Retiring Legacy Systems and Applications

Gary Rylander


The decommission, or retirement, of systems and applications is driven by a convergence of forces. Redundancy due to mergers and acquisitions, improvements in technology, migration of legacy systems or applications to cloud-based alternatives or simply a lack of support for current legacy systems or applications may serve as the impetus to pull the plug on older systems or applications.

With large enterprises regularly spending 70% or more of their IT budgets on costs associated with maintaining existing applications, each legacy system or application that can be decommissioned serves to reduce hardware and software maintenance costs, data storage floor space, energy costs and labor. Retiring applications that are online may also reduce security risks since older technologies may not be as secure as newer alternatives. The simple act of getting content offline will present a smaller target to cyberthieves.

In large enterprises, up to one-third of legacy systems or applications are candidates for retirement. However, when retiring applications, you must take into account the need to access the contents of retired applications if the content remains within its retention period.

Ask yourself the following questions about information governance and business issues when considering retiring your records management system:

  • Which records retention categories and retention periods apply to the candidate legacy systems and applications?
  • Which legal hold preservation obligations apply to the candidate systems and applications, and what are the chain-of-custody requirements to archive these?
  • Does the legacy system or application have to be retained as an archive, or can it simply be disposed of?
  • Which contextual issues relate to the candidate systems and applications that are being archived? In other words, to make sense of the application, does it need to be linked to tables in other systems and applications? This would call for a cross-application archiving strategy whereby aspects of multiple applications are linked and archived together to form a single business object.
  • How often and for how long will the archived application need to be accessed? This will drive a strategy of whether to put the archive on a lower-cost online storage tier or move it to near-line or offline storage.

The cost savings benefits of legacy system and application retirement are very significant. According to Gartner, significant cost-reduction opportunities (as much as 20% of the total application baseline cost) can be achieved by aggressively pursuing an applications retirement initiative. By partnering with a third-party vendor, organizations can get an in-depth look at their existing systems and get advice on how best to proceed with retiring their legacy systems.



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