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Legacy to SaaS Migration

July 22, 2013 by Mainak Biswas under Technology445 views
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The migration from Legacy, which is a term used to refer collectively to obsolete software and computer systems to SaaS (Software as a Service) is a mammoth task to accomplish because it calls for revamping on a big scale. In this article, this migration from Legacy to SaaS is dealt with methodically in subsequent paragraphs, but before having a peek into the migration let us introduce you to both the models. This is necessary as a thorough knowledge of both the models is required to understand and execute the whole process of migration.

The Legacy System

The legacy system is anything that can qualify as an old method used in technology, computer system or application program. This system is an old method or technology that is not in use and the very mention of it can raise issues plaguing it, such as it being not at par with the existing advancements in technology. This outdated technology can pose a lot of challenges that are of grave concern.

What are the handicaps faced by users of the Legacy System?

As the Legacy System is obsolete and still being used, there can be a lot of compromises the users have to live with. Here are a few of them you can take cognizance of:

1. Lack of trained staff to bank upon

2. Support and maintenance issues

3. Security and compatibility issues

Let’s look at a few of these issues that an organization using the Legacy System has to put up with, in more depth:

1. Lack of trained staff to bank upon

As the organization uses software and systems of a bygone era, it is obvious that the staff it had trained to be acquainted with these systems no longer render their services. The staff that are hired recently, being familiar with the new generation systems, can be at their wit’s end dealing with the less-familiar setup.

These problems faced by the new generation staff with the interface can mean there is a danger of inability in meeting the deadlines looming large over the organization. Moreover, the stranglehold of many of such risks on the organization generated by being over-dependent on the Legacy System can leave an irreparable dent on its reputation.

2. Support and maintenance issues

As many of the vendors of these systems may have phased out the manufacturing of these erstwhile products, they are in all likelihood less interested in providing support for these. This can mean that these organizations are left stranded in the middle of nowhere and have to run from pillar to post at the prospect of finding support for these obsolete systems.

Maintenance and overhauling of the systems can be absolutely challenging as the possibility of finding people with the necessary expertise is almost nil. Lack of software maintenance can mean that business opportunities are lost as there is less possibility of changing the software quickly and reliably.

3. Security and compatibility issues

Legacy systems are very vulnerable to hacking, viruses, malicious programs and other security threats as the versions currently used in these systems are very old. This rules out the possibility of fortifying them by way of security patches in that their vendor may have stopped supplying them with these or may have shifted base to other lucrative business ventures. This is the prevalent scenario in the organizations using Legacy systems.

When the going gets tough with the many newer systems vying for a place in the organization’s systems by advertising their slick operating systems, their integration with these can prove to be very troublesome. The bridge hardware and software are designed specifically for the technologies prevalent at their time and are out-of-bounds for these sluggish systems.

SaaS (Software as a Service) Model

SaaS or ‘on-demand software’ is supplied by Application Service Providers. It is a software delivery model wherein the software and all the associated data are centrally hosted on the cloud. The users supplied with SaaS can access it using a thin client via a web browser.

SaaS has established itself as a common delivery model in a host of business applications. Many of the leading enterprise software companies have incorporated SaaS into their strategy.

Benefits of migrating to SaaS

SaaS is suitable for a wide range of businesses ranging from the small ones to the considerably huge types. It is accepted with wide open arms by many businesses mainly because it has the potential to reduce IT support costs exponentially by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the SaaS provider. This being the main highlight of SaaS, there are other benefits too.

The main prerequisite to make the most out of SaaS is a reliable internet connection from a reputed service provider. After you have installed a good connection, you can reap many benefits from SaaS. Here are some of the benefits listed:

1. Affordability

2. Quick deployment

3. Painless upgradation with no compatibility issues

4. Work portability

Let’s delve a little deeper into each one of these benefits:

1. Affordability

SaaS subscription models operate on a monthly subscription basis and this covers a lot of services like upgrades, maintenance and customer support in its package. This is in stark contrast to the traditional software models in that the companies incorporating them in their businesses are not required to shell out extra money for these.

2. Quick deployment

The SaaS solutions are deployed over the internet and do not require any supporting software to be installed. This makes it easier for you as your new software can be used almost instantly after installation. Traditional software take weeks or even months to deploy.

3. Painless upgradation with no compatibility issues

As the SaaS provider manages all updates and upgrades necessary, there is no need for the customers to download and install security patches and the like. The user can also keep his mind free from all the hassles relating to the compatibility with respective software.

4. Work portability

Working is not restricted to the desktop alone but any device with an internet connection can do. This is good for people wanting to work from home or across multiple sites.

All these listed benefits make SaaS the most-sought-after model by businesses. With this being said, let us take a peek into possible migration processes.

Legacy to SaaS migration

There can be two possible methods to migrate, depending on the feasibility of incorporating them with respect to your business needs.

1. Building a cloud server from scratch

2. Migrating the applications or their components ‘as is’

Looking at each of the enumerated methods:

1. Building a cloud server from scratch

This method of migration is ideal for customers looking to update an application’s infrastructure or architecture as part of it. Such manual migration can allow custom applications to be re-architected and used in the cloud if necessary. This is very useful if the business intends to migrate an entire complex application to a public cloud.

The downside of this method is that it involves painful and tedious tasks such as re-engineering of any customizations that are in place. Moreover, an extended regression testing cycle or other impacts that could offset the benefits of the upgraded application infrastructure can negate the cost benefits of moving to the cloud.

2. Migrating the application or their components ‘as is’

As a part of this approach, the entire stack (OS, application and configuration) is captured and migrated to a new cloud server instance. This is the fastest and most cost effective approach as the down time and regression testing are minimized with the changes required for the application to function being low impact and often requiring only minor configuration changes.

Conclusion

These two methods are applicable based on their feasibility involved in incorporating them in the migration method. This can qualify to be a real mind bender if you fail to come up with your customized strategies or other novel methods to migrate from Legacy to SaaS. A bit of reader’s discretion is advised when arriving at the best possible way to migrate. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that you can migrate by sticking to a text book method. Be open to modifications and choose wisely.

If that does not work, it never hurts to hire professionals. Of course it costs money but it also reduces the amount of time and energy you need to invest in understanding things. This can be worth the effort.

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