Data Center Modernization Strategy: How to Streamline Your Legacy Environment

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The rapid development of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools leaves most software quickly becoming outdated. Consequently, it is replaced by the next trend on the market, after a short time. The use of such software following its “expiration” creates what is known as “legacy programs.”

Legacy programs are ones that a company implemented years ago and still use, despite being outdated or abandoned by the original makers. This means updates in security or integration options are limited or non-existent. As a result, they present several data center management challenges for network architects intent on staying reliable and reducing the need for human intervention.  

This blog will explain the importance of having a data center modernization strategy and provide a list of key considerations and actionable steps enterprises need to take to modernize their legacy systems. In addition, it will offer a couple of suggestions on where to start the modernization process. 

Challenges of a data center modernization strategy presented by legacy systems

Legacy systems create a critical challenge for companies looking to implement an efficient data center modernization strategy. Data centers often hang on to these programs due to staff familiarity. Still, the “convenience” they provide to employees masks a difficult-to-manage backend with the potential disaster for the network engineers using them; this is also why enterprises should prioritize modernizing their strategy. The obstacles presented by legacy systems include: 

  • Integration: Legacy systems are dated enough that they don’t work well with newer software.  
  • Security: Older software may not work well with modern security systems, leaving the data kept on them especially vulnerable to cyberattacks. 
  • Data storage: Pre-cloud software stores data in a company data silo, making it challenging to transfer legacy data when needed compared with newer software. 
  • Maintenance: Legacy systems may not have repair options available, forcing companies using them to go to expensive 3rd party maintenance vendors.

These setbacks are endemic to legacy systems found in data centers. We should, consequently, consider how enterprises can modernize them. Before we get into possible solutions for legacy systems, here are some additional considerations regarding use cases and maintenance in data center management.

Key considerations of legacy systems

Despite the pitfalls associated with legacy systems, many data centers still utilize them for various reasons. Maybe their strategy has worked just fine so far; perhaps their problems are minor, at most. In this way, it might be helpful to modernize the data center strategy as less a complete replacement and more as a comprehensive reformation.

Data centers hoping to hang on to their legacy systems might do so because:

  • Ease of use: The center’s network engineers are familiar with it, contributing to daily operations running smoothly (if it’s not broken, don’t fix it). 
  • Specific features: Perhaps this system offers something not available on newer systems that helps make running the center more efficient. 
  • Cost/benefit analysis: The center knows it needs to update, but the high cost of doing so constantly places it on the backburner.
  • Integration breakages: Updating one legacy system may create new issues and breakages with other legacy systems a data center might be using, leaving the company reluctant to modernize

All points are worth considering—for the many features legacy systems might lack, there are many reasons why a data center might want to hang on to one. For more information, we recommend further reading on legacy system considerations. Let’s move on and discuss what steps are most effective for a data center modernization strategy.

Data center modernization strategy

data center modernization strategySo far, we have discussed what a legacy system is, established the most significant data center management challenges, and presented some points against legacy modernization. While this information is essential for network engineers to understand, it only answers questions of “why” enterprises should modernize their strategy; yet to be answered is the question of “how.”

Listed below are two paths to modernizing data centers and some insights on what works best between them. 

Legacy maintenance

By their nature, legacy systems do not automatically integrate with newer software. However, this does not mean they’re unreachable. It is possible to purchase special equipment designed to integrate with legacy systems, such as ZPE’s Nodegrid Serial Console R-Series, and render them controllable from any web browser.

An option that allows network engineers to control and manage legacy systems this way offers advantages over traditional data migration paths:

  • Less expensive: Purchasing a single piece of hardware will cost less than upgrading all data center software. 
  • Faster: Following a brief setup, returning to a legacy system will take less time than a complete data migration method.
  • More user-friendly: Network engineers will be able to continue using programs they are familiar with instead of struggling to learn new tools.

It is also essential to understand that choosing an option like the R-series does not exclude data migration (discussed below) as a long-term solution. Both can be used in tandem, allowing for a seamless transition between systems, ensuring that staff can continue working without problems. This process, particularly when applied gradually over time, offers a smooth transition into a more streamlined data center. 

Data migration

The best long-term answer to these data center management challenges is migrating existing data from the legacy system onto a new program better suited to the ever-changing workplace. Data migration can be a difficult task, but it generally consists of a couple of steps:

  • Extracting existing data from the legacy system
  • Transitioning data to match new formats
  • Refining data to address quality issues
  • Verifying data to make sure the move goes as planned
  • Uploading data into a new system

The challenges with this approach involve high costs, significant time investment, and the risk of something going wrong with the migration path and endangering the data being migrated. Although data migration will likely play some part in a long-term modernization campaign, it does not necessarily need to be the centerpiece.

Streamlining your legacy environment with the right solutions 

Legacy systems do not have to be your worst nightmare. While modernization can be difficult and time-consuming, the current market offers multiple options to make it easier.

To summarize, the reason why data centers need an efficient modernization strategy is primarily for legacy systems. Mainly because these outdated programs are not adequately secured, do not integrate well, and often require third-party maintenance.

Legacy Maintenance or Data Migration are your best options for dealing with the data center management challenges presented by legacy systems. Suppose you are looking for more information on ZPE Systems’ data center management tools. In that case, the Nodegrid Serial Console R-Series helps to control your legacy system using only a browser. 

Want to learn more about data center modernization strategy? Get in contact with us for more information, and start your journey today!