There comes a time when everyone has an ugly baby within their Information Technology environment. There’s always that one application or that one platform that everyone hates, but it just happens to house a mission critical application. This is the application that has been cost reduced to little or no support staff; you might not have the source code anymore, it might have hard coded IP addresses or 3rd party software from a vendor that is no longer in business. All of these scenarios exist in some form or fashion in just about every information technology environment that has been in existence for at least 10 years. So what are your options with these types of platforms?
- Do Nothing. I heard once that the term ‘legacy’ within the IT realm is actually a secret code for ‘the stuff that actually works.’ This may be the case for you as well. The environment may be old, but it also may be ultra-reliable. So if the platform is stable, now may not be the best time to poke the bear on that application.
- Embark on the re-platforming journey. If you listen to the industry, everyone is on the move to the public cloud. Having an application run on the cloud as opposed to the application being built for the cloud are very different things. I would caution anyone that might want to do an ‘as is’ port of the application to a public cloud provider. Remember the old saying, “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.” Pick the most appropriate platform for the business function. That could be public cloud, it could be your private cloud, it could be traditional physical servers, it could be purpose built appliances, or it could even be the mainframe. Don’t limit your options by assuming everything must land on public cloud.
- Technology Refresh. It may be possible that the application just needs a good “fluff and stuff” to get it by until the application gets higher on the priority list. Doing a technology refresh in some cases may be your only option. I will say that it does feel strange doing a technology refresh on infrastructure and replacing it with used infrastructure because the vendor in question stopped making that gear some number of years ago.
- Start Over. A lot of organizations are bypassing the re-platforming thought process and going to the root of the business problem that the application solves. Then they’re taking a look at the industry for existing software or PaaS offerings that may do the very function in question. This could be a quick and easy way to get to the desired platform without having to go on the archaeological expedition through lines of source code written by firms or developers that are no longer around to ask the “why did you do that” questions.
There are always options to explore in order to “put some makeup on the baby” or to “put some lipstick on the pig.” The one thing to point out here is that you aren’t alone. Just about every organization has these proverbial “warts” in their environments. They aren’t something to be ashamed of. More times than not, there were very sound business justifications that caused decisions to be made. Information Technology environments are always an evolution and business risk prevents them from being a revolution. So take a minute to go give the clunker a hug. Go dust off the old dilapidated application in the corner, because remember: more times than not, those are the platforms that are helping to keep your business alive and thriving.