Data migration

Legacy Systems Modernization & Data Migrations

Ensuring that even as your digital ecosystem evolves, your business can perpetually leverage the data and information you've accumulated over the course of years

How do you take a legacy system and modernize it without disrupting your existing business?

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Odds are, your business is running on an outdated set of systems that manage your in-house operations. Your internal collaboration tools are used sparingly and your employees end up using their own forms of communication. There's no centralized document repository for you to manage workflows and revisions.

This scenario is all too common today – businesses across the world are moving rapidly just to barely keep up with trends in mobility, security, and cloud infrastructure.

Legacy System Migrations (Overhauls, Modernizations) tend to happen infrequently within businesses – but when they do occur, it's an expansive effort. At Icreon, we work with businesses that realize overhauling their existing technologies is just as much about educating their end users as it is about adding new features.

The Future of Legacy Systems Modernization

Legacy Systems Modernizations are one of the most time and capital-intensive tasks any business can undertake. To reduce the risk of failure and minimize long-term cost leakage, the future of legacy modernizations is being able to modularly swap in and swap out parts of a business system and its data without bringing everything else to a standing halt. The era of microservices allows for this, by allowing teams to use orchestration to flexibly replace business logics and processes incrementally

How to do a Legacy Modernization & Data Migration the Right Way

Too often, we see businesses that essentially replicate their legacy platforms into a more 'modernized' version of the same platforms. That is typically because there's not enough emphasis on truly understanding how the business process has morphed and evolved. This subsequently leads to predictably better functioning software, but doesn't lead to a predictably better functioning business. Oftentimes, the initial modernization strategy is the core catalyst for ensuring that multiple months of implementation, execution & system modernization are what yields C-Level success. When Icreon works on a legacy systems modernization, we emphasize the 3 P's: People, Processes, Platforms. How do these three activities interplay with each other & more importantly, how should they interplay with each other in the future?

This mindset lets our enterprise teams truly think about tangibly transforming the business through a modernization and migration effort. The relationship between these three can be tough to define, but it comes down to recognizing and being transparent as a business about strengths and weaknesses. For example - high turnover businesses need to be more process-regimented through their platforms, whereas low-attrition workforces need to worry more about developing niche workflows that cater to power users. Small and simple observations consistently such as these ensure that our modernization projects appropriately infuse a business' idiosyncrasies into the systems, technologies & platforms that enable them.

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thoughts

General practices and motifs we believe in when engineering legacy systems modernizations

Thoughts and Considerations

Future-proof

Leveraging the latest in microservices-architecture and cloud technologies to manage technology obsolescence

Reimagined

Approaching solving customer needs by rethinking foundational presumptions to spark innovation

Evolving

Developing platforms and customer experiences that are loosely coupled and can be matured continuously

Cognitive

Leveraging artificial intelligence to understand customer intent and goals faster

Modular

Creating experiences that can easily play-nice with other cloud- and legacy platforms

Adobe
AWS
Azure
Blue Prism
Camunda
Cloudflare
Drupal
Google Cloud
Jenkins
Mongo
Mulesoft
MySQL
Oracle
Pentaho
Python
Sitecore

Platforms and technologies integral to modernizing legacy systems and migrating data

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Different Approaches to Data Migration

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Major Considerations in Data Migration

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Modernizing Legacy Systems Doesn't Mean Re-inventing the Wheel

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Legacy Users: The Importance of Education in User Adoption

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Different Approaches to Data Migration

From certain points of view, data migration seems puzzling and difficult, but no one doubts its necessity. With the increasing pace of technological change in today’s business environment, all companies which operate on data will have to update their systems, applications, and platforms at some point to remain competitive. It's a natural situation which stems from the fact that not only technology systems are changing, so is business.

There are two different approaches to data migration. One is reflected by all-in-one migration, migrating data as fast as possible within a pre-determined system downtime. The other, much more sensible approach, is a systematic approach. The gradual migration allows for the data migration to be held in parallel with regular work of company employees and systems.

The different approaches:

The Systematic Migration

This approach seeks to migrate large amounts of data without completely shutting down a system, operating only within selected areas so that all others can be accessible during migration. Employees keep continuous access to data, there are no glaring interruptions, and no system downtime is required. While it is the longer migration of the two, you heavily increase your chance for final success.

Properly prepared data migration begins with the deep analysis of needs and requirements. While every situation will be unique, a gradual movement from one system to another combined with incorporation of new platforms will always increase the chances of success.

