The list of legacy system migration challenges for enterprises is extensive, as migrations can be a complex and challenging process, with many potential roadblocks and pitfalls along the way. For enterprises, these problems are exacerbated by the sheer size of the organization.
Let’s explore some of the legacy system migration challenges enterprises face today.
When it comes to legacy system migration challenges, complexity is one of the biggest. These massive organizations could have systems that have been running since the introduction of computing into the business world. A prime example of complex systems running far past their life expectancy can be found all over one of the largest enterprises in the world, the United States Government.
According to a report from the United States Government Accountability Office in 2019, there is a huge need for system migrations in many of our government’s departments including but not limited to the Department of Defense, Education, Homeland Security, Transportation, and Health and Human Services.
These system’s ages range anywhere from 14 to 50 years, and all are in critical states of operation. So with so many government agencies desperately in need of new systems, why hasn’t it happened yet?
Migrating these systems is no small undertaking, as any data slipping through the cracks could mean individual people falling out of the system. And with 330 million people to account for, the complexity of the systems maintaining this data is staggering.
Decades of custom code and integrations have been implemented into these systems, complicating the move even more. It will take a massive effort to update these systems, and serious and thorough testing and validation to make sure these systems won’t crash in specific sets of circumstances.
Another common addition to the list of legacy system migration challenges is being hindered by compatibility issues with the new platform. Many times in order to extend the shelf life of a legacy system, enterprises may develop custom integration solutions to solve challenges they are facing with their current system.
This becomes a problem when your system becomes a frankenstein of custom integrations necessary to keep an aging software alive. Once the decision to migrate has been made, the organization will have to categorize all the custom elements of a system and see which, if any, are compatible with the new system being implemented.
If a system critical integration is not compatible with the system being migrated to, then finding a workable solution is critical before any data migration can occur.
It’s almost impossible to avoid at least some disruption when migrating a large portion of your technology infrastructure to another platform, but that disruption prevents companies from following through with a migration when it’s most effective, before the point of critical mass is reached.
Some downtime is to be expected when migrating systems, but if a legacy system is still new enough that no edits to code need to take place, an enterprise can take advantage of the replatforming approach.
Replatforming is one of the simpler possibilities for migrating software. Also known as “lift-and-shift”, replatforming is exactly what it sounds like. Taking a system and moving it to a more modern platform. This requires very little code adjustment, and can be done quickly without much disruption.
Depending on the system, replatforming is not always an option. So it’s important to consider the best approaches on how to limit downtime and disruption when migrating systems, and have a plan for when unexpected downtime occurs.
Ensuring that all data maintains its integrity is critical to the success of a legacy migration. During data transfers it is not uncommon for data to become corrupted or lost during the process. A way around this is to have backup and recovery strategies to implement in the circumstance that this occurs. This may include making sure all your data is ACID compliant or that disaster recovery is implemented into the migration.
Perhaps the most straightforward of the legacy system migration challenges list is not having the resources needed to conduct a legacy migration. It can be quite costly to move a large system to another platform, particularly because of the amount of time it can take to migrate a system and the need for experts to be brought on to the project. Many organizations are nervous to take on this cost on top of the potential downtime the project may bring to their externally facing systems.
When introducing a new system to a team, there is likely to be a period of employee education before the system is being utilized to its full capability. Employees have to learn the process of utilizing this new system and the differences between their previous workflows and the new ones. This is not to say that an enterprise team is not capable of picking the skills to adapt to the new system, but if proper training isn’t part of the overall integration process some team members may try to circumvent the system entirely to avoid learning the new process. Circumvention of the system is the exact opposite of the desired results of updating a legacy system, so it’s important to provide resources to your team that alleviate their confusions.
All these legacy system migration challenges may appear overwhelming, but with careful planning and attention to detail, it’s certainly possible to successfully migrate to a new system without damaging your current one. By understanding the challenges and developing strategies to overcome them, organizations can modernize their technology systems and improve efficiency, security, and flexibility.
It can’t be expected for an organization to have the internal experts who know how to navigate all these legacy system migration challenges, but by partnering with the right people this extensive list of challenges can be addressed succinctly and effectively.
Hiring individuals with development experience isn’t enough. Companies should utilize business analysts in tandem with their software engineers to have a better understanding of how a migration process may affect your organization and the best ways to mitigate any negative impact.
Better yet, having a team with technology consultants creates three layers of protection during the migration process, each of which having a different perspective. You want to bring on a team that takes a holistic approach to your migration instead of one with a narrow focus on the individual task.
DOOR3 provides our clients with dedicated teams of analysts, consultants, developers, engineers, and more to make sure that all of your needs are considered and met. We invest in a significant technical discovery process to guarantee we have a full understanding of your needs as a business.
Looking to start the migration process? Set up a call with us here.
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