Much has been said about creating software yet so little about retiring it. In many ways retiring software is just as complicated as buying or building new software.
This is because your data is encapsulated in the current system and a large migration project is required to clean and migrate it to its replacement. This can be a very costly exercise.
Typically, software is retired because:
- It is no longer secure or reliable
- It cannot be run on modern operating systems
- Few skilled resources are available to support it
- It has become stale and users no longer enjoy using it
- It no longer fulfills the requirements of the business
For the last two points, integration with other systems is often a way to breathe life into your current software and extend it to meet new business processes. One extreme example is where data locked in an ’80s AS/400 computer was made available to a website by programmatically emulating keystrokes then “screen scraping” the characters that appear on the green screen terminals. This integration allows the AS/400 database to remain the data source while enabling data to be accessed and updated using modern web technologies. Sharing data to a wider audience is a common problem that integration can overcome.
Integration can add features missing from new systems as well. An example we are familiar with is integrating Sitecore CMS and Salesforce CRM. Both systems interact with people so it is possible to share and process data with the huge range of automation features available in Salesforce or drive website personalization from the CRM.
Always consider integration before giving up on your old software, or changing to a new system. You may have years of life left in your current system!