Complacency set in. You’ve been joined at the hip for years and have a dependency. But you’ve ignored them. Forgotten them. Now, you hardly know them. There’s a gap, a knowledge gap. It’s time to re-establish a relationship and fall in love all over again.

The Legacy App knowledge gap

Previously we’ve covered how the great recession of 2008 drove a trend in IT outsourcing, especially offshoring. The outsourcing trend, coupled with high turnover and retirement of app developers, created a critical problem in organizations: a legacy app knowledge gap.

Perhaps you’ve never thought of it, but legacy apps represent more than a difficult IT problem. Legacy apps encapsulate an important store of business and process knowledge. Often, mission-critical business knowledge is captured and systematized in legacy apps. They are highly valuable organizational assets. As valuable as other knowledge assets, such as history, culture, business practices, methodologies, corporate data and records, and more.

IT can’t afford to lose or ignore a decade or more of business knowledge captured in legacy apps – especially if the plan is to modernize and redevelop aging applications from the ground up. The first step in understanding requirements and building a new application is understanding all the functionality of the old app. Embedded app knowledge needs to be re-discovered to fully scope requirements, app state, and infrastructure needs. The legacy apps provide a baseline system to test new functionality.

Companies have invested time and treasure in critical legacy apps. It’s unwise to let app knowledge just fade gently into the good night. What to do? Is it possible to use automation to rediscover app knowledge that slipped away when original app developers retired or moved on? Is it possible to extract more useful life out of legacy apps?

How do you rediscover missing app knowledge?

At VirtaMove, we believe that automation can help you recover and rediscover knowledge from legacy apps and extend their useful life. In an age of rapid software obsolescence, there’s a new way to make software last longer. Automation can help you relearn what’s been lost, and in the process buy time for future app redevelopment and modernization.

Using Migration Intelligence AI tools, we’ve successfully moved thousands of Windows 2000, WS2003, and WS2008 apps to new virtual machines and servers running WS2012, WS2016 and WS2019. We’re focused on how to help customers relearn legacy apps and fall in love all over again.

Why move legacy apps to new servers?

Everyone wants to move legacy apps to modern, high performing servers running supported, secure operating systems. The benefits are clear:

  • A new operating system closes known security exposures on WS2000, WS2003 and WS2008. A move to a new OS also addresses compliance issues related to running on an unsupported OS.
  • Moving apps to a new server helps your team relearn and retest the app.
  • Running on new hardware improves system performance and lets users do more work.
  • Stack components such as IIS and SQL Server can be upgraded during the move of legacy systems to a newer operating system.
  • Moving legacy apps to a modern OS opens a path to the cloud, where apps can be managed with modern cloud management tools and easily scaled to meet demand.
  • Once moved to a supported OS, the life cycle of legacy apps can be extended and normal enhancement cycles can occur to address new requirements, such as GDPR, multi-tenancy, or Azure SQL.

Legacy applications on new servers: the best first modernization move

There are many business advantages in fully redeveloping an app. However, the first step in modernization is understand all the functionality of the current legacy app. You can’t afford to miss important requirements that legacy apps already fulfill. Legacy apps and newly developed apps also need to run in parallel for at least some time.

Budget constraints mean that getting a sign-off on complete app redevelopment isn’t easy. The business case for redevelopment needs to be strong. CFOs know that the biggest ROI comes from not investing in risky projects with uncertain pay offs. You get a great ROI from not investing money, not retraining staff, and not disrupting your business with a big app redevelopment project.

Be smart, buy time

Full app redevelopment often come with delays, so it’s wise to have a backup plan. Redevelopment requires a major investment, lots of user involvement, and sign off. It takes time to build apps, test them, ensure that all requirements are met, educate users on new systems, run old and new systems in parallel, and finally cut over and roll out apps. Redevelopment is risky and time consuming.

Delays aren’t the only risks. Business requirements can be missed or change, scope can creep. There’s a learning curve that comes with new systems. Redevelopment efforts can be plagued by technical problems, staff turn over, and a host of other project issues. Old and new applications need to run in parallel. Often, legacy apps stay up for months to ensure a smooth cut over, minimal disruption, and to confirm that business needs have been met.

During redevelopment, you still need to run your legacy apps. Moving old applications to new, faster, secure servers buys you time. It lets you plan and complete redevelopment properly.

Get to know your legacy again

There are many advantages to not letting legacy apps just fade away. You can make the best first step in modernizing by moving them to new servers. Moving them helps you rediscover critical app knowledge.

When you move legacy apps to a modern, supported server, nothing really changes from an app life cycle perspective. Moving is essentially a re-install on a new OS. You get to extend the life of the apps. The upgrade cycle and maintenance process remain the same. App upgrades can be planned, developed, managed, and installed as usual. Development, test, and production instances are managed normally. App improvements can be implemented over time as needed. Full redevelopment and a rebuild can always happen in the future, as the business needs it. You’re not forced into app redevelopment simply because you want to run on modern servers.

If you’d like to learn more about how moving legacy apps lets you regain app knowledge, and how it helps buy time to properly plan for redevelopment, give us a call, register for a free demo, or send us an e-mail. We’re always pleased to show you what we can do.