Challenges and Opportunities when Upgrading Legacy Systems to Modern Technology
Finding the time and money to upgrade aging or legacy technology is a tricky business. The apprehension that comes along with having to learn new systems, acquire new skills, and budget for new technology is daunting and oftentimeseasy to put off until the next month, quarter, or year. In the following interview, Zach Lenz, President of GPL Technologies, shares his perspective on upgrading legacy systems and why it’s so important:
Thank you, Zach, for your time! Let’s start by asking what is considered to be a legacy system?
Well, in simple words, a legacy system is an old method, technology, computing system, or application program that isn’t or will no longer be supported or updated by the developer. In short, legacy systems are older ones that were once considered cutting edge and paved the way for newer technology to evolve.
Can you share an example of a legacy technology?
Sure, an excellent example would be pagers. Pagers were all the rage in the 90s, but when was the last time you saw or used a pager? Aside from the world of healthcare, pagers are mostly obsolete in the workplace. However, pagers made it possible for modern cellphone technology to become a reality. Eventually, any older technology becomes the legacy for the next modification.
In my experience, the necessity eventually becomes so great that there isn’t any more time to put off the inevitable, and the hunt for the right type of technology begins.
Why do you think companies delay the change?
As I mentioned before, one main reason for hesitation is cost. Also, upgrading is not something that can easily be changed from one day to the next. Research into proper equipment is critical along with the right talent to install and maintain it.
What do you think needs to change when it comes to budgeting for upgrades?
Definitely adopting a long-term view would be beneficial. Most companies establish their budget once per year, so costs associated with replacing legacy systems should be built into the anticipated annual IT budget. Many companies are used to paying recurring costs for updates and maintenance on their legacy systems but might not be aware that these costs could decrease significantly by upgrading to newer technologies. Furthermore, as legacy systems get older, maintenance costs go higher as support gradually phases out and talent moves on to support newer technologies.
Is training a reason why companies delay the switch?
Yes, for sure. The current IT support team knows the technology that is in place at this moment. Implementing new systems means training your personnel and allowing time for them to acclimate to how to service it. There will also be a learning curve for your employees outside of IT, and they may require training as well. Training is time-consuming and an expense that needs to be budgeted along with the cost of equipment.
Are there any risks involved with not modernizing your technology?
Yes, this is highly risky from all perspectives. Organizations need to be aware that delaying modernization or not modernizing their technology does involve important risks.
Can you explain some of those risks?
Sure! There are many, but I will focus on three that I consider that can affect your business continuity: integration, scalability and compatibility. Regardless of how old your hardware or software is, it needs to integrate well with other tools and applications that your business interfaces with daily. If you need to integrate a new system that will improve your business, like say a live chat feature, but your software is incapable of handling that type of function, that hinders your ability to make improvements. Your software needs the ability to continually update to keep up with changing demands, or it’s time to upgrade.
Are aging systems more vulnerable to cyber-attacks?
Absolutely. With the significant increase in remote work this year, we have seen many companies struggling to keep up with network security best practices, especially as outdated systems are more susceptible to malware and security breaches. The older the system, the less resistant it is to cyber-attacks and harmful software. Even technology that has aged only 5 to 10 years is not as reliable. These types of attacks place your data in jeopardy and can severely compromise your business.
What about business performance on aging systems?
This is a very good question and a very common problem that comes with aging systems. New software runs faster, and wait-times are practically nonexistent, but as it ages, the operational time increases. There will also be an increase in glitches and performance will suffer. Once your systems start crashing and stop providing the same reliability as before, it could be time to consider improving your technology.
Do you think that support would also be an issue?
Yes, it is. Third-party vendors offer support to their equipment for a long time, but eventually, they will stop servicing their older software. What I have seen is that if they do continue to provide support, it could be more costly than before because now they are offering a specialty service. So in the end, not modernizing your technology will have a huge impact on efficiency and costs.
Is cloud computing an option?
Before cloud computing truly took off, increasing data centers meant adding new hardware and more personnel to manage the additional hardware. However, with cloud-based systems and hyperconverged infrastructures, scalability is not dependent upon hardware. Increasing the network can happen instantaneously without taking time to install new hardware and run hours of updates. A cloud-based infrastructure may not be the answer for everyone right now, but more and more companies are making the shift to this type of system.
How is GPL Technologies helping organizations facing these challenges?
Whether it’s challenges involved with working from home or an adjustment in business model brought on by changes in revenue streams, every business is feeling the effects of the global pandemic in one way or another. One constant, though, is the importance of finding a trusted technology partner to help your business overcome whatever technology challenges may present themselves.
Over the past 18 years, we’ve built GPL to focus on delivering world-class technology solutions that fit the unique needs and goals of each of our clients.
As a full-service IT provider, we offer bespoke managed IT services, customized cloud strategies, network security, hardware and software sales, hardware rentals, application design and even short-term and permanent staffing solutions that can help you through your modernization and continued growth. No two clients are the same and we thrive on helping each one capture what makes them truly unique by leveraging technology in creative and effective ways.
Want to learn more about making changes to your legacy systems?
Head over to our contact page to have a member of our team contact you to review your current technology and explore your options when it comes to upgrading your legacy systems. We can develop a plan that is customized to suit your business and help you reach your goals.