Magazine / Cloud enablement Oct 21, 2020 11:46:06 AM

Modernizing the legacy systems: transforming the enterprise

Today, the transformation of the company towards the new dynamics of digitalization necessarily passes through the modernization of legacy systems.

By legacy system we mean an IT component (hardware unit, application, process) based on outdated technologies that do not properly support the fast and flexible models of digital business.


Evolving legacy systems to support digital business

Several companies are still reluctant to evolve legacy systems: the main fear is to nullify the investments made previously or to replace "something that all in all works". There are obviously also more objective limitations that complicate technological modernization, such as the lock-in imposed by some vendors or integration problems, but we need to overcome uncertainties and finally have the courage to redesign processes and infrastructures.

Keeping legacy systems unaltered means only partially acknowledging the competitive advantages of digitization, but this could entail too high a price to pay. To satisfy an increasingly demanding and global clientele, business today requires efficacy and efficiency of processes, speed of delivery, the ability to change course and in a possible negative scenario of failure, to react promptly to change while minimizing economic repercussions. Digital Transformation is a key element to innovate the offer and ensure operations at an appropriate pace, but must be supported by flexible and cutting-edge information systems, redesigned on the model of cloud computing.


The revolution brought by the cloud over legacy systems

The as-a-service paradigm, which provides for the use of IT resources as a service that can be purchased from cloud providers, is in fact replacing legacy systems by virtue of a series of advantages: infrastructural elasticity, asset scalability, speed of implementation, pay-as-you-go, and so on.

At the architectural level, the cloud has revolutionized the way of designing and doing IT: from the centralized mainframe of the sixties, passing through the server-client paradigm with the spread of PCs in the eighties, we finally arrived at the era of cloud and mobile computing since the twenty-first century.

From a practical point of view, if the traditional model based on legacy systems provided for a company-owned datacenter, with resources and applications installed locally, the IT infrastructure cloud journey changes the rules of the game through two directions:

  • construction of a private cloud, through the virtualization, rationalization and automation of internal physical components (servers, storage systems, network equipment);
  • use of the public cloud, or the rental of information resources that reside and are provided by the cloud provider.


Multicloud environments replace legacy systems

In fact, the trend today is to replace legacy systems with hybrid environments (that is, that combine public and private clouds) and multicloud (drawing on different services from various suppliers).

Legacy systems give way to IT used as a service in its various forms: Infrastructure-as-a-Service when it concerns hardware components and their management; Platform-as-a-Service if the company rents a complete development, test and distribution environment from the provider; Software-as-a-Service regarding applications. Thanks to as-a-service, corporate IT can focus on core and value activities (i.e. serving business requests and tackling innovation projects), while the more operational and maintenance parts are delegated to the cloud provider.

IT administrators will therefore have the task of "orchestrating" the information resources: they will in fact centrally manage the plurality of "bricks" (the different cloud services) that make up the corporate information environment. Providers will be responsible for providing constantly updated, safe and ready-to-use technologies, in compliance with the agreed Service Level Agreements.

Compared to legacy systems, the cloud model thus lends itself to respond to the needs of scalability, as well as infrastructure and application delivery speed imposed by modern business, often subject to load peaks that are not always predictable. All within predefined contracts that allow greater control over IT spending and transforming Capex (the costs for creating and owning information resources) into Opex (payment only for the use of resources).

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