The ongoing global pandemic has not only irrevocably changed the way businesses operate but has also forced many organisations to re-evaluate and reorganise their IT readiness for doing business in a post-lockdown world.
The current crisis has accelerated digital transformation for businesses across the globe, and while the initial priority for many CIOs at the start of the nationwide lockdown was to drive digital workforce collaboration and mobile device management, more spending will now be focused on digital transformation initiatives.
Specifically, many CIOs are now increasingly starting to prioritise a shift to public cloud services, as they realise that cloud migration can bring about the convenience and affordability that organisations need to manage their IT infrastructure and the computing needs of their employees.
However, while a move to the cloud should theoretically be easy, the reality is that there are a lot of challenges associated with migrating data. Most enterprises are complex and have multiple legacy systems that cannot or should not be moved to the cloud, yet the data that is stored in these systems needs to remain accessible, in line with operational or audit requirements.
Thus, for many organisations, such legacy systems are becoming a major headache and are purely kept alive for the data that resides in them. While they will no longer be part of the organisation’s future estate, they are still very much connected to their operations and cannot simply be unplugged and switched off. Similarly, from a regulatory or risk perspective, many systems are often maintained solely to provide infrequent or sporadic access to data within a legacy database.
The question then becomes what should be done with this old data. Do you migrate it to the cloud? Or do you try and keep the legacy systems running in parallel to your current applications?
Up until now, the solution for many companies has been to move their legacy data to cheap storage in the cloud and hope it can be accessed quickly if and when needed in a few years’ time. The major pitfall here is that if database licences are not kept up to date, this data might not be accessible, which could expose the organisation to a variety of legal and regulatory risks. At the same time, maintaining legacy systems in parallel can be costly and cumbersome.
Hence, the typical challenge faced by CIOs when looking at a cloud migration strategy is how to shut down redundant or obsolete business applications, while retaining meaningful access to historical data or corporate memory.
The solution lies in true historisation. This Involves migrating all relevant data from a legacy application to a cloud-based system, a read-only platform, where the original business logic is mimicked to provide familiar navigation for reporting or data extraction.
With the help of modern technology platforms, companies can make use of a secure end-to-end service that is tailored to the complex requirements of large and evolved system landscapes. If carried out correctly, historisation will allow all software, hardware and associated resources required to manage the original application to be fully decommissioned.
An organisation’s legacy data is then available on a 24/7 basis in the cloud, and access to this now unchangeable data is as intuitive and fast as usual. Authorised users can visualise the data according to various criteria or create evaluations and reports, and when required, the same data can be extracted for analysis. This is especially crucial in an era of data analytics, which gives organisations the ability to make faster, more informed business decisions, by leveraging current and historical data.
True historisation can deliver 60-80%-plus cost savings, freeing up budget for more important digitisation projects. This is now more crucial than ever, as we are entering a period when the focus of many enterprises are shifting to cost efficiency, consolidation of IT estates and an acceleration to digital environments.
Additionally, the mid-term consequence of the pandemic is expected to be an increase in merger and acquisition activity, as financially struggling companies will become takeover targets. All of this will create more and more legacy, and not everything will make the jump to the cloud. Historisation is the key to successfully managing legacy systems and data in an era of digital transformation.
By Ludwig Dedekind, New Business Sales Executive at T-systems South Africa