A new study which examined concerns about legacy IT has found organisations are building on existing systems rather than looking for totally new technology to transform the enterprise.
The survey found respondents have moved away from IT-centric considerations, such as cost savings and platform consolidation as their primary focus.
Instead, organisations are more concerned with business issues such as real-time access to legacy data, agility and the flexibility to meet business demands.
In addition, respondents no longer look predominantly to rewriting, replacing or outsourcing as the primary strategies for dealing with legacy systems.
Modernisation is now the overwhelming preference, according to the report released by Software AG entitled "Customer Survey Report: Legacy Modernisation" (June 2007). The survey gathered 247 responses from 183 Software AG customers across North America and Europe.
The survey also found more than 60% of respondents were "very" or "extremely" concerned about "the flexibility of this [legacy] system to be quickly modified to meet changing business requirements."
Nearly 60% of respondents were very concerned about real-time interaction between this [legacy] system and other systems to support business process automation.
Software AG director, Steve Keys, said legacy systems remain a significant part of the enterprise. "We've found [many] large organisations have decided to retain rather than replace legacy systems; the SOA trend has a lot to do with this shift in attitude," he said.
However, business has always been reluctant to ditch its investments, and the availability of legacy integration middleware from the likes of IBM, BEA, SUN and Tibco have enabled IT to breathe life into legacy systems for more than a decade.
Kevin McIsaac, senior analyst at Australian analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS), said while maintaining legacy systems is often an expensive decision, the IT shops of many global corporates and government departments have been built by integrating new front ends to old systems.
"Maintaining legacy systems can be very expensive and time-consuming but it has been done for 15 years so its certainly nothing new," McIsaac said.
"Net banking is an obvious example where some new web front-end functionality has been written and overlaid over a legacy transaction system."
He said the decision of whether to ditch legacy for an off-the-shelf solution or build new integration features is difficult and is unique to each business.
Referencing examples of major legacy integration projects, McIsaac said Singapore Airlines built a Java front end for its archaic IBM transaction processing facility (TPF) for its customers and staff, while Qantas runs its core booking system on a legacy mainframe.