Legacy Applications Threaten Digital Transformation for IBM i Shops
July 23, 2019
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More than half (67 percent) of IBM i users admitted to keeping legacy IT applications running simply because the historical data they hold is still useful according to new research SoftLanding Systems, a division of UNICOM Global.

However 60 percent believe retaining these systems can hold back digital transformation initiatives because they are difficult to integrate with more modern systems.

According to Jim Fisher, SoftLanding Operations Manager, organizations should ideally have a process for identifying older applications as they approach end of life and retiring them while moving the valuable historical data to a secure accessible store which can be easily integrated with modern applications.

"The challenge for many enterprises is that there’s often no one person or team with a remit to take on this task," explained Fisher. "Only 37 percent of IBM i users who took part in our survey could identify a designated person or team with responsibility for retiring legacy systems, regardless of the platform that they run on. As a result, many obsolete systems continue to live on long after being actively updated with new data, typically because they hold many years of historical information needed for compliance, or for operational reasons such as handling customer queries."

Respondents to SoftLanding Systems’ survey highlighted how retaining legacy systems could hamper digital transformation in three other ways:

■ Content or data from aging or legacy systems is often difficult to convert into new digital formats (48 percent

■ Aging or legacy applications are difficult for today’s end-users to manage without additional training (43 percent)

■ Aging or legacy applications monopolize IT resources that could be better used on newer systems that support digital transformation (33 percent)

"Any digital transformation strategy must include plans for how you are going to handle the existing legacy set up," said Fisher. "If you can find an effective way to decommission these systems you can free up valuable IT resources that can then be ploughed into new digital initiatives."

"If you can move the legacy data into a secure content repository, you can actually make it more accessible both to end users and new applications," he continued. "This is an important consideration for organizations that want to limit the risks inherent in data access and, at the same time, make significant strides towards meeting regulatory compliance such as the GDPR."

70 percent of the survey sample said that the aging applications they are keeping alive after they have stopped being updated with new data included in-house applications; 22 percent said they included off-the-shelf packages; while 37 percent said they included modified off-the-shelf systems.

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