89% of IT chiefs admit to using outdated applications despite vulnerability to security

The results of the survey, conducted by Macro 4, a branch under UNICOM Global, found that 89 out of the 100 IT chiefs questioned continued to use obsolete systems to keep archived material accessible, while 82% said that they recognised that legacy systems are incompatible with modern security methods, with 87% of participants agreeing that these systems are vulnerable to security threats.

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When asked what their reasons were for this, the most cited motive (54%) was simply that participants found moving the archived data somewhere else too difficult.

Reluctance to part ways with legacy applications (39%), lack of relevant skills needed to decommission legacy applications (32%), concerns towards possibly not being able to meet compliance obligations (32%), and lack of time (32%) were also prominent answers.

Macro 4’s Commercial and Technical Director Jim Allum explained that although it is usually the case that applications that have become outdated are replaced, many IT businesses believe that it is too risky to get rid of them completely due to so much useful data being stored on them.

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“Businesses can’t afford to lose access to all that data, so they just keep the old applications on ‘life support’, which causes a lot of problems. Old systems are typically harder to fix when they go wrong, harder to keep secure and cost more to support – that’s if you can find people with the right legacy skills,” Allum says.

“It creates a huge burden, especially where companies are running dozens or even hundreds of legacy applications – which is surprisingly common.”

Allum went on to refer to the use of outdated systems as a “barrier” between IT businesses and digital transformation.

“Problems integrating ageing systems with new applications mean you end up with silos of data, which makes it that much harder to create a seamless digital experience,” he explains.

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In terms of an alternative method for preserving archived material, Macro 4’s Commercial and Technical Director recommended moving the data “into a content repository where business users can continue to access it so that the original application can be retired.

“At the same time, you should adopt a repeatable decommissioning process that will work for any legacy application you choose to retire.

“Finally, make sure that your new repository can keep the decommissioned data safe, secure and compliant – and is easy for businesspeople to use so it gains their acceptance.”

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.