Accumulating Debt from Legacy IT Systems

by | Aug 31, 2023 | Cybersecurity, Information Technology, INSI Articles, Managed Services

Legacy IT System Debt.  What is it?  What can be done about it?  This article explores the dangers of tech debt from legacy IT systems and what you can do about them.

What is a Legacy IT System?

Legacy IT systems are software or hardware that is outdated and yet still in use. If your company has been in business for years, you’re likely holding on to legacy IT systems for the old data. But is that doing more harm than good? We will explore.

What is Technical Debt?

According to Wikipedia, “Technical debt is a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy solution now instead of using a better approach that would take longer.” Simply put, tech debt is the hidden cost of keeping legacy systems.

Legacy IT Systems Cause Technical Debt

Most companies hold on to legacy IT systems purely for the data. Moving the data to a current version is often avoided because it is costly and time-consuming. However, the disadvantages of holding on to these outdated systems are just as painful. Subsequently, the penalties include security vulnerabilities, data silos, and lack of innovation.

Security Vulnerabilities

The number one issue with legacy IT systems is the security vulnerabilities. It may surprise you that new software already comes riddled with holes and vulnerabilities. Interestingly, nine out of ten software programmers use existing code to write new software. This is because it is easier to use embedded code that has already been through the process of fixes, workarounds, and expert knowledge input than to spend time correcting code.

However, even the existing code has holes and vulnerabilities. For this reason, software vendors send out updates/patches or create new versions over time. Of course, software companies will not support the older versions forever. So, they put an end date on the support. After that end date, the company needs to segregate or upgrade the data to keep its network safe. 

Data Silos

In time, software companies stop supporting the older versions, and some even go out of business. When this happens, the company has to segregate the data into silos or risk becoming a cyber hacker’s next target.

Data silos hurt staff productivity and create a highly manual process to access and copy the information into the software. After all, the systems cannot be connected to the network in any way or they risk a hack’s penetrating the system.

Legacy IT Systems Disrupt Innovation

Lack of innovation is a significant consequence for any company that relies on legacy systems. Interestingly, 2020 taught us that today’s client is more connected than ever before through various technical devices. As a result, they demand fast and efficient service.

Forward-thinking companies use analytics to see how they can meet their clients where they are and deliver the services they want. Yet, those who remained in silos could not view all the data and therefore fell behind their competitors. Innovation is available to those who keep up with technology, not stay in their ridged ways.

How to Upgrade Legacy IT Systems and Eliminate Technical Debt

Legacy hardware, such as firewalls and out-of-warranty computers and servers, should be replaced as soon as possible. However, the key to successful migration of data is a step-by-step systematic approach with the following steps:

  1. Identify – Identify the type of data and format.
    2. Build Your Team – The data migration process requires assistance from finance, IT, developers, and engineers. Choose your team wisely.
    3. Select System- Choose a newer system that closely matches the business need and will give you a competitive edge.
    4. Select Location – Determine if you want to store the new software in the cloud or if you want it on a local server.
    5. Set Budget – Determine how long it will take to move the source data from configuration to testing and set your budget.
    6. Inventory Your Data – Inventory your data in case of compliance issues.
    7. Back Up All Your Data – Back up all your essential files in case of a systems crash or hard-drive failure.
    8. Execute Your Data Migration Plan – Follow the steps of your data migration plan.
    9. Test After Each Migration Phase – Ensure no data is lost or compromised. Additionally, make sure it is fully functional after the migration.
    10. Maintain – Moving forward, keep your software and hardware maintained and current to avoid going through this process again.


Data migration is a significant project and should only be performed by IT professionals. INSI can help clients manage this process to ensure the data is safe, secure, and uncompromised. For more information about getting help on your next data migration project, connect with the top MSP in Atlanta, INSI, by calling: 770-387-2424, option 2.

About INSI: The Best MSP in Atlanta!

Innovative Network Systems, Inc. has a unique approach to integrating IT support and cybersecurity. Our month-to-month programs range from basic support to proactive support, managed support, and customized support. Each program is tailored to the client’s needs and internal IT strengths.  

For more information about cybersecurity dangers and the preventative measures for your company, connect with the top MSP in Atlanta; Contact INSI: 770-387-2424, option 2 or click the link below. In addition, we offer 16 different cybersecurity programs to protect you and your data.

About the Author

Deborah Frazier is the author of IT Outsourcing Secrets – A Small Business Guide to Compare IT Support Companies. With nearly 20 years of experience consulting small and medium-sized businesses on their IT support needs, she brings a wealth of knowledge to INSI as Head of Marketing and Sales. If you like this article and want to be notified when a new article is posted, click here.

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