Texas takes on its legacy infrastructure

Texas legacy detox: 6 ways to clean up aging IT

Like many states, Texas has an aging and sprawling IT infrastructure.

A recent report from the Texas Department of Information Resources identified more than 13,000  physical and virtual server instances and 100,000 software products that support the state’s 4,130 business applications.

But over half of the business applications are considered legacy, meaning the hardware and software is no longer supported by the vendor.

Because such aging systems can be costly, inefficient and risky, the report, Legacy Systems Study:  Assessment and Recommendations, aims to give the state’s leadership guidance on whether to replace or update its aging IT infrastructure.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Of the state’s 4,130 business applications, approximately 58 percent contain legacy components.
  • Almost two-thirds of mission-critical applications have legacy components.
  • The applications categories with the highest number of hardware and software legacy components were licensing, business, systems management and reporting.
  • The majority of the remediation costs were in application categories of business automation, content management services, reporting and licensing.
  • Average age of existing hardware varies somewhat with the oldest average hardware in fax, web forms, print and videoconferencing applications. 

As demand for state IT services grows, agencies become increasingly dependent on automation. But they are often forced to invest in systems that support daily activities and provide immediate business value, neglecting upgrades and  maintenance that deliver fewer, less tangible short-term benefits.

Over time, the authors say, “technical debt accumulates and becomes harder to reconcile.”

Although the cost to replace the legacy systems would be substantial (a one-time estimated cost of over $450 million), the state’s ongoing cost to maintain the legacy portfolio, based on support effort and license fees is over $300 million.

The authors make six recommendations on how tackle the problem:

1. Identify and prioritize security risks and develop the most expedient and least disruptive approach to mitigate them.

2. Develop a legacy modernization roadmap because the legacy issue is widespread and remediation options are complex.

3. Establish statewide standards for application development that could facilitate cross-agency coordination to leverage common solutions.

4. Seek commercial off-the-shelf solutions over custom-developed solutions, particularly cloud-based services to reduce the number and complexity of technologies.

5. Consolidate reporting and analytics into consolidated business intelligence services to reduce the hardware and software supporting common reporting functions.

6. Implement application portfolio management practices that would provide consistency in the data, enabling reliable review and easier cross-agency application rationalization and collaboration. 

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