|Systems may be reliable and performing as originally intended, but can also be
outdated in comparison to current technology offerings
Let’s start by defining what a legacy system is in the context of a security control system. Legacy refers to an installed and operating security control system made up of numerous components, both hardware and software, that have been eclipsed by newer technologies. A shortage of parts and pieces may be creeping in, and it’s also likely the older stuff has a service tech scratching his head when faced with a configuration setting or data entry protocol.
The newer technologies, however, may still be providing much of the desired functionality required by the legacy system user. Legacy in this context then is not necessarily a pejorative term. The system may be both reliable and performing as originally intended but is outdated in comparison to current technology offerings both from a communications standpoint and as it relates to applications and data mining.
So what to do? For openers, as my dad would day, do a Ben Franklin list of do’s and don’ts.
Naturally you’d love to move to a new, bigger or smaller, better and faster system. But, first, what does that list look like? I for one think is might begin to look like this:
Things to do when managing legacy systems
Do you have a handle on your current technology capabilities? Many legacy systems are underutilised and have features that are not used. Revisit your systems capabilities: You are likely to make some pleasant discoveries.
Do you have a handle on your current technology capabilities? Many legacy systems are underutilised and have features that are not used
Do you currently know how all of the pieces and parts in your system are currently communicating? A great start for planning the next steps is to understand the “plumbing.” Associated with that is the location of communication; specifically, how are things wired and where are they terminated, recorded and catalogued?
What does your power distribution for the system components look like? Do you have backup and other means of maintaining operations during a loss of power, and where is that stuff? If not done recently, this step provides an opportunity to ensure you are ready for things that don’t happen and also to revisit codes. It’s always worthwhile if a maintenance provider is available to a system test in this area, or it can be self-conducted.
What is the state of your record management, and when was the last time you did some basic housekeeping, such as backup and the like? If you don’t remember when you did it last, stop reading and go do some housekeeping — it’s clearly due now!
What works for you and your organisation, and what have you developed a work-around for? If your “super users” have found ways to manage desired system outcomes by some clever workaround, are there other desired features? Do you have a relationship with an authorised service provider or an on-staff trained first responder?
Do you have attic stock (stuff you own) to support those older components? I like to think of it like making a road trip with a spare tire and basics in the trunk in case an extended unplanned stop on the side of the road interrupts your trip.
Have you developed a plan for an eventual upgrade? What’s first, what does it cost and whom will I let provide pricing to do so?
| Rip-and-replace isn't your only option. There are many products and services
available to migrate from a legacy to next steps utilising embedded infrastructure
Planning and management
What are my/your basic functional requirements, and where are the gaps now you must fill for enterprise sustainability?
That legacy system likely has paid its way and now needs to be retired; I’m not ready either. Do you have a business case for this refresh – applications, data mining, new and reporting and risk mitigation strategies? If not, you are missing this first step of legacy migration planning and management.
Managing the age includes a system exit strategy.
Getting C suite, namely your CFO’s, attention is key; sustainability of your enterprise is 101, so functionality as it relates to risk mitigation is essential to keeping your entity flourishing.
So what are the DON’T’s?
Don’t trivialise the migration or response to the Do’s or you’ll end up in a big To Do.
Don’t minimise the relationship with existing integration resources you have worked with, old and new. Organisations evolve, some for the best, some not so. Refresh these relationships as well; resources are like bridges – you never know when a crossing is needed.
Don’t rush into the latest and greatest; be wary of who’s definition you subscribe to. There’s a reason they call it the “cutting” edge.
Don’t believe that rip-and-replace is your only option. There are many legacy systems in our industry, and many well-made and well-thought-out products and services are available to migrate from a legacy to next steps utilising embedded infrastructure.
The bottom line: Define your parameters, select your partners and engage companies with a history of legacy migration and thought leadership.
If your legacy includes some products with forward-thinking engineering thought leadership, you may be able to manage your needs with security control board-level replacements or the flashing of new firmware and upgrades to software.
I‘m aware of several companies whose products elegantly move through time, adding new applications and functionality without wholesale rip-and-replace. These legacies carry on.
The market has responded to you and others eager to know their options. There are many ingenious and clever ways to upgrade communications and transport of data, reliable mainstream products designed to meet this challenge head-on.
There are solutions aimed at allowing you to use current IT and Internet of Things (IoT) apps and functionality. However, there are also quite a number of technology partners able help make the leap from analogue to digital using existing pathways.
The bottom line: Define your parameters, select your partners and engage companies with a history of legacy migration and thought leadership. They are most likely to produce the best results and allow you to leave behind the legacy you want to be associated with.