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Friday, 14 October 2005 10:00

Australian orgs must keep legacy systems


Australia's major corporations must face up to the reality that many of their legacy systems will be with them for some time yet, according to the boss of one of the organisations plugging the ideology of building new windows to old data.

Michael Hawkins, general manager business development Asia Pacific at Software AG, claims that the business case of maintaining legacy systems rather than replacing them with new software systems is compelling.

'Substantial business value can be gained from simply modernising and extending these systems, and may eliminate the need to spend millions of dollars replacing them,' he said yesterday at a seminar in Sydney.

'All large organisations have important applications that have been with them for a number of years that fall into the legacy system category. Maintaining them and updating them is one of the biggest challenges for IT departments.

'One reason is that legacy systems are still the lifeblood of most organisations. It has been estimated that 70% of the world's data resides on mainframes, often representing years of intellectual capital, millions of dollars in investment and in many cases, competitive advantage. However, they are potentially a limitation to business agility.

'While some may choose to 'rip and replace' legacy systems, 'preserving and extending' them is arguably a faster, more cost-effective, less risky approach that CIOs ought to consider when thinking about the role of legacy systems in the continued growth of their businesses,' said Hawkins.

'There are several ways in which organisations can obtain greater business value from their legacy applications. For example, data can be extracted directly from legacy databases for use by business intelligence tools or other applications.

'Or, user interfaces to legacy systems can be web enabled, replacing 'green screens' with simple to use browser-based access that greatly improves user productivity, for example in call centre operations.

'Finally, legacy applications can be web-service enabled and extended into modern service-oriented architectures.

'The tools are available to modernise almost any legacy application running on any development platform, and in some cases like web enablement, results can be seen in a matter of days or weeks. Legacy modernisation does not have to be a difficult task, and organisations don't have to be limited by their legacy systems.'

We guess Hawkins could have added that if Y2K didn't succeed in ridding the world of mainframes, nothing will.

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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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