04 May Servers: do we need them anymore?
Do you have applications that are essential to the way you and your team work but have become outdated? Has the pandemic opened your eyes to the potential of having an entirely remote working team? Have you questioned whether you still need your staff work together at the same address? Have you questioned whether you still need your staff to work together at the same address? If so, you are not alone! Many business owners are concerned that their team are using dated applications. They have also realised they no longer need an office at all. The possible benefits could be massive! However, a change in our working environment means a change from an IT infrastructure perspective too! However, a change in our working environment means a change from an IT infrastructure perspective too.
In the following blog we will explore what legacy applications are, how they are holding back your business, and how removing physical assets altogether and converting to a Cloud based infrastructure can thrust you into the future with IT as a powerful, cost-effective, and flexible ally.
In computing, the term ‘legacy’ is commonly used in reference to old technology, an old application, computer system, or any other older method that, most importantly, is still in use and serves purpose.
Legacy Applications – What they are and examples
Legacy apps are no longer supported by the manufacturer. Some examples of legacy applications include ‘Access Documents’, ‘Excel’, and any Windows Application below Windows 7. A key feature – and main ingredient to the attitude of change needed toward them – is that legacy apps don’t connect to the Cloud. This creates a difficult work environment entirely unnecessarily – the alternatives are many in the modern digital world – so there is no need to make your work day more difficult than it already is.
‘Get rid of them then and move to the updated versions’, some would say. And if you can see no reason as to why you haven’t moved to the updated version, then you must do it! But, for some, this simply isn’t an option as their legacy applications are critical in completing their day-to-day tasks. This can be hard to understand – especially for those that are tech confident and look forward to upgrades coming for their favourite applications – but there are a variety of different reasons as to why this is the case. The business manager may not have a dedicated IT specialist that will reinforce the benefits of updating, it could be familiarity and the fear of the unknown that has made them decide to not upgrade, or the risk of potential problems with operations due to the change may be too great to take on the perceived unnecessary change.
Why are legacy applications holding your business back?
As we already explored, some businesses need legacy apps – but, for the majority and as a general rule, you should always update your applications at the very first opportunity.
There are many reasons why moving from legacy apps to updated and modern alternatives would be practically and financially more viable than continuing to use their predecessors. Arguably, one of the most obvious is cost – as apps age their efficiency decreases, age support charges are gradually increased and at the same time knowledge of the older apps becomes harder to come by.
Another big reason is the unique methodology that legacy apps often have, as their own programming language and management tools are used, which can rapidly die out due to retirements and specialists going elsewhere. Newer applications usually use generic programming language that is often relevant across platforms, not only allowing team members with knowledge of one platform to use another with relative ease but also enabling that knowledge to be handed down and widely known across the organisation.
Legacy apps are holding you back from the future. Advancements in technology and business processes over recent years have been seriously impressive. Choosing to stay with your legacy apps are stopping you from reaping the benefits of modern practice and leaving you using involute processes.
Again, as we touched on earlier, many businesses still rely on that one ‘relic’ of the company that has been there for years and is the only source of information regarding the legacy application due to everyone else moving on or retiring. Having one port of call for anything in an organisation isn’t ideal, but having one option when needing help with an application that is potentially integral to achieving a productive work day is just poor management. What if the expert is ill? What if he simply wants a day off? Or, worst-case scenario, what if he leaves the business unexpectedly? This is not a good way to run a business and needs to be remedied immediately. See this as an opportunity, and use this chance – as is the case with the expertise – to slowly irradicate the application from the company and allow your team to be on relatively level ground when it comes to knowledge of the applications they are using.
Legacy applications often pose security issues to your organisation as well. They will not be supported by the vendor – and therefore not benefit from any updates the vendor releases – this makes them not only inefficient and unstable but, most worryingly, dangerously insecure. These insecurities can leave your system open to Malware viruses and a variety of cyber threats that have the power to cause irreparable damage to your systems.
We must all follow regulations in the way we run our businesses, legacy applications can lead you to fall short of these regulations – GDPR in particular – if you are knowingly using unsupported software. Legal ramifications could follow. The law states that software containing sensitive information must be on a system that is updated to its latest version and therefore supported by the provider.
So, what are the options?
There are ways of transforming your working environment and take it into the modern digital age. As we said at the very beginning of the blog, the world of work is changing so it’s now time – if you are still using legacy applications or onsite servers – that you do the same.
It is time to completely irradicate expensive, hard to maintain, clunky physical assets from your system. This can easily be done by running them in the Cloud instead.
Most that haven’t made the change yet are of the same opinion – ‘I don’t want to pay a monthly fee’ or ‘I am happy with what I have’. That is completely understandable, but what if I told you that you don’t have to pay monthly? It will be yours to do with as you wish, and, for alternative legacy applications that are industry-specific pieces of software, modern infrastructure hosting makes it possible to use them securely too.
