Pressure is mounting on business owners to keep their applications up to date

If you were to walk into any business boardroom anywhere in the world, you’d likely hear the words ‘digital transformation’ at some point

Businesses of all kinds, both large and small, are slowly moving their operations into the cloud in order to increase productivity, reduce costs and make their operations safer and more secure. This cloud migration naturally comes with its own unique set of challenges, but one of the biggest challenges by far is maintaining legacy applications while leveraging the security and usability benefits of modern platforms.

While ‘off the shelf’ software packages are usually simple to keep up to date, many other customised applications tend to get left behind because the update process is a lot more complex and involved. This is dangerous for many reasons, not least because these applications are usually the ones that businesses depend on the most during their day to day operations. Should something happen to one of these outdated applications due to a sudden incompatibility problem or a virus, it can bring an organisation to its knees.

Another crucial point to note is that any legacy application that is not updated or migrated into a safe environment becomes an immediate security risk, making that business a ripe target for cyberattacks. To give this some context, over 70% of computers in the US still depend on Windows 7 and Windows server 2008 for one reason or another, both of which will see official support from Microsoft end in January 2020. 

The pressure is mounting.

Why aren’t business owners keeping their applications up to date?

Despite the mounting risk, too many businesses are still using legacy applications that leave them wide open and vulnerable to countless issues that could disrupt, or even ruin, their business. Why?

Cloudhouse’s own research points to concern around the complexity and cost of updating, with 67% of businesses fearing a complicated, drawn-out process that will be difficult to manage and afford. The same report tells us that 95% of those businesses are still dependent on Windows 7 for one or more applications.

Fear seems to be one of the main factors holding businesses back, but this could also be framed as a lack of knowledge or understanding about the process of updating and migrating. With a bit of knowledge and the right talent on hand, a lot of businessesmay well change their perception of migration, seeing the obvious value and benefit that lies within.

What businesses need to know about updating their applications

It’s important that we begin to break down this stigma that updating applications is overly complex or too difficult. Even if that was the case, the benefits of updating would still far outweigh the risks of continuing to use vulnerable legacy software.

Updating off-the-shelf applications is easy, and sometimes even automatic. But what happens when you have a tailored piece of software that does a very specific job, that only runs on a legacy OS such as Windows 7 or Server 2008? Updating that piece of software can be costly, and sometimes impossible. There are, however, a number of solutions that often go unnoticed by businesses.

Virtualisation is sometimes used, although this isn’t guaranteed to resolve conflicts and can still lead to some compatibility issues down the line. What has been proven to work better than anything though, is application compatibility packaging. In essence, this lifts an application from its legacy environment and deploys it, along with everything it needs to function, onto the modern platform, whether it be in the cloud, on-premise, to the desktop or a combination of the three.. Not only does this futureproof it for future l OS updates, it also tightens security around the application and eliminates it as a weak link in the chain.

Businesses have understandably come to depend on customised applications to help them with their day to day operations. However, those applications are often dependent on legacy OS software that is outdated and vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Businesses should know that rewriting the application or purchasing a new one (with all the retraining that’s involved) isn’t the only way forward. Application compatibility packaging can safely migrate an application onto the cloud, allowing staff to continue to use it without compromising on productivity, stability or security.

About the Author

Mat Clothier is CEO of Cloudhouse. At Cloudhouse we believe that nobody should ever have to run the risk of managing a single business application on an unsupported, unsecure Windows or Citrix platform. Customers like GE Healthcare, National Australia Bank, HM Government, and Jaguar Land Rover rely on our pioneering technology to run legacy business-critical applications on the latest secure, supported and compliant platforms 

Featured image: ©Gorodenkoff