Companies benefit when their IT systems run seamlessly. However, with computing displaying the unnerving ability to shift at lightning pace, it can be challenging to know when to invest in upgrades. From a security and productivity perspective, one of the biggest hazards that organisations face is attempting to run legacy systems. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is A Legacy System?
Legacy systems are early versions of hardware and software. For example, dial-up internet can be described as a legacy version of broadband. Nobody uses dial-up any longer, and it is consigned to the pages of both history and – for some of us – painful memory. Not all systems become ‘legacy’. Some of them are regularly updated and always have been. For instance, the first MS Word version was released in 1983, and whilst that particular version will only run on the archaic (and legacy) Xenix operating system, Word itself is still going strong, with the newest version running seamlessly as part of Office 365. However, many software programs fall by the wayside. Developers stop updating, fixing, and generally caring about them. This doesn’t only happen to old systems; any abandoned system is consigned to the legacy dustbin.
Why Are Legacy Systems A Problem?
As developers move on, legacy systems become increasingly problematic. They are not designed to work with newer systems, and this leads to compatibility issues. For many companies, the results of running legacy systems are seen in the form of inefficiencies and productivity loss due to slow processing. However, legacy software can also be associated with data loss and security risks. Old systems are easy for hackers to access, so are the equivalent of leaving the office door unlocked. Due to compatibility problems, responding to a cyber-attack can be a real challenge, and this means that a minor problem can snowball into something much more serious. If the legacy system is particularly obscure, first responders will not always be able to find a quick answer.
How Can I Improve Security and Efficiency?
Companies often have a complex patchwork of legacy systems that are embedded in the heart of their operations. If one part of the tangled system starts to cause problems, upgrading one legacy component is likely to introduce compatibility issues across the whole system. As such, the most logical strategic approach is to give everything a bespoke overhaul. In an ideal world, a team of expert analysts will examine the entire system and design a tailored pathway that will phase out problematic software and finely tune helpful software into a fast, streamlined, and safe unit.
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