Legacy IT systems hog IT skills

Legacy systems are consuming too much of the

Legacy systems are consuming too much of the IT skills and support resources of businesses, according to two-thirds of IT executives.

According to research carried out by software supplier Macro 4of 119IT executives, 69% said they wanted to reallocate skills and support resources that are currently dedicated to legacy systems.

But IT directors are holding back from replacing legacy systems because of fears related to the cost and complexity of doing so.

This admission comes despite a realisation that these systems, often over 30 years old, are using up resources such as power, skills and space that could be better used.

Over 42% admitted to keeping older applications alive just to retain access to historical data and 87% agreed that this ties up resources that could be redeployed elsewhere.

"Older applications can be a real support headache because they require different skill sets and tend to be harder to pick apart when things go wrong. And in many cases companies are incurring extra overheads because they need to keep old hardware and software solely for a legacy application to run on," said Jeremy Harpham, document management systems product manager at Macro 4.

Most IT executives (91%) are worried about retiring legacy systems because of cost and complexities, said the survey report.

The banking sector is a good example of an industry being held back by legacy systems. Banks use legacy applications that date back as much as 40 years.

These systems are business critical 24 hours a day and retiring them is a major obstacle.

According to research from Spectrum Consulting back in June most banks will still use the same legacy systems for at least another five years despite the fact that they increase costs and decrease flexibility. The survey found that 76% of banking professionals believe legacy IT systems, used to process banking products for up to 40 years, will still be used in 2013.

Rajeena Brar, consultant at Pierre Audoin Consultants, said banks have started getting rid of legacy systems but they do not want to risk doing this in one go. "They see this as too risky."

She added that the current slowdown in the financial services market will slow this down in some areas. "Where the banks have found weaknesses which exposed them to the credit crunch, such as risk management we will see investment in IT systems."

Read more on IT risk management