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Legacy IT becoming a money drain for enterprises, reports show
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Enterprises by and large fell into two buckets when it came to how they’re network operations teams responded to the massive disruption posed by the pandemic.

Some organizations resisted new wide-scale cloud adoption, fearing that a big network transformation would be more disruptive than helpful with all the areas of the business being impacted at once by global events. Others, however, wisely understood that legacy IT systems and structures were simply not equipped to support a highly distributed enterprise workforce, calling for rapid acceleration of cloud migrations that, in many cases, were already underway.

Fortunately, most companies in the former group had no choice but to eventually face change, even if they did so reluctantly, and you can’t really blame them: Companies invested an estimated $26 trillion into operating and maintaining existing IT systems since 2010.

With that much money already sunk into existing systems, abandoning legacy, hardware-based networking technologies for cloud-based systems that afford operations teams very little inherent control over performance can feel like whiplash.

But enterprises need to shake the perception that a migration away from legacy IT represents poor investment or money misspent; rather, the times have taken on a Moore’s Law-level rate of accelerated change, calling for faster computing power (and less hardware) to drive business success than at any point in history.

Pre-pandemic, of the $35 trillion total that corporations and governments worldwide spent on IT products and services starting in 2010, only $2.5 trillion went to replace legacy IT systems, while $720 billion of that was “wasted” on failed replacements. But it’s safe to say that in many cases, a tech transformation that’s considered a failure (especially one that had significant initial investment) is often more a symptom of the project slipping in priority than all-out poor execution.

This was largely confirmed when businesses across industries surprised themselves with their ability to scale their cloud adoption in response to the pandemic, sending users to work from home with little prior protocol. Now that it’s been proven to once skeptical business leaders that teams can in fact successfully execute a truly transformative IT project in a short amount of time, the sky should be the limit in terms of what enterprises can empower their IT teams to do.

Cloud migration savings

For budget-conscious executives, for instance, a spreadsheet highlighting the past costs of powering corporate servers and data centers, establishing a traditional telecom infrastructure, and purchasing boatloads of commercial-grade, MPLS connectivity compared to the cloud or SaaS-based alternatives will be eye-opening. Depending on the scale, spread, and nature of the business, these savings could be as much as 45 percent post-migration.

But the real impact is on end-user experience and performance, as cloud solutions are not just more affordable to deploy and manage, but their decentralized nature matches the makeup of most enterprises in a post-pandemic world. Teams need to access resources from anytime and anywhere, and when they aren’t tethered to connectivity that’s centralized around a head office,” they become more agile in actually doing their work and leveraging their business toolkit.

So how can enterprise IT and network operations teams start (or hopefully continue) retiring legacy IT?

  1. Prioritize, starting with costly hardware—Choose which applications are ripe for retirement by first looking at your most costly tools, which are usually those that are hardware-based due to the associated maintenance costs. Have an idea of which maintenance contracts are about to expire and keep those costs in mind, as often it’s the associated support and maintenance of legacy systems that make them so expensive in the long run.
  2. Hold onto important data—Depending on the nature of the tools being retired, be sure to archive or at least selectively retain data through a reporting tool that can help you accurately understand performance pre-migration to ensure your cloud investments pay off.
  3. Maintain visibility throughout—Don’t lose sight of your end users throughout any migration away from legacy systems. Deploy vendor- and cloud-agnostic performance monitoring so that you’re tuned into what’s happening on old and new systems at every step of the transformation, and maintain that visibility post-migration to validate success.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: budget, hybrid cloud, multicloud, enterprise cloud, cloud migration, cloud computing, cloud adoption, cloud transformation, network transformation, digital transformation, enterprise networks, enterprise IT, IT budgets, visibility, network monitoring, network performance monitoring, network management

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