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CIO Outlook: Dealing with Legacy Applications

What is the path of least resistance for legacy apps in the cloud?

Legacy apps are surely the albatross of the modern cloud-enabled IT department – you put them there, and now you have to live with them.

Short of scrapping millions of dollars of worth of investments, something needs to be done with these apps, especially when cloud adoption is altering the efficiency and cost landscape for IT.

The first thing is to consider is why the move needs to take place. The reality for most companies is that there is a finite amount of space they can utilize in the data center. Companies have certain apps that they want to run locally, which is often the most mission critical aspects of their business. If its healthcare that’s EMR, if tis retail that’s the point of sale platform. These applications need as  low latency as possible since there will always be someone in the organization that’s doing something very important and needs that data as quickly as possible.

old/new sign

What is the path of least resistance for legacy apps in the cloud?

Most orgs have a pile of legacy apps that are really more like little pieces of things that the business can’t function without. They’re tiny old systems, inventory, products, websites: all this stuff that on any given day is too onerous to rebuild so most businesses leave them where they are in the data center. As a CIO, when considering moving legacy apps to the cloud, simply being able to take all that stuff and get it somewhere is only part of the deal. Doesn’t have to be super high performance (manhattan mini storage of it)

Here are a few other important considerations for legacy apps in the cloud:

1) Compatibility: Is the app in question running on X86 right now? If so, it’s probably ok. If its mainframe, some old programming language, or IBM AIX, its probably not going to be ok. There are tools that help with this (porting old apps into X86 and Linux) in development from VMware, among other providers, so if your MSP is a VMware shop, ask them about this.

2) Reverse engineering: You might be able to easily move the app itself, but can you also pickup and move all the little dependencies and tie in to that app everywhere else in your infrastructure? If its sitting on a network and is hardcoded into who knows what, are you going to spend more time going back through its footprint and understanding what will happen if you pick that app up to move it to a new IP address and new data center location? Most likely the time/money issues associated with this process are more easily dealt with by not dealing with the legacy app. If you knew the app well enough you could just rewrite it, but short of the time and resources a rewrite would take, moving the app into a cloud environment requires a certain level of confidence that the move will work, as well as a lot of attention paid to ensuring that the process is well thought out ahead of time.

3) Licensing issues:  If the app is not something that you’ve designed, like an old accounting dynamics system or point of sales system, or any other platform you bought a million years ago, there are potential issues around moving the app relative to licensing issues. If you move it are you going to have to pay for licensing again? Is the licensing you have going to apply? You may have a data center enterprise global license and transitioning the app on a bunch of VMs will cause your bill to go up.

The cloud can deliver real benefits to an organization’s legacy applications including cost efficiencies, increased performance, reduced latency, as well as improved facility and upkeep. But it’s important to know what has to be handled before a legacy app can be transitioned to a cloud environment.

Thoughts? Let us know on Twitter @CloudGathering.

By Jake Gardner

Read the original blog entry...

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