IT leaders have identified modernization of information technology systems as the best way to unlock more effective and efficient government. But if modernization is the key, then legacy infrastructure is the rusty hinge preventing the door from swinging open. The challenge for federal agencies is to find a solution that encompasses all aspects of modernization, including the transformation and incorporation of legacy applications.
Propping up legacy IT systems has long been a costly and intractable problem. Year after year, agencies sacrifice tens of billions of dollars and armies of skilled IT practitioners to keep legacies’ lights on – resources that could otherwise fuel IT modernization and even innovation.
Entrenched systems developed decades ago using out-of date coding languages (COBOL, Assembly, Ada, etc.) have been stubbornly resistant to modernization. Legacy systems rarely have documentation of the type that accompanies modern applications, and today’s programmers aren’t experienced in the legacy systems’ protocols. In many cases, people with the skills to patch or fix legacy systems simply don’t exist.
Even though organizations and their IT teams acknowledge the inefficiency of legacy applications, they are reluctant to tinker with the machinery, lest they get themselves into what they fear could be a worse situation.
“The idea is, if it’s not broken, don’t mess with it,” said Alan Lawrence, Vice President of Boomi Federal.
But not messing with it doesn’t mean that it’s not broken. Legacy systems continue to function within the constraints of dated architectures, yet they are largely self-siloed and inert, incapable of easily integrating into modern IT ecosystems. Legacy systems considered indispensable are at the same time anchors that slow businesses processes and business intelligence, restrict the value of data, undermine security and thwart mission goals.
Solution: Integration Platform as a Service
For many federal agencies, the legacy conundrum has a solution: Integration platform as a Service (iPaaS), a cloud-native technology that enables agencies to manage integration flows among a digital ecosystem’s disparate applications.
iPaaS is a virtual fabric of connectivity that links all users, data and applications, wherever they are. In recent years, iPaaS has replaced traditional integration solutions at thousands of universities, nonprofit organizations, private sector companies and government agencies. By eliminating the high cost of maintaining legacy systems, iPaaS offsets its acquisition costs.
iPaaS securely unifies digital ecosystems to connect everyone and everything. iPaaS is an intelligent, flexible and scalable cloud-based platform that ensures “always on” business continuity. A well-conceived iPaaS solution accelerates and simplifies discovery, organization and management of data to make it actionable across an entire agency.
iPaaS connects employees, regardless of location, to applications, systems, processes and customers, enabling organizations to strengthen human and business connections – and foster trust. Ultimately, the platform liberates organizations from fragile connections and legacy technology to yield maximum return on IT investments. Gains in efficiencies and productivity – derived from greater operational speed and agility – allow agencies to reallocate resources to strategic initiatives and, ultimately, better mission attainment.
A cloud-native iPaaS can cut migration time to a new platform, from more than two years to as little as four months – and greatly reduce staff heartburn. Migrating to a new version of a platform typically entails six to nine months of regression testing and concerns that the upgrade will wreck the system.
“People are afraid to migrate from one version to another because it may break all their applications,” said Mike Clark, Technical Sales Engineer for Boomi.
iPaaS overcomes the drag of legacy systems by accessing and enriching legacy data and connecting it to a modern application environment – in the cloud or on premises – without installing the data on the iPaaS platform.
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “Overcoming Legacy Infrastructure to Deliver Digital Transformation.” Download the full report here.