Application Retirement: How Do You Preserve The Value Of Data?

Whether the result of growth or acquisition, enterprises that have been around a decade or longer typically have large and complex information environments with lots of redundant and obsolete applications. But there is always the worry that one day there will be a need to access the old applications’ data.

So they’re kept on, racking up sizable costs in license fees, maintenance, power, data center space, backups, and precious IT time. In many companies, there are hundreds, even thousands, of obsolete or redundant applications, and the business continues to support them with expensive production level infrastructure and SLAs.

But as we’re facing the longest double dip recession for 50 years, businesses are being forced to think about reclaiming this extraneous spend for more strategic purposes by retiring any outdated applications… but without losing access to the data. Keeping data from dormant applications “live” as a safeguard is more than just good common sense. In many cases, keeping the data readily accessible is compulsory due to corporate, industry, and governmental compliance demands. But you needn’t spend full production costs to do so.

Retaining data, and data access, in a uniform manner

There is high potential for significant cost savings around archiving application data. For instance, inactive data can be selectively removed from applications to manage data growth in production environments, and backup and recovery can be streamlined, thus reducing hardware costs and improving system performance. But application retirement goes much, much further than this. Retirement means archiving everything and then decommissioning the legacy application.

With application retirement, the goal is to retain the data in an efficient manner. This typically means compressing it by 90 percent or more and saving it securely as an immutable file in lower cost storage and maintaining easy access. Doing this, you eliminate the need for the application license and free up servers and storage for more critical purposes. But you still want to provide full query access and search across the retired data, so that they are available for audits and eDiscovery. Only when you can do this have you effectively retired the application, and not just pulled the plug on it wholesale.

Finding the right retirement solution

What kind of software solution is best for supporting effective application retirement? It’s important to realise that retirement projects might start small, with one or two applications, and then quickly blossom into full-fledged rationalisation initiatives where hundreds of dissimilar applications are retired.

So relying on individual applications or database vendors for tools and support can easily lead to a fragmented and uneven retirement strategy and archiving environment. In any event, some major application vendors offer little or even no archiving capabilities. So what’s needed is a solution that works across a heterogeneous application environment to enable a uniform and productive approach to safely and cost-effectively retire a wide variety of legacy applications and preserving their data.

Just like when choosing a retirement home for a relative, you need to carefully evaluate application retirement solutions. What looks right for today may not be able to keep up with the rapid changes taking place in IT environments, including continuing advances in cloud storage and Big Data management. So look for a vendor that possesses not only all the features and functionality, but also a successful track record and a strategic roadmap.

Conclusion

The ability to archive data over long periods, while continuing to provide easy access to it, preserves the potential usefulness of the information, reduces the risk of non-compliance, and dramatically shrinks data management costs to just a fraction of full production costs.

Application retirement is rarely a one-off project. More often than not, it’s part of a larger system rationalisation and an information lifecycle management effort. Enterprises therefore need to take a uniform approach to the retirement issue, using tools that are comprehensive and productive, in order to achieve maximum benefits from application retirement while maintaining the maximum value of the data.

Mark Dunleavy joined Informatica UK in 2006, first as a financial services manager for the data quality practice, and later on as a sales and business development director for the financial services practice. He became the managing director for Informatica UK in January 2012, and now holds primary responsibility for managing sales as well as business and solution development in the UK and Ireland, using Informatica's products and partners. Prior to his move to Informatica, Mark worked as a sales manager for SpiritSoft, and later as a financial services sales manager for Similarity Systems. He has a bachelor of commerce and a postgraduate diploma in marketing from the National University of Ireland, Galway.