All-in-one Migration

This approach involves shutting all applications and databases down—temporarily interrupting work and putting all force into the data migration. While it makes for shorter time of actual migration, the risk involved typically doesn’t outweigh the reward. You have one chance to implement the new system, which poses a risk and could ultimately be a major setback for your business.

It's imperative to establish which approach best suits your business, employees, and complementary applications before any migration is carried out.

Major Considerations in Data Migration

Data storage is being scaled, upgraded, and replaced at an increasing rate. Businesses across the world are finding it increasingly necessary to move massive amounts of data between systems and networks to adapt to the explosive growth.

However, they are also finding it increasingly complex, expensive, and disruptive – and that the process requires much more time, resources, and expertise than expected.

As you look into migrating your existing systems and data, consider the following:

Complexity of the Migration

Many businesses today don’t realize how much planning, assessment, and labor is involved in migrating large volumes of data, or entire software systems.

The infrastructure of the new system has to be mapped out, deployed, and configured. All data from the legacy system must be properly carried over to the new system. You need to consider whether the migration can take place over an existing connection, or if a pathway across channels and IP needs to be engineered. If you’re working with third party vendors, all data security policies must be honored. The to-do list is massive.

Many IT managers don’t take these issues into account, and they may not even know the right questions to ask. They will move forward with system migrations before they are prepared, and don’t realize the implications of the architectural change until it is too late. Be sure to understand the entire process of a migration before you decide to implement a new system.

The Legacy Landscape

How deeply tied are your systems and the everyday activities of its users? While it will make business sense to migrate to a new, updated system - remember to include the users who actually use the systems on an everyday basis in the decision process. Knowing what systems and functions are imperative to business success in the current IT landscape will increase chances of the new system’s success.

Migration Roadmap

Should you migrate systems all at once, or in a gradual fashion?

There are two different approaches to data migration. One happens all-at-once, migrating data as fast as possible within a pre-determined system downtime. The other, much more sensible approach, is to migrate systematically. By carrying out the migration parallel to the work of company employees and systems, the amount of downtime is sharply reduced. Knowing the approach that will better fit your business and employees should be one of the first things considered.

Downtime

Data migration can be disruptive to users as well as complementary applications. In order to ensure the integrity of system data, it’s sometimes necessary for businesses to shut down some of their applications while data is synchronized.

Downtime often needs to be built into systems where data sharing is imperative, requiring users and applications to go offline—a process that could hamper business continuity strategies.

Modernizing Legacy Systems Doesn't Mean Re-inventing the Wheel

A recent survey revealed that 92 percent of Federal Government IT managers think that security breaches, performance issues, service disruptions and threats to mission-critical capabilities are inevitable if legacy applications aren’t modernized in a timely manner.

This urgent matter is not specific to Capitol Hill. In fact, it’s very likely that your company or organization—private or public, large or small—is facing a similar crisis with similar consequences.

Many existing core applications in businesses throughout the world are custom-built, comprised of millions of lines of programming code, and are designed to support high volumes of data-intensive processes—perhaps billions of transactions per day. They form the heart of a business, containing rules and data that make up the intellectual property necessary for performing vital day-to-day operations.

As these legacy applications age and stop working as seamlessly as they once did with existing systems, data processing slows, downtime increases, and users become frustrated when they get bogged down performing the simplest of tasks.

In today’s business world, there’s simply no tolerance for inefficiency. Users demand instant access to information. It is no longer acceptable, for example, to wait for the system to generate a business report. Employees are pulling relevant information and creating their own reports on an as-needed basis. Likewise, when a new process or application is required, IT must be able to move quickly to deliver solutions that will run on any device—and in the cloud.

To add even further insult to injury, the longer companies wait to bring their applications up to speed, the more money will go down the drain to support and maintain older computing infrastructure—as much as 60 to 80 percent of their IT budgets, according to some estimates. The percentage can be even higher for federal agencies and other public organizations.

One of the best ways to stop wasting money on older or outdated software and ensure that your business stays current and competitive is by modernizing the legacy apps in your data center. Legacy, in this respect, refers to any application that slows your business as a whole by not easily integrating with other mission critical applications or software.

And, while some of you might equate modernizing with wiping the code slate clean and starting from scratch, or replacing entire computer systems, that’s not the case. In fact, this practice—also known as “rip-and-replace”—is oftentimes a company’s last resort.

Case Study: Ford Modernizes

Back in 2004, Ford Motor Company looked to replace a collection of purchasing and procurement systems with a new web-based system. It looked good on paper, but proved to be a disaster once the new system was rolled out to end users. In the end, the project wasted the time of 350 IT staffers and cost the company as much as $400 million over five years. The company ultimately returned to its prior systems.

