Legacy Systems at Data Centers – Love them or Leave them?

Every data center owner and manager faces the dilemma of legacy systems and making the important decision of when to upgrade and when to keep going. In a generation where technology enhancements are happening at a rapid pace, legacy systems sometimes still provide the power and capacity that many new systems cannot match up to. At the end of the day, the trick is to evaluate the need at that time and make the right judgement call.

Legacy Systems at Data Centers – Love them or Leave them?For example, many data centers still host mission critical applications for both government and industry on legacy hardware running the OpenVMS operating system, that dates as far back as 1977. In fact, the OpenVMS has a disaster recovery system that is one of the most robust ones in the industry today. During the NYC 9/11 disaster, the only system that could remain online was one that was running the OpenVMS operating system deployed on its AlpaServer hardware.

For high scale operations that require 100% uptime, many customers do not even consider changing to modern systems, no matter what the newer features may be. This is because the risk of migration alone is higher than any new feature that the modern system may provide, and the philosophy is to stick to simplicity and to stick with what has been working wonderfully for so many years.

Another advantage of legacy systems is the low-cost. A recent comparison study revealed that managing an environment with 40 servers and 10 databases was 50% less expensive when using legacy OpenVMS systems. The study also indicates that the legacy system is 10 times more secure than its modern-day counterparts, and has 75-91 times less security vulnerabilities that are unaddressed.

There are many options available today at data centers where old hardware can be refurbished to get a new lease of life of at-least 10 years more. If the hardware cannot keep up, then another idea is to use emulation so as to virtualize the legacy hardware. This has many advantages since there is no down time involved and no additional user training needed for migration to a newer system.

Old is often gold, and legacy systems are often undervalued and thrown away just to keep up with the technology ‘Joneses’. Again, if the parent company (such as HP that will stop support of legacy systems beyond 2020) is not supportive enough, then you may be forced to go for an upgrade to a newer technology/hardware/software change. For more information on making key decisions with regards to legacy systems, consult with the experts at www.lifelinedatacenters.com today.

Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.