Application Retirement: Focus on the Data

Bill Tolson

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Many IT departments are faced with static or shrinking budgets while the demands on their services continue to rise. Because of this, IT organizations are constantly looking for ways to stretch their budgets. One way IT departments cut costs is through application retirement: decommissioning aging enterprise applications that no longer add value or have become too costly to maintain. Though these applications become troublesome over time, organizations continue to support them for the purposes of data access and compliance. But in doing so, they sacrifice an ever-growing cut of the overall IT budget.

Don’t Forget the Data

Many companies decide to retire an application without also addressing its associated data, but this can leave the company with huge amounts of orphaned data that can later lead to legal or regulatory problems. For example, without the application present, searching for and reviewing the data in the case of an eDiscovery or regulatory information request could be impossible.

Nevertheless, some organizations simply delete all associated application data when they remove an application, a questionable strategy not only due to possible regulatory retention requirements and eDiscovery liability but also because of the loss of potential business value the data may hold.

The Application Retirement Planning Process

Applications can and should be retired, but the associated data cannot be wholly deleted. So the application retirement planning process must include the data, as well.

The planning process should begin by assessing which applications need to be retired and what data store(s) are associated with each.

Then, determine whether any associated data needs to be retained for regulatory, legal or business reasons. If so, how long should the data be retained, and how frequently do you expect it to be accessed?

Finally, a repository or archive for the data must be determined. This could be an already existing data storage solution, but it may be necessary to create something new. If creating a new solution, it should be flexible enough to accommodate data that will come in when other applications are retired in the future.

Gaining a thorough understanding of these questions and concerns will ensure that the application retirement process is successful.

Retire the Application, Archive the Data

Storing data from retired applications is a business and regulatory necessity. But in doing so, you must ensure that you can actually index, search and view the retained data. Simply storing the data in a long-term repository without the means to locate and read it will leave you open to eDiscovery and regulatory liabilities including penalties, fines, loss of business and loss of legal cases.

Retiring aging enterprise applications is a proven way to cut costs and free up IT resources. However, managing the remaining data in a compatible archive until the data has reached its expiration period is a step many companies forget to take into consideration. When starting application retirement projects, be sure to focus on the data.

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