Legacy applications still have a very real business value, and that comes with the cost (and headache) of maintaining the underlying platform (hardware and operating system). Once extended support for the platform is no longer available, these systems become a liability. Operating system bug fixes and security patches are no longer available, and hardware replacement parts may be scarce, which poses a tremendous security risk to the entire organization. While it might be possible to replace or refactor some applications running on these platforms, the costs and challenges can often be prohibitive. This puts organizations in a tough spot.
A Modern Approach to a Legacy Problem: Containerization
Containers, while not a new technology, have taken off like wildfire over the past few years, having evolved to meet modern demand. Containers are paving the way in how applications are packaged, distributed and executed in private, hybrid and public cloud environments. Unlike virtual machines, which employ hardware virtualization and contain a full operating system, containers provide "just enough" runtime (libraries and other dependencies), to run most applications. This has a couple of advantages: First, it facilitates the decoupling of an application from its underlying operating system, which is helpful when that operating system is end of life. Second, it provides a highly portable, common format in which an application can run, allowing for a containerized application to run or move anywhere, avoiding issues like vendor lock-in.
Containers enable organizations to safely migrate their applications off older platforms, without modification, into a production ready, supported environment, facilitating the legacy systems to be properly retired.
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About the Author
Matt is a Partner & Technical Leader specializing in Hybrid Cloud and Infrastructure at HighVail Systems. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org