cloud architecture compatible with underlying in-house IT infrastructure is a failsafe way to minimize inconsistencies and interoperability problems.

Data Loss

It is imperative to take data backups, especially for the data files that you will be migrating to a cloud platform. The reason behind this is you may encounter issues like corrupt, incomplete, or missing files. To avoid such scenarios, it is good to have backups of databases stored on a server or in the cloud. Configuring backups of migrated data files is a prudent way to save time and money.

Wasted Costs

Though the pricing models of cloud are flexible in terms of pay as you use (compute, storage, and data transfer), it often becomes difficult to understand if you’re a novice user in this field. In fact, Gartner analysts estimate that as much as 70% of cloud costs are wasted. Organizations that fail to figure out the resources that want to use as per their business use case usually waste their costs.

Here are some points to optimize your costs: delete idle instances; right-size your workloads, leverage autoscaling, explore whether hosting in a different region could optimize costs, etc.

Added Latency

Unwanted latency at uncertain times can cause serious damage to your business. Applications like e-commerce websites, video streaming solutions, gaming platforms, medical equipment (pacemakers & insulin pumps), self-driving vehicles have an exceptionally low tolerance for latency. To avoid this risk, either host such applications on-premises or make sure your migration service provider has optimization services to fix latency issues.

Security

Many companies face security concerns followed by cost and legacy infrastructure. The risks include compliance violations, breaches, vulnerable APIs, issues on the provider’s side, misconfigured servers, malware, hacking attempts, accidental errors, insider threats, etc. You need to have DevOps engineers and an experienced security team in place that can assure the long-term security of your data in the cloud.

Why does it Make Sense to Migrate to the Cloud?


Let’s consider one example. XPO Logistics was struggling to intake custom orders from over 50 retail customers, which included processing in several warehouses and distribution centers, and ensuring the same day delivery, due to the dependency on various outdated third-party platforms. Seeing the potential of legacy system migration and modernization, the company created exponential growth through process re-invention (migrating all existing third-party dependencies to first party tools). This modernization helped the company in gaining new contracts sold through XPO last-mile and an uplift of 30 thousand plus daily deliveries of ecommerce goods across the US quickly and efficiently. 

Undoubtedly, a large volume of legacy systems exists today. These systems have been up and running for years and enterprises have been using them to serve their mission-critical business applications. Typically, it is quite challenging to keep up and running the business processes on obsolete technologies.

There are multiple reasons why it would make sense to migrate legacy systems to the cloud.

Support for Modern Technologies

Migration from legacy systems to the cloud enables your company to adopt new technologies in a swift manner. It will also enable cost-efficient, just-in-time technology adoption in response to business demand for new opportunities.

Reduced Cost

This is yet another important benefit of migrating to the cloud. Rackspace, a cloud service provider, analyzed that 88% of companies save costs while running their applications on the cloud. Having a local server incurs cost pertaining to continuous maintenance and support. In addition, you do not need to pay for the IT staff to manage your system resources.

Elasticity Support

Capacity planning is a major challenge on most on-premises and legacy systems.  Cloud’s “Pay-as-you-go” model removes the physical restrictions to scalability, reduces the limitations of adding servers, and cuts down the cost of supporting IT infrastructure to a data center.

Speed up Application or Service Deployment

Many organizations initiate cloud migration to speed up the process of deployment of applications and services as it doesn’t require building and maintaining on-premise IT infrastructure. The cloud technologies help organizations in setting up the systems quickly by avoiding complex processes like purchasing the right servers, updating operating systems, and configuring on-premise data centers.

Geographic Scalability

If an organization wants to expand into new regions, it becomes extremely difficult to sustain the need with legacy systems as they require huge capital costs to maintain and run software on them. Moving to the cloud, capital cost can turn into operational costs, and thus, can remove the need to maintain expensive datacenter, tools, and the manpower in IT staff to back it.

Things organizations should Consider before Migrating Legacy Systems


With advanced technological benefits, cloud computing has been considered as an efficient yet cost-effective option for businesses seeking modernization and upgrades. Cloud platforms pose a lot of unexpected challenges on the road ahead while considering migration. Addressing those challenges as early as possible will help keep your implementation on track. 

Here we’ve outlined some important considerations that you must consider in account while taking a migration decision.

Analyze Business Goals and Objectives

Modernization or replacement of legacy systems is not an all-or-nothing matter. The best practice here is to identify the problem statement, why do I need cloud migration, which applications specifically need migration to the cloud, what benefits do I expect to achieve, what capacity do I require, etc. Analyze the consequences of the migration implementation beforehand.

Cloud Security

As security is one of the major concerns in cloud migration process, you should choose a reliable cloud computing solution. Legacy modernization specialists take security seriously and employ tools, best practices, and policies on a regular basis or at scale to ensure data migration from legacy systems should be smooth and efficient.

Redundant Connections

Equipment failures, system outages, etc. are some common problems. While choosing a legacy migration service provider, use redundant network switches, servers, and storage facilities, which ensure high availability of systems even during failures and outages.

Guaranteed SLAs

Make sure to have an SLA signed and properly documented before you begin work with the migration specialist. While SLA is important, it must guarantee accessibility, and control over accessibility of the applications. Most of the time, SLA does not contain any terms on the operations, or loss of uptime. You must check the SLA for business uptime, backend support, and employment of best practices, before moving ahead.

Managing the Infrastructure and Cloud Deployment Models

As part of the legacy system migration strategy, the management of the infrastructure is a crucial aspect. You should choose a migration specialist or vendor that can ensure of the following, monitoring, maintenance and support of the system application or software. When coming to the cloud deployment models, you must consider the pros and cons of each cloud model – Private, Public and Hybrid Cloud as per your business use case.

Conclusion


For your organization considering cloud migration strategy, there are multiple factors that you should consider in account to prevent risks and harness significant benefits that it manifolds. Although it’s not an easy decision to take and not primarily the modernization or replacement is the solution, the transformational journey starts with better optimization of your applications and underlying IT Infrastructure. It could involve launching a mobile app with better customer experience, migrating age old excel data to a single DB instance to help users get meaningful insights, and so on.

At Icreon, we understand your data migration and application modernization needs. Our migration exerts perform an analysis on the basis of your crucial business needs, and walk you through modern tools and platforms like Dockers, Kubernets for application development and AWS, Azure for a cloud hosted platform to derive immense business growth you’re anticipating through migration.  If you’re ready to take the next step, get in touch.

Questions?