As the head of the corporate function aimed at administering ICT technologies within an organization, the Chief Information Officer is also responsible for planning initiatives for the modernization of legacy software, today still widely present in companies of any category. And this responsibility of the CIO, typically, does not simply remain confined to the sphere of the technological strategy to be chosen and implemented, from time to time, in the company to modernize legacy systems and face innovation challenges.
Instead, it also extends to organizational aspects: the latter concern the management of change at the level of business processes, and of all the people who, with their work and their specific skills, contribute to making the processes themselves work.
CIOs, legacy software and new spending models
A key aspect of change management activities also relates to the restructuring of existing traditional IT contracts, which companies must necessarily implement. This is to be able to manage the complexity of the on-premise technological infrastructure, typically expensive to administer, rigid and difficult to adapt to current business needs. Moving from a classic IT service supply contract to a cloud service supply contract allows an organization to transform its spending model. In fact, thanks to the cloud it is possible to migrate from a Capex paradigm of economic business management to an Opex model, which increases the agility of IT resource management and measures the cost based on actual consumption. However, the CIO must have the skills to guide this transition properly by competently analyzing and evaluating the terms and conditions specified in each cloud contract.
Legacy software, modernization requires skills
At an organizational level, being able to manage the transition process in the transfer of skills, or in the creation of new skills, in the least traumatic way possible, for people and for business productivity, is already a first big challenge. During the modernization process of legacy software, the CIO is in fact managing the generational shift. The senior and experienced technical staff are retiring, bringing with them a wealth of decades of experience in application development, or in writing custom code for mainframe systems; on the other hand, the new generations of young newly hired developers must be able to be trained in a short time on this technological heritage, and at the same time be prepared to integrate with it the latest generation software technologies, required to develop modern cloud native applications.
Towards the cloud, to eliminate the 'silos' of legacy systems
To overcome the limitations of traditional IT infrastructure, in which applications and data are structured according to a rigid silo architecture, which makes interoperability between different systems and business departments complex, today the CIO is increasingly considering technology migration strategies based on cloud and cloud native applications. At this point, however, the problem arises of how the manager of the company information systems should act, in order to successfully choose the cloud service provider and also the system integrator who will be able to help the organization to carry out its own, personal, migration path to the cloud in the most natural way possible. The transition from legacy software to modern applications, in fact, should never be an insurmountable shock, but a smooth transition.
Avoid technological lock-in
It is essential not to remain indissolubly linked to a given cloud provider. In general, we speak of vendor lock-in when an organization strongly depends on the technology, often proprietary, of a given supplier, which is incompatible with those of other vendors. Similarly, vendor lock-in, and the possible, consequent, problems or impediments in the execution of the legacy system modernization strategy, can also occur when a cloud provider uses proprietary technology, which causes incompatibility with other clouds. For example, when custom configurations are adopted, or API (Application Programming Interface) and proprietary cloud management tools. In other cases, the lock-in is caused by the conditions of supply of cloud services specified in the contract signed with the cloud provider, and by the inclusion in it of particular constraints or restrictions.
The right partner against legacy software
The strategic importance of relying on high-level partners arises from all these considerations on the migration process.
It is therefore necessary to select system integrators with skills able to range over different technological platforms; to master the latest software technologies (containers, microservices) and to orchestrate the portability of cloud-native applications from one provider to another.
In other words, system integrators capable of adequately guiding the organization, both towards the cloud paradigm and in the process of selecting the most correct cloud provider.