The following is an excerpt from a live broadcast on DM Radio, http://www.information-management.com/dmradio/-10019266-1.html
As an Advisory and IT Services Provider, we see companies grapple with the pros and cons of extending the life of their legacy applications on a frequent basis. At different times and for different reasons companies typically come to a decision to pursue one of the following strategies,
- Classic Data Warehousing – build a warehouse and move data in a batch process to create an integrated view of data across the enterprise allowing for enterprise-wide reporting and development of sophisticated performance analytic models.
- Packaged Analytics – the classic custom-built warehouse is giving way to pre-built or out-of-the-box warehouses and pre-packaged analytic models which offer companies a shorter time to implement at a reduced cost and also allow companies to take advantage of “best practice” analytics across well-known industry areas.
- Distributed Enterprise Reporting – Customers develop an Enterprise reporting layer on top of existing applications, typically through direct access to the legacy databases via a tool that can access and present a unified view of data across the enterprise. A new spin on the data warehousing scenario with two significant benefits - alleviates the need for development of potentially expensive ETL programs and also provides the ability for real-time data access effectively blurring the lines between operational and analytical reporting.
- Data Integration – Many companies are extending legacy application via batch or real-time integration to allow for end-to-end business flows which can cross application silos (i.e. new employee in HR automatically triggers provisioning to corporate portal or automatic tie form marketing campaign to CRM for opportunity management).
- Web Services – Technology is now enabling a much wider degree of integration with legacy applications within the enterprise but also with external trading partners.
- Virtualization – Companies are making better use of their investment in hardware through virtualization which now allows for clustering a pool of servers to get much better overall utilization and also provide a significant degree of fault tolerance on older hardware platforms.
- Outsourcing / Cloud Computing – Yes, there is even a cloud play for a discussion on legacy applications as companies look to move these applications to an outsourced model – leveraging infrastructure as a service or potentially even finding a provider who can take over the full application management service.
- Hybrid approach – upgrade or replace a subset of the legacy application footprint (perhaps implement a SAAS application for HR or CRM). This may require some degree of integration with the legacy application(s) as well.
Of course, at some point it may become advantageous to take that final step and upgrade or replace their legacy applications leveraging a more contemporary application architecture.