Undergo a digital transformation to Cloud computing
As we have explored previously, many business owners need to hold onto their legacy applications as they are integral to work functions but they are tired of the clunky, space consuming servers they reside within. Those servers require maintenance, cooling, and monitoring – all of which are an inconvenience, are expensive, and time consuming.
We have also explored the want for some businesses to adopt a completely remote work team. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic many have realised its potential benefits and want to get ahead of some of the competition by adopting permanent measures to ensure the survival – and success – of their business long into the future with remote working as the catalyst for making it possible. For some the desire to transition to the Cloud is due to their IT assets nearing end-of-life or perhaps even surpassing it. The Cloud can remedy all of these issues – and with minimal distress to your business.
Let’s explore what ‘end of life IT assets’ actually means.
IT assets nearly at end-of-life or already dead?
There are multiple problems that can arise from end of – or nearing end of – life IT, which can be financial, legal, or reputational. It can severely damage the levels of performance possible by your team, as using old hardware or software to attempt to complete their daily tasks to a good standard can be impossible to achieve. They are most likely missing out on a potentially productivity-boosting tool / improvement that is available in the updated version. Another particularly damaging trait of end-of-life IT assets is the severe lack of reliability that often comes with them – it can be a lottery as to whether they will function as commanded, or at all, whilst, in some cases, also not being compatible with other programmes being used. All this makes the duties of some team members far more difficult and time consuming than they need to be.
End-of-life assets can also make remote working an impossibility. The provider will often stop backing up a piece of software once its newer counterpart takes the limelight to concentrate all their attention on the new version. This leaves the old predecessor dragging its feet, not as productive as it once was, and now not as secure either. The provider does this deliberately, they allow you to watch the old one die and cause problems in order to force your hand into using the newer version instead.
But, by far the most important issue with end-of-life assets are the compliance issues and potential legal ramifications of running them. Knowingly using dated software that is not as secure as possible is in direct breach of GDPR, and being caught doing so could be the end of your business altogether.
The business benefits of making the change
Remote working made possible
Remote working is only possible with the use of Cloud-based computing. The Cloud is what has made remote working possible for so many up and down the country in the wake of – and before – the pandemic struck. With its ability to allow you to access company files and shared collaborative documents, and its ability to not only mirror but enhance your team’s levels of collaboration, communication, and productivity in comparison to the office setting, remote working is on the rise and showing no signs of slowing.
The Cloud has enabled your team to call anywhere ‘the office’ whether it be a plane, train, the living room, or a park bench, because as long as they have an internet connection they can continue working as normal.
With the Cloud, you partially hand over the security of your data into the hands of the vendor. It is a common misconception that your data is less secure when in the Cloud – the vendor is managing the data of thousands of others and often situates their servers in secure well-guarded data centres that rival banks in the security they offer. On a technical level they are also very secure – as we just mentioned, the vendor is protecting thousands of firms’ data at the same time and need to be up-to-date with security threats and solutions, most probably far more so than either yourself or the IT team you had on premise is capable of doing.
If you are serious about growing your business into a thriving modern-day organisation there is no logic in having a ‘that’ll do’ approach toward your IT because you will simply make things harder for yourself. Making a transition to the Cloud will allow you to continue driving the business forward in an efficient and secure way. It will also give you the means to make a change to remote working and reap all the benefits that come with it.
What is the solution?
Implement a Cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure utilising Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft Azure – Why?
Microsoft Azure as a Cloud platform offers your business flexibility by operating as an OpEx (Operating Expense) as opposed to a CapEx (Capital Expense) which requires a lower upfront cost. With Microsoft Azure you pay for what you need on a consumption basis, depending on the amount of network traffic that passes through the system, or the amount of storage used. The amount paid will therefore vary monthly depending on your usage. This also allows for scaling or your business and greater flexibility.
As an OpEx with Microsoft Azure you spend a small amount on an agreed plan as opposed to with CapEx where you must budget for a big lumpy expenditure every five or six years (as things go out of date). You need to foresee the future and make projections many years ahead as to how your business will grow or shrink – a task that can be near impossible. Who can get an accurate vision of what is going to happen in five years’ time? An example of this is Coronavirus which came out of nowhere and nobody saw that coming.
Your Cloud experts
Our expert team of Cloud experts will help your business to embrace the technology that erodes red tape and manual process, ensuring you flourish in the digital age. The Cloud will enable your team to move into a prosperous future of growth and productivity with technology as a powerful ally.
Contact us now and find out how we can help you transform your digital landscape into one that aligns with not only your vision for the future but the future of computing all over the globe.