One of the oldest and most common technology questions organizations ask themselves regularly is, “Should we keep improving what we currently have or should we build something new?” Unfortunately, the answer is never simple and can even change from day to day. One moment, your legacy software is fine, serving your organization well, and keeping up with your customers’ demands. The next, you’re up against a brick wall and need to build a new application infrastructure to keep your business running.
Ideally, the latter situation wouldn’t happen thanks to some regular infrastructure evaluations and the ability to anticipate existing system limitations, but even big changes you know are coming can still feel jarring. In fact, the desire to not face a big change is often the main reason that organizations continue to plug along, extending their existing legacy infrastructures until they absolutely can’t do it anymore. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that building a new application infrastructure because your existing system is failing isn’t an ideal situation. Decisions are rushed, priorities are murky, and rarely does the finished product feel like the best it could have been.
Basic risks of extending legacy systems
- Eventually, legacy software disappears and you’ll be forced to find other solutions.
- Legacy software is no longer a priority for support or security (and hackers may be a little too familiar), so it may be less secure than something more current.
- You must be diligent about updating or your systems will be extremely vulnerable.
Main reward of extending legacy systems
- There is no immediate disruption to your organization.
Basic risks of building a new application infrastructure/moving to the cloud
- Current applications may not function in a cloud environment.
- General disruption to the organization may occur because of the change.
- There will be costs associated with migrating.
Main reward(s) of a hybrid or cloud-based infrastructure
- It solves legacy software issues, is more secure, and equips your organization for future growth and innovation.
Quick Case Study
Simon Fraser University, one of Scalar’s clients, came to us because their existing infrastructure could no longer keep up with the demands of their users. They kept requiring more and more storage, but the manpower needed to maintain the physical servers wasn’t increasing and their IT staff was feeling the strain. It was time for a change.
Taking a hybrid approach, we were able to migrate them to NetApp solutions, giving them the ability to scale without causing any major disruptions to their organization. Because we knew that disruption was their main concern, the Scalar team planned, planned, and planned some more. We chose NetApp because their IT team was familiar with the technology and the learning curve wouldn’t be as steep. This also saved money because it required less training and essentially no downtime.
Cost and disruption are undeniably major concerns for any organization, but modernization should be included as a top priority as well, especially in an educational institute like Simon Fraser University. Technology shouldn’t be a barrier to innovation, but rather an enabler. Migrating Simon Fraser University to a hybrid infrastructure achieved exactly that — and did it with virtually no disruption.
Mitigating Migration Risk
The decision to maintain legacy software or start fresh doesn’t need to be a blind one. Speaking to an infrastructure specialist is a great place to start and can give you a good idea of the timeline your organization will be working with if you choose to do something like migrate to a hybrid or serverless infrastructure. Assessments from experts like these take into account how your existing applications will function (or not function) in the new environment and will give you a full picture of the disruption and costs associated with adopting new technology. It will also shine some light on your existing infrastructure and will be able to draw your attention to the most urgent legacy software issues you may have.