Business burdened with legacies

It isn't just legacy systems that can stifle an organization, but legacy thinking.

People resistant to change will not survive changes to the industry, according to Gartner analyst Steve Prentice.

Gartner estimates IT jobs will be cut in half by 2010, thereby removing stagnant-minded staff.

"The skills of the past are not those required in the future and organizations will find it increasingly difficult to retain necessary expertise in an ageing workforce," Prentice said.

The research firm says legacy thinking occurs "when attempts to retire or replace systems are undermined by entrenched attitudes towards change, fear of the issues and risks involved, and budgetary constraints".

Gartner says examples of legacy psyche are "it's always been done that way", "our application is unique", and "this is core to our business - we cannot change it".

"While many ageing systems remain inflexible and are disproportionately expensive to maintain, (and may be impossible to modify), they may not be the priority for replacement if they are not constraining current business strategies and processes," Prentice said.

"Newly installed systems, while utilizing up-to-date technology, may not be delivering services in line with changed business strategies and will be constraining [business] and must be regarded as 'legacy'."

While he says legacy systems impede business progress, Gartner emphasizes that legacy thinking should be the catalyst for improvement.

"The primary issue is not hardware or software, but individual and corporate attitudes towards change. Skills will change and older staff will struggle ... we anticipate significant changes in the skills required in IT in the future [by 2010], as the emphasis moves away from pure technology towards a focus on business, process, information and relationship management," he said.

Gartner analyst Brian Gammage said the goal is to replace a legacy business with a real-time enterprise, which detects and responds to opportunities and problems faster. The company must then implement real time IT infrastructure (RTI), which is more automated and less heterogeneous.

"RTI has three value propositions expressed as business goals: reduced costs achieved by more efficient resource usage and reduced IT operations-management (labour) costs; improved service levels through dynamic tuning of IT services; and increased agility from rapid provisioning of new services or resources and scaling of established services," he said.

"To achieve RTI, reduce the complexity of architectures through standardization, which removes inhibiting policy-based adjustment of infrastructure technology. "[Consider] automation as it promotes RTI by improving efficiency, quality, cost-structure and agility; it will extend across entire domains over time as people-intensive functions become automated."

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