How to Succeed at Decommissioning Legacy Systems

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Most IT facilities contain legacy systems comprised of applications and data that have been replaced by new technology or inherited after a merger or acquisition. Legacy systems are often kept on in order to reference historical data, but in order to meet compliance regulations, legacy systems must be maintained and supported to ensure the data stored on them is accessible. However, this process drains your IT budget and comes with a high Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). You might think that archiving this data to a device meant for data archiving is your best option, but that won’t help much when your company has a product recall and you’re left to gather all the data related to the product.

Decommissioning legacy systems can be complex and expensive, and as such it’s important to have a strategy in place that will simplify and speed up the process. Here are some steps to follow for successful decommissioning:


  1. Which legacy systems should be decommissioned?

First things first: identify which legacy systems should be kept operational and which should be decommissioned. When shortlisting candidates, examine the number of users and key business functions that will be affected, and be cognizant of current and future running costs. The state of the data in the system should also be taken into consideration should it be converted, archived or destroyed? The best candidates usually have valuable data that needs to be retained for a long time. They should also offer longer-term cost savings, and not be too complex to deal with.


  1. What are the costs and benefits of decommissioning?

Once you know which systems need decommissioning, you can analyse the costs and benefits of doing so. You can start by conducting a full audit of each candidate’s data structures and interfaces. Another approach to estimating the benefit of decommissioning is to list the activities that will become simpler once the system is removed. These can include reduced operational management costs and a reduced effort to implement new systems.


  1. Have you formulated a decommissioning strategy?

Now that you know which legacy systems need decommissioning and what the costs and benefits are, you can formulate a strategy. Determine the order in which systems will be decommissioned, what will happen to the data, and what changes need to be made to other appliances. You can map all technical details for each application and analyse their impact on business functions. After finalising your strategy, determine the overall costs and benefits of decommissioning and get stakeholders to sign the process off.


  1. Create a detailed overview of how you’re going to implement the decommissioning strategy

Make sure your plan has detailed instructions on all the steps of decommissioning. If you’re migrating or converting data, make sure you list instructions. On the technical side of your project, all business requirements should come with a test for implementation.


  1. Time to implement the decommissioning

Now that you have all your ducks in a row, how will you implement this process? You need to document the entire implementation process, including the code used to convert data and logs validating results. In order to meet compliance requirements, you should be able to outline how each stage was carried out. Once data has been archived or destroyed, the decommissioning process is basically done.

If you’d like to explore legacy system decommissioning in more detail and find out how Proceed can help, download our decommissioning white paper here.