controlling chaos (rudall30/

Lessons learned from leaving legacy tech behind

Governments at all levels struggle with the trap of their legacy IT. Outdated systems can be slow, insecure and increasingly costly to maintain, but often are essential to critical agency missions.

Now the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service -- which was created in 2011 to modernize UK government IT -- has conducted a study of government agencies to learn where the most serious problems exist and to determine where changes can be made.

GDS experts found it is tricky to determine what actually defines legacy technology. Based on their research, they decided legacy technology could be categorized as infrastructure, systems, on-premise hardware, business and IT processes and old digital services.

The technology deemed legacy IT became impossible to update, presented unsolved and unsolvable problems and was unable to meet current standards.

While the migration from legacy was difficult, GDS also found eight non-technical factors that inhibit the process. The business processes and culture; decision making and spending models; data usage; budgets and IT costs; guidance and existing policies; resources; suppliers; and security are shaped the equation.

GDS researchers determined that data is the biggest barrier to migration, due to stakeholders' fear of data loss and ownership concerns, storage concerns and difficulty in keeping the different data sources synchronized.

To solve this problem, GDS suggests looking into a combination of strategies depending on agency size and infrastructure complexity. One common strategy is starting small rather than migrating the entire infrastructure all at once.

GDS will continue its work to help agencies transition from legacy technology by developing a high-level strategy and identifying case studies and legacy patterns that can help others with the transition.

Read the full blog post here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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