According to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), many agencies are failing to properly review whether there is a sound basis for continuing legacy IT systems, despite spending billion to maintain them.
The majority of IT spending at federal agencies does not go toward developing or deploying new capabilities, but instead toward maintaining legacy IT systems, GAO reported. Spending on maintenance and operations, also known as steady-state investments, accounted for nearly 70 percent of the $79 billion agencies spent on IT in fiscal 2011.
XS International, an IT services company that specializes in cross-platform OEM and alternative IT maintenance, data center consolidation, data center relocation, IT asset disposition and IT hardware and software sales, recently responded to the GAO report and the pull between legacy and new systems in a blog post.
According to the GAO report, not all legacy IT systems are antiquated or unnecessary; however, without the comprehensive reviews, it's hard to quantify how effective existing IT investments have been. The report found that about $3 billion worth of systems did not undergo review across five agencies – Homeland Security, Defense, Treasury, Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs.
Spending on support of old systems is not glamorous, but it is necessary and highly cost-effective.
“Thousands of businesses have been brought to their knees by converting old functional systems from Cisco, HP & IBM (News - Alert) to more elaborate systems full of bugs,” the blog explains. “Many have wished they didn’t spend those millions to fix what wasn’t broken. It is common for a major SAP (News - Alert) or Oracle implementation to take years and be millions over budget. New systems are almost a guarantee of massive budget over-run and delay.”
According to the blog, the private industry is headed toward the increasing use of cloud applications for this very reason – the delay and costs involved in setting up new applications can be avoided.
In order to prevent these new systems from turning into tomorrow’s legacy systems, the OEM is increasingly turning to restrictions on independent repair and support and increasingly shorting service lives. Once the OEM declares end-of-service life (EOSL), then unless the government is prepared to contract with independents, the products in use will have to be replaced.
XS International’s alternative IT maintenance solutions provide support even after declared end-of-life (EOL) or end-of-service (EOS). Once a product is declared EOL, the manufacturer will only provide software support for another one to five years, but hardware support will not be covered. OEMs declare equipment EOL or EOS for reasons including technology innovations that make new products and software available, less market demand on a particular model means production of that model is no longer profitable, supply of replacement parts dries up, legacy technical personnel become too senior and therefore too expensive and there is pressure on OEMs to increase company revenue by replacing old products in the field with new products.
Not only can businesses continue using end-of-life equipment, but they may even find it is much less expensive in the long run than purchasing replacement equipment. A few options for IT pros looking for ways to support their EOL switches and routers include using alternative maintenance and replacement services, getting low-cost spares and utilizing both maintenance and spares.
For legacy systems, the key is availability of repair, which in the case of the IT industry means post-warranty repair.
XSi compares this to car repair; if you shop for Ford car repair exclusively at Ford dealerships, Ford will control entirely the pricing and availability of the service and the only choice will be the name on the purchase order for fulfillment. The same goes for OEMs. Alternative service providers offer flexibility and support that they may not get with OEMs.
“It is shameful that the GAO is ignored by so many departments, but more shameful that the GSA (News - Alert) has failed in their obligation to protect taxpayers with competitive contracting options,” the blog concludes.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo