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​Locked in by legacy? How to move key applications to the Cloud

“Companies that still have legacy applications need to look at the risks and benefits of moving to the cloud."

Many organisations still rely on legacy systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM), in their business.

With a growing trend towards cloud-based service and applications, these companies must review whether to transition their legacy applications.

“Companies that still have legacy applications need to look at the risks and benefits of moving to the cloud,” says Darren Christopherson, General Manager of Operations, Empired.

“They should plan their future IT state carefully, taking into account the business strategy, and immediate and future needs.”

Christopherson has identified seven key considerations for companies looking to move legacy applications to the cloud:

1. Business drivers

Before deciding to move a legacy application into the cloud, Christopherson believes it’s important to understand the business drivers of doing so.

“If it’s about price, then the organisation should carefully investigate the real costs of moving to cloud versus staying on-premise: in some cases it may be cheaper to remain on-premise,” he says.

“If the purpose of transitioning is a strategic plan to move away from physical infrastructure or provide better access to applications from multiple locations, then it’s important to understand the technical capabilities, challenges, and limitations of the cloud provider.”

2. Infrastructure availability

Some legacy applications rely on specific platforms and infrastructures, Christopherson adds.

“If those aren’t available in the cloud then it will be impossible to transition the application effectively,” he says.

“Older ERP systems rely on database versions, clustered solutions, or network speeds. Once the ERP solution is in the cloud, the business may no longer have control, making it problematic.”

3. The pricing model

Christopherson adds that the pricing model for the cloud may not align with how the application works.

For example, if the application is constantly uploading from a data centre, this can create extra costs and/or the need for extra computing, making the transition potentially more expensive than not transitioning.”

4. Policy requirements

Some legacy applications require authentication from inside the infrastructure. But as Christopherson explains, cloud may not meet these policies.

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5. Performance issues

Sometimes introducing applications into the cloud can reveal latency issues that weren’t a problem in on-premise systems, making the application difficult to work with.

Additionally, Christopherson says if the cloud-based legacy application is integrated with on-premise infrastructure, this may create potential for failure.

6. The need to create a clear roadmap

Moving legacy applications to the cloud can be complex and businesses need a clear roadmap to ensure they don’t get lost.

“They need to de-couple systems and build a bridge into the cloud deployment platform, move workloads onto the cloud, and consider whether moving middleware will break existing integrations and dependencies,” Christopherson adds.

7. Security

The cloud is not necessarily less secure than on-premise solutions but it does require a slightly different approach due to the different threats.

“If you’ve never moved legacy applications into the cloud before then you’ll probably come across things you didn’t expect,” Christopherson adds.

“It’s important to move to production early and as often as possible so you don’t get to the end of the process and find a major roadblock.

“Don’t forget that it is possible and sometimes highly recommended to move the function of the legacy application to a new, cloud-based application, removing the legacy application from your architecture altogether.”

For Christopherson, legacy applications can’t stay around forever.

“By maintaining them you are introducing risk into the organisation, so you will need to address them at some point,” he adds.

“Moving into the cloud can reduce the risks from hardware failure, security, and authentication, potentially making the legacy application more useful.

“It can also be the first step in transitioning from the legacy application to a new solution for the future.”