The Risk of Reliance on Legacy Systems
Do you count yourself among the many business owners across the country who boldly cling to tried-and-tested servers, despite their slip towards obsolescence? Perhaps, in your boldness, you have continued to use these IT dinosaurs to run a critical application because they’ve been “up to snuff” or “getting the job done.” For various reasons, organizationsoften find themselves relying heavily on legacy platforms to handle their critical processes. It seems these businesses can’t let go of these relics of past success. Unfortunately, these dust-balls they call servers are far from holy relics, as the potential damage that can stem from an overreliance on dated IT is considerable.
Seemingly in spite of research that clearly illustrates the benefits of the transition towards digital IT, many businesses continue to hold onto their old servers like their businesses depend on it, when in fact, it's likely the opposite is true. This inability to evolve and adapt could mean big risks for your business. In fact, to throw out a possible example, in anexamination of the banking sector by Tenemos,aging IT was counted among the greatest threat to the industry. This same examination observed that maintaining said legacy systems makes up ¾ of IT budgets for the banking industry on average. This senseless retention of systems which cost too much money and open holes for possible security risks is one of many examples of industries retaining their systems when the sensible option is to move on. Sure, these servers may feel like a trusty old car, but even the most trustworthy of models become obsolete eventually.
Investment in new technology can produce strong future returns, but few businesses invest heavily into new technologies. The remainder of the IT budget is wasted attempting to support power and budget hungry legacy system maintenance. These legacy systems and older technologies will, by their nature, necessitate spending more money on maintenance and upgrades, ultimately resulting in a reduction in the budgetary allowance for innovation.
These legacy systems, because of their age, naturally lack many of the features which now come standard on modern systems. Older machines frequently lack the power saving capabilities of more efficient modern technologies, and often run slowly and inefficiently, largely without virtualization features. This inefficiency leads to a system which not only runs poorly but is also more expensive to run, because a system this old can expect frequent problems, requiring constant attention from your IT staff.
This rundown of how it drains your business doesn’t even account for the issue of an increased component failure rate, which means tracking down replacement parts that are likely hard to find and out of production. Additionally, as the technologies we use slowly cycle out of rotation, so too do the IT staff required to support them. This puts you at risk of allowing your legacy server to outlast the staff trained to maintain it, perhaps leading to expensive training on your part to get someone up to speed on maintaining the tech. That is, of course, if one can still get training for a system as dated as said legacy server.
This is a factor that should not be underestimated, as security risks can be count among the largest threats to the viability of older tech. It’s simple: the longer cyber criminals have to find holes in an operating system, application, or security measures, the more likely they are to find gaps in security and infect your system (doubly so for systems which are no longer receiving active support from the technology developer). Here’s a hint: if the company that makes your system no longer supports it, it's because that tech has become largely obsolete.
The late Steve Jobs even observed the fast moving world of IT and the progressive obsolescence of technology when he stated, “This is not a field where one paints a painting that will be looked at for centuries or builds a church that will be admired and looked at with astonishment for centuries. No, this is a field where one does one’s work and in ten years it’s obsolete, and really will not be usable within 10 or 20 years.”
Don’t underestimate the negative impact a lack of support from developers has on IT, as it should be counted among the most consequential issue faced by dated business IT. This is because, while the developer has moved on to bigger and better things, cyber criminals have not, giving them time to slowly develop holes in your security. Think of it as a prison; without regular check-ups on the prisoners, even armed with nothing but plastic spoons they’ll eventually be able to tunnel out. However, if one were to have prison guards who could notice the attempt, they could improve the walls holding them in long before they were able to tunnel anywhere. So don’t let cyber criminals tunnel slowly into your system because no one is watching for developing threats. If the developer of your business platform has abandoned the platform due to perceived obsolescence, perhaps so should you.
When organizations consider the high cost of maintenance, which comes with legacy systems and the countless risks brought upon one’s self for remaining with them, they must then take a good look at the infrastructure from which they work. Bad infrastructure can lead to a business experiencing diminished reputation, lowered profitability, and handicapped competitiveness. It's simple, really; older tech, as we have discussed, has an expiration point, with software and hardware finding itself largely obsolete in as little as 10 years. This older tech simply can’t stand up to its modern counterparts, limiting your business’s flexibility, speed, and data analysis capabilities.
The world of business is cutthroat, and, make no mistake, your competitors are coming for your business. You have to fight to survive, and when you are chained to your old legacy server, it's often a difficult fight to win. This is a simple case of Darwinism: you adapt or you die. Making use of modern infrastructure is allowing your competitors better communication, quicker response times, and higher security. So why would you deny yourself these same benefits? The reality is that you just can’t hope to be competitive in the 21st century when you are stuck on 20th-century technology.
Downtime and Responsiveness
Due to outdated software running on outdated hardware, increased downtime is unavoidable. It's in the nature of hardware and software which no longer sees active support to be constantly replaced by the next best thing. These systems aren’t just suffering from newer systems outperforming them; rather, they experience a perceived phenomenon colloquially referred to as software decay.
Now, since this isn’t an actual decay in the software, but rather a lack of support and compatibility with modern tech, this ‘decay’ does lead to an actual slowing down of your systems. This diminished responsiveness is likely to result in your systems becoming faulty, or even unusable, leaving you with no choice but to upgrade. The damage which a business can cause themselves when their critical IT systems fail can be devastating. While this sort of failure on the part of your IT could be minor—like IT staff constantly having to refresh or reboot the system—it could also be something a little more severe, like minor data loss. Frightening as it may be, these failures can often be yet more devastating, causing more than damage to your bank account, and leading to a critical state for your business.
Unavailable or unreliable servers can mean that your customers are left unable to engage with your business in any meaningful way, possibly limiting their ability to purchase your products. If you were to experience such a critical state on, let's say, your busiest day of the year, you’d be kicking yourself for having missed opportunity after opportunity, sale after sale, because you believed you could rely on your old true tried and tested system. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that failures such as these cost your business money, and depending on the severity, your old server could easily deal a fatal blow to your business.
Newer platforms, like the cloud, are offering businesses around the globe the ability to benefit from a constantly updating and improved performance. This constant improving of the platform from which they work comes without worry about fronting the bill for such upgrades themselves, with data centers using subscription fees to provide a better service to their customers, as is likely their prerogative. Don’t forget, they too are trying to compete for your business. This provides business owners with the opportunity to secure their data and work efficiently off of a carefully secured, frequently updated, and meticulously maintained platform.
The world of business is no doubt changing, and this change accelerates by the day, with the benefits of the cloud also engaging in constant growth. Within this constantly growing and evolving market, innovation, and adaptability are key to the success of your business. Technological advancement and capitalizing on it is often indistinguishable from business innovation, often offering a high degree of flexibility—an essential trait in the ever-evolving world of business. So don’t let your legacy system be your business’ downfall. Consider an upgrade today.