Last updated on 21 November 2018

Ben Saxton is Head of Sales at Formpipe Life Science

By 2020, 50% of all current applications in the data centre will be retired. In fact, between 2016 and 2020, IT organisations will decommission more than three times the number of applications they have previously since 2000. This has resulted in the need for organisations to retire existing applications and seek out a future-proof solution, and fast. What was once an afterthought, retaining business assets and developing a plan for maintaining future records, is now a business-critical task.

But, seeking out a reliable solution comes with its share of hurdles. As enterprises modernise their application portfolios, they face a growing challenge in finding cost-effective solutions to retire their current applications and retain access to historic data that has yet to be migrated to a replacement solution.

With market projections indicating the need to retire current systems, many organisations are still reluctant to move their historic data to a new solution out of fear that vital records will be lost in the transition. Yet, it’s important for businesses to put their fear aside, as maintaining legacy systems is proving an ineffective and costly endeavour, swallowing IT budgets.

Common Business Challenges

As organisations strive to enhance their competitiveness in the market, IT departments struggle to keep up with ever-tightening budgets as they continue to invest in the latest technology. Cost aside, shifting business landscapes, such as mergers and acquisitions, widespread adoption of cloud-based technology, regulatory requirements and inevitable data accumulation all influence businesses’ need to retire current systems and move towards a future-proof solution.

Mergers and acquisitions are becoming more common than not and with that comes consolidated enterprise systems and adjustments to team structure. Preparing for what is seemingly becoming inevitable for many, mergers and consolidated business operations, will require business leaders to get smart about their historic and future records.

Cloud-based technology adoption has proven to be a promising path for most resulting in lower capital overheads and increased accessibility across organisations. This, in turn, helps to rationalise the retirement of outdated systems and implementing a cloud-compatible alternative. 

The increasing number of regulatory requirements, such as GDPR, now demand that every organisation know what data they’ve stored, where they’ve stored it, why they’ve stored it and how they can access, distribute and delete it. Additionally, many organisations, such as those in the life science sector, are being held to strict regulatory guidelines and must prove their compliance by the presentation of historical data. Organisations that face these strict regulations are under increased pressure to maintain these vital records, as their existence depends upon it.

Ultimately, organisations, regardless of their specific challenges, are facing rapid accumulations of data, which will only continue to increase. Additionally, technology is becoming obsolete almost immediately after its release and personnel who manage data centres will continue to turn over. The longer businesses put off system retirement, the more challenging the task will become.

Solutions with Purpose

Luckily, solutions exist to care for these common business challenges.

At Formpipe, we recognised this problem some years ago and developed a long-term digital data preservation platform, Long Term Archive (LTA). Developed in line with the ISO:OAIS framework and following archiving best practice, LTA offers long-term storage of critical documents and data with proven file conversion paths that guarantee users can not only access their files, but can also read the contents.

This LTA solution offers repeatable retirement of legacy applications, file servers, websites, databases and paper documents. With a defined place for all static data to end up, organisations can experience multiple benefits such as:

  • Reduced cost through termination of license and maintenance contracts tied to the legacy applications
  • Enhanced insight and access to data
  • A reduced complexity in the overall architecture
  • Compliance with requirements from GDPR

During LTA’s product life we have experienced migrating the same systems multiple times over such as Sharepoint, Lotus Notes and multiple retired ERPs. This is no surprise given the familiarity in the systems used by both private and public sector organisations. We often find that Sharepoint systems have no structured metadata due to large range of document owners and creators. The migration process therefore needs to include metadata enrichment based on content type to enable effective structure and meaningful searches to be executed.

We have experienced uniformity within migrations from Dynamics most likely due to these systems being younger and following a defined structure but some of the older ERPs often contain bespoke file types originating from both within the ERP and third party systems feeds. The migration challenge for these files is to convert into a preservation file whilst maintaining the integrity of the native file and proving the source file has remained a true copy

A recent example, concerned a large public sector organisation in the migration of 2.5 million public records, which were deemed sensitive and fell under GDPR requirements. The migration stemmed from the organisation’s current but dated document management solution no longer meeting their record retention needs and lack of support provided in maintaining sensitive information.

With the need to migrate the organisation’s data in a limited period-of-time, Formpipe’s LTA solution was implemented. To help manage the sensitive nature of the data and various file types, a pilot was initiated to determine the right migration path before applying a solution to the entire data set. With the pilot proving a reliable path forward, the organisation realised success in moving forward with the migration of their full system.

A Path Forward

Beware of simple (and expensive) storage solutions, as storing records is just one piece of the puzzle. Moving data from current legacy systems to another static system will prove to be a costly, inefficient exercise.

Rather, seek out a dynamic solution that maintains data integrity and empowers your business to USE data. The result? A long-term, cost-effective means of securing your business’ future.

For more information on Formpipe’s Long-Term Archive (LTA) solution, please visit:

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