For many organizations, the future development of their enterprise systems is at a crossroads. Should they continue to maintain legacy systems on premise or migrate to the cloud? And, if they are considering the cloud, what type of infrastructure will they need? Recent developments in cloud mainframe infrastructure have created a more attractive and robust environment for cloud enterprise deployments, but the decision-making process remains challenging.

Balancing the Argument

The arguments for maintaining infrastructure on premise seem convincing, but there are also limitations. Investment protection remains a strong case. The infrastructure and the operations staff are in place, and the system continues to deliver reliable, predictable performance. Proven security and access controls ensure that protection levels are high, the business remains compliant and management is in control.

However, the pace of digital transformation and the need to increase organizational agility highlight the weaknesses in a premise-based legacy system. Upgrading to the latest version of software can be very time-consuming, particularly when customization levels are high. In many cases, integration of systems like ERP with other applications means that IT has to maintain multiple versions of software.

Day-to-day infrastructure maintenance is also very time-consuming, while infrastructure upgrades require expensive investment. But, one of the biggest challenges is scaling the infrastructure at a pace that meets changing business demands for new services or greater agility to respond to external threats or opportunities.

As more line of business applications move to the cloud, user experience becomes an important factor. Users expect the same familiar, easy-to-use interface and ability to work anywhere on any device across all their applications. That’s something legacy systems may not be able to deliver.

Reviewing the Options

The decision to upgrade or migrate is not straightforward and, in many cases, it represents a balancing act of factors such as security and reliability against improvements in agility and user experience. To develop their strategy for enterprise systems, many organizations are working with migration and infrastructure experts like VTG who can provide impartial advice on the business and operational impact of the options available.

The simplest option may be to maintain the system on premise and continue to upgrade it in line with software updates and releases. Infrastructure automation tools can help reduce the management and maintenance burden.

Some organizations, particularly those with stringent compliance requirements are maintaining premise systems as part of a hybrid IT strategy, with line of business applications moving to the cloud. However, this can increase management complexity, while offering an inconsistent user experience across different applications.

An alternative is to utilize a hosted solution with the service provider taking responsibility for managing and maintaining the legacy system. Although that reduces the maintenance burden, the limitations of scalability, availability and user experience remain.

A cloud native solution may represent a major project, but it offers significant benefits. Users in any location can access a single version of the software on any device. By adopting a user interface similar to other cloud business applications, IT can deliver a consistent user experience across all applications. The solution is now scalable, providing greater agility and IT can operate a single, central security policy to maintain protection and compliance across the organization.

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