As companies continue to grapple with the need to become more digitised, many are being held back by legacy technology. The cost of modernisation is often an inhibitor, but removing the risks associated with outdated technology far outweighs the price.
“The first step organisations need to take is to understand what legacy technology and applications are running in their environments and how critical these are to their business, which requires a thorough assessment of the environment. Once that has been done, there are various options around the use of the existing legacy application, completely rewriting it, or just assisting with the migrations of those applications. This is determined based on the organisation’s needs and the actual application,” she says.
One of the biggest risks associated with outdated technology is security. “It’s relatively easy for an attacker to scan an environment and identify the vulnerable areas,” says Tshabalala. “Once the technology has reached the end of its lifecycle, there typically will no longer be security updates available for it, which means you are potentially exposing your organisation, your network and your data.”
While most companies are aware of the need for modernisation, dealing with it is a lot more difficult than it sounds. “Firstly, there is the cost associated with modernisation, but through the right partnerships, this can be managed. Regulated environments such as financial institutions face another challenge in that once their technology stack has been certified, even minor component changes will require complete re-certification,” she adds.
The modernisation of technology infrastructure and operating systems also has an impact on the applications running in an organisation. “When organisations modernise their technology and operating systems, this can result in their enterprise applications breaking,” says Matumane Tshabalala, managing executive of Application Services at Business Connexion. “If an application is developed to run on older operating systems and these are upgraded to more modern versions, the application will break, which means the entire application might need to be re-engineered.”
She adds that companies are increasingly looking for a consolidated view of their enterprise applications. “We come from a history where whenever we had a problem, we threw software or an application at it. Where clients used to rely on the industry in the past to advise them on what solutions they needed, they are a lot more informed nowadays. So, they are taking back the control and looking to consolidate as much as possible,” says Tshabalala. She adds that the wilderness of applications available does not make it any easier. “Employees are using applications in their personal capacity and are expecting the same convenience in an enterprise environment. The problem is that, rather than looking at a consolidated approach, organisations look for quick fixes to appease employees, resulting in them deploying applications that don’t necessarily fit into the long-term strategy. Any application deployed within an organisation needs to be part of a bigger technology roadmap to ensure long-term sustainability as solution evolves.”
Modernisation focuses on more than just current business needs, taking into account the enterprise’s future business needs. And while it comes at a cost, it will enable the organisation to be far more agile and competitive. “Organisations not crossing the digital divide could ultimately become irrelevant,” says Tshabalala. “Digitisation is rewriting the rules of competition and if CEO’s are not abreast of this, they will be left behind,” she concludes.