In hindsight, Ford would probably have had a much more positive and successful experience had it taken a different tactic for legacy modernization, which is all about application use and reuse, building on the strengths of the past, and combining them with present opportunities and future technologies.

When all that is said and done, previously clunky systems will run more efficiently and productively, while users will reap significant benefits in terms of ease-of-use, support, and the ability to access tools from any number of mobile devices.
Modernizing legacy applications can accomplish all of the above, which is why doing so has become a priority for many organizations and is expected to continue.

Research firm Gartner forecasts that worldwide spending on enterprise application software will grow 7.5 percent to $149.9 billion in 2015 and increase to more than $201 billion in 2019. The majority of funds “are going toward modernizing: functionally expanding or substituting long-standing business and office applications with cloud-based Software-as-a-Service.”

Efficient Ways to Modernize

 

Re-engineering

This technique rebuilds and enhances legacy applications by using new technology – usually by adoptingService Oriented Architecture (SOA). This is one of the most efficient and agile ways of transforming legacy applications. It works by gathering requirements from existing legacy applications and redeveloping them on newer platforms.

Replacement

If re-engineering or re-hosting aren’t options, then you might consider replacing legacy applications with commercial-off-the-shelf packages. This option focuses on building a portfolio with the best packages and components available from third-party vendors. However, reuse of existing legacy business intelligence is not possible with this approach. Some level of reengineering or customization of packages and rewriting may be involved in this process as well.

Migration to the Cloud

Moving legacy applications to the cloud is a great alternative for many organizations due to the flexible nature of the cloud and its potential to reduce operational costs. By using migration technology available today, legacy applications can be moved from data centers into multiple cloud environments (or vice versa). Public clouds become an elastic extension of the data center, allowing both legacy and new apps to run seamlessly under a data center’s control, wherever they happen to be deployed.

Some organizations need to modernize their legacy applications to web infrastructures that will enable them to compete and provide improved customer service. Other organizations need to integrate their legacy applications using web service technologies and SOA.

As technology grows more sophisticated and organizations grow more and more dependent on their core business systems, it will become even more crucial that their legacy applications remain adaptable and maintainable.

Legacy Users: The Importance of Education in User Adoption

One of the fundamental truths of IT is that eventually, every piece of technology gets old. Whether it applies to a legacy system as small as a CMS or as integral as an ERP, the need to upgrade is a fact of life for any business hoping to stay up-to-date.

Unfortunately for many businesses, the process of moving on isn't so simple.

As Americans living in the 21st century, we spend most of our time within a five-foot distance of our mobile devices, checking Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn like we're attached at the hip. Because we're constantly interacting with our technology, it's natural for us to develop a connection to it. If we're used to driving stick, it can be jarring to transition to an automatic car, even if it should technically be easier.

The same phenomenon occurs in business technology: Just as people grow attached to their phones and their old cars, business software users can become attached to their old workflows.

This kind of behavior is compounded in the business setting, where many users have already dedicated years to learning the ins-and-outs of their current software. The act of migrating can be tough on team members, and it's important to remember that while some will be quick to catch on, even more will find difficulty in making the transition.

We call these employees "Legacy Users," and while they've been known to cause difficulties for many businesses, it's important to note this is no real fault of their own: A system migration from Act! to Microsoft Dynamics could make anyone's head spin, no matter how tech-savvy the user.

The issue of Legacy Users does not occur in a vacuum—it's merely a symptom of inadequate training and education during the software rollout stages. With this in mind, it's important for businesses to develop a system or data migration plan that will provide the value and knowledge that Legacy Users need as they make the next big migration.

Without proper training and education in place, Legacy Users are the least of a business' problems. Just this April, three men were prosecuted in a scandal involving CityTime, a large-scale NYC project that was supposed to improve the city's payroll system. After spending 700 million dollars implementing the software, the city discovered that some of their project managers had been pocketing millions of dollars for themselves. With only a few employees in charge of the entire data migration process, it was easy for those at the top to keep their users in the dark about the scheming and fraud that took place over years of corruption.

If there were more than just a few people with extensive knowledge of the CityTime software, the scandal would likely have been much more difficult to pull off. The debacle highlights not only the value of transparency in the IT world, but also the importance of user adoption and education in system migration.

It’s important to understand the legacy user, exploring the ways that businesses work with them to ease the data migration process.

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