Earlier this month, a long-time 3000 migration firm pointed to an IEEE article about legacy IT investments. Inside the Hidden World of Legacy IT Systems quotes a study by Statista that reports that three-quarters of all IT spending since 2010 goes toward operating and maintaining existing systems. The numbers throughout the IEEE article tell a story that's familiar to legacy managers like those who maintain HP 3000s. $2.5 trillion, out of a total IT spend of $35 trillion, has gone to trying to replace legacy systems. Nearly a third of that has been spent on failed efforts.
Fresche Solutions' co-founder Jennifer Fisher pointed at the legacy link. The company was once called Speedware, selling development tools and experience with legacy systems. By today, the company's got 22,000 customers, many in what 3000 managers would call the AS/400 space, and it sells X-Analysis, onboarding software that delivers reports on what's inside a legacy installation's many software modules.
Christine McDowell, VP of marketing at Fresche, says that legacy systems got themselves into a jam because they've run so effectively up to now. "The systems ran so well that they didn't change a lot," she says. "Time has caught up with them." Older languages, such as RPG in the IBM Series i space that's the modern name for AS/400, are providing a lot of the pain for legacy refreshes.
The company is still managing HP 3000 resources, along with Series i systems, as part of its solutions. There's no more growth in the Series i market than in the HP 3000 space: "We don't see net new IBM i," McDowell says. The growth has been negative in the HP 3000 world. Legacy is holding its own overall, but some platforms are more fixed in place than others.
Many legacy systems, though, share one common element that makes them continued ramparts. "The need for an integrated system is just as great as before," McDowell says. As one of the original group of HP 3000 Migration Partners in 2002, Speedware sold its customers on the advantage of having 100 percent referenceable projects. The Fresche customer base today is many times the size of Speedware's. "It's always been a part of our DNA to strive for 100 percent referenceability," McDowell says. "I never say 100 percent now, because I haven't talked to every customer."
Legacy is surviving in large measure because companies are facing what's called the succession problem. "It's the reality of the people who built and managed these systems," McDowell says. "There was often no succession plan."
To keep the legacy technology relevant, it's got to be modernized. Not everyone needs every aspect of modernization. For the a la carte shoppers, a subscription service can now take the place of capital expenses. IBM's Series i market is distinctive because it still enjoys the support of its creator. More than two thousand business partners and vendors still sell into that market. It's a multi-OS chip ecosystem, supporting a Unix variant, the AS400 environment, as well as mainframe-style systems.
There's proof that the HP 3000 remains in use as a legacy solution, McDowell says. Dun and Bradstreet Asset Reports still show a large number of companies reporting 3000s in service. "Companies still get value from these systems," she says. "They just need to figure out which pieces they will leverage."