Behind the times: how the cloud can help you escape legacy systems

The past decade has seen digital transformation – the integration of data and technologies across every aspect of a business – move from an aspirational buzzword to a fundamental part of driving innovation and fostering growth. Businesses are constantly seeking new ways to enhance their operations, boost efficiency, and secure a competitive edge.

Nevertheless, many remain tethered to legacy systems – outdated infrastructure that hinders their ability to fully embrace the advantages offered by digital transformation. When it comes to storage, where data is kept, and from which modern technologies need to draw, that can undermine huge parts of your business.

The lingering grip of legacy storage systems

Legacy storage systems, often characterised by monolithic software and hardware configurations, were designed for an era of technology that has long passed. Inflexible, inefficient, and difficult to upgrade or modify, they pose a significant challenge to businesses seeking to adapt to the rapidly changing demands of the digital age.

For one, limited scalability is a constant frustration. Data’s value is rising year-on-year – but in the face of burgeoning data needs, legacy systems struggle to expand efficiently. This translates into performance lags, system outages, and missed business opportunities – stagnating innovation, limiting progress and putting you well behind your competitors.

This would be manageable if such systems could be upgraded to accommodate modern needs – but that’s not often the case.

Imagine you still own a car you bought two decades ago. It’s on its third clutch, doesn’t pass ULEZ regulations, and each MOT costs more and more to keep it going. No matter the modifications or upgrades, the vehicle still won’t fit the bill – there’s only so far it can take you.

Legacy systems are in a similar position today, especially with the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence. It’s harder and harder to keep them going, especially as more efficient options are being taken up by your competition. They might run, but they’ll never match up to the capabilities of the next generation.

This inability to modernise also impacts security – which, in today’s fast-moving threat landscape, is more important than ever. Even if a business can withstand the other costs associated with legacy systems, suffering a significant cyberattack has the potential to be crippling.

As legacy systems become outdated, the companies that developed them will gradually pull support, before eventually moving to ‘end-of-life’ status, with no further updates. That leaves the system that you rely on to keep your data safely stored increasingly exposed.

Classic frustrations

So, in the face of all these difficulties – why do so many businesses hang on to legacy technology?

The first answer is obvious: cost. If you have previously invested heavily in a certain technology, you want to maximise value from that investment. This leads many businesses holding on to technology for longer than is sensible. The cost of removing and replacing such a system, and the related disruption to everyday business is another common barrier to innovation.

Similarly, many organisations simply don’t have time. When handling vast amounts of data, constituting billions of documents and terabytes upon terabytes, we’re not talking about a filing cabinet that you can shuffle down the hall. Transitioning from one system to another demands a substantial investment of time – not to mention expertise.

The agility of a company is often handcuffed by legacy systems. Their rigid structures make it challenging to adapt swiftly to evolving market conditions or seize new opportunities as they arise. Lack of flexibility means missing out on critical competitive advantages or failing to meet customer demands promptly.

To the cloud

Migrating to the cloud stands to remedy many of the pain points associated with legacy systems. In stark contrast to the limitations of outdated systems, transitioning to the cloud translates into notable time and cost savings for companies.

As you’d expect, one of the most striking advantages is the immediate impact on the financial front. The shift to the cloud eradicates the hefty upfront capital investments and ongoing operational costs associated with maintaining on-premises infrastructure.

Once the cloud infrastructure is operational, expenses related to hardware, database maintenance, security, and software upgrades become part of operational expenses, offering predictability and manageable budgeting on a monthly or annual basis.

Furthermore, the scalability inherent in the cloud allows businesses to quickly and easily reduce or expand their storage, and processing capabilities, or introduce new software or solutions, as needed. This allows a business to avoid getting stuck in a contract that isn’t worth the fee, or over-purchasing on solutions that aren’t needed – as well as drastically reducing the cost of implementing new systems.

Beyond cost, cloud-enabled systems also accelerate business operations for employees right across the organisation, with cumbersome legacy systems no longer slowing people and processes down. Modern systems will invariably move faster than their legacy counterparts, with many able to automate the menial tasks that chip away at an employee’s day to day productivity.

Additionally, these systems facilitate flexible working arrangements as they’re accessible online from any secure network to those with permission, promoting a decentralised yet secure work environment. Cloud migration streamlines employee collaboration, fostering a seamless working environment.

These benefits all point towards one truth: you can’t hold on to your legacy systems forever. The cloud offers transformative benefits – and if you’re not taking advantage of them, your competitors are.

Now is the time to shed the past and embrace the cloud’s limitless potential – not just an upgrade, but a strategic leap toward innovation and competitiveness.

Tim Hood is VP EMEA & APAC at Hyland
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Tim Hood is VP EMEA & APAC at Hyland

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