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6 Reasons You Should Keep Your Legacy Systems

        posted by , January 06, 2012

It's a fundamental law of the technology universe — all systems need to be replaced with time. However, just because a system is legacy doesn't mandate that it be replaced immediately. The frequency at which you replace legacy systems impacts your IT and business efficiency.

Replacing a legacy system can be expensive and high risk. Legacy replacement projects should only be undertaken after careful consideration and planning. There are 6 good reasons to keep your legacy systems:

1. Recognize Your Competitive Advantage

Your legacy system may represent a competitive advantage — retiring it may hurt your business.

If you've built a customized solution that's highly adapted to your organization, competitive environment and industry — switching to a generic packaged solution may actually decrease your competitive advantage.

2. Modernization is Often a Better Choice

It's often cheaper and lower risk to continually improve your existing system rather than pursue a big-bang style replacement.

3. Replacement is Painful

Large scale legacy replacement projects (often) have a high risk of project failure.

4. Users Don't Like Change

People don't like change. When you replace legacy systems — don't underestimate resistance. Replacing a legacy system asks a lot of impacted business units and users:

Project support (requirements, testing, etc).

Process changes (changes people's jobs).

Possible hiccups in the new system may cause downtime or require workarounds.

Even a successful legacy replacement project can be highly unpopular.

5. Options are Available

When your legacy system has reached end of support it's often possible to negotiate a special support agreement. In other cases, it's possible to purchase the source code from your vendor.

6. Take Advantage of the Future

The longer you wait to replace your legacy systems — the more modern your next system will be.

Let's say you have a system from the 1970s. If you replaced it in 1995 — you might have chosen a technology based on CORBA that has fallen out of general use. If you replaced it today you'd have better technology choices.

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