How to Take Back Control of Legacy Windows Server Applications

Not sure why control was lost? It could be because:

  • operational outsourcing became a trend in the Great Recession of 2008;
  • turnover of IT staff is high, and many original developers and owners of legacy applications retired or left;
  • applications aged and corporate amnesia developed.

Regardless, most organizations have lost control and know little about the core legacy Windows Server applications that run their business.

Today, IT teams are often in the dark about the applications installed on legacy servers. They don’t know which are still used, which are broken, or how much disk storage, memory or processor workload each app requires. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who hold most of the knowledge about applications, are often contractors who don’t work for the organization on a full-time basis. These SMEs frequently inherited the app from a previous app owner.

With so little app knowledge, it’s no surprise that organizations are reluctant to move legacy applications from obsolete W2K, WS2003, and WS2008 environments and re-install and run them on modern WS2012, WS2016, and WS2019 servers. The IT teams have no idea where to start nor how to begin learning about legacy applications. It seems insurmountable to move these apps to new servers and to remediate and modernize them. The IT infrastructure is frozen in the past.

Today, if you’ve lost control of IT, you’ve lost control of one of the crown jewels that lets your organization compete.

Here are two vital steps that will let you take back control of legacy apps and start the remediation or redevelopment process on new, modern Windows Servers.

Take back control Step 1: Monitor your apps

You can’t take back control without information and knowledge. The first step in regaining app control is to use automated monitoring to get a “full picture” of your IT infrastructure and applications. Monitoring gives you insights into the entire application portfolio used within your IT environment or on individual computers. It offers insight into what’s running on specific servers, who is using which applications, and how applications are being used. The only effective way to monitor is using intelligent software to dynamically discover apps.

What does application monitoring get you? It lets you track:

  • applications that are being used on specific servers;
  • the users who are using the applications, and when they’re using them;
  • which functions or features of an application are used;
  • the dataflows between applications on different servers;
  • dependencies between applications running on different servers.

Monitoring gives you visibility into apps that are no longer being used, so you can decommission them. It also shows which apps are in high demand and may need a server upgrade, and which apps might be candidates to move to the Cloud.

Monitoring helps size applications and discovers how much memory, storage, and processing will be needed to move apps to new VMs or servers. Intelligent app monitoring shows all the dependencies and stack components that need to move. Monitoring is the first step in re-establishing control over your apps. It’s a first step in developing a plan to modernize your app stacks. The entire process of modernizing and moving applications becomes much simpler and easier.

Take back control Step 2: Get a stateful re-install of legacy apps on modern servers

Re-installing legacy apps on new servers is a critical step if you want to move forward with application remediation or redevelopment. Re-installing extends the useful life of legacy apps. You don’t need install scripts. If you need functional improvements, you can plan and address them over time, as your budget permits, using a conventional change management process in a modern server environment.

There are many advantages to a stateful re-install of legacy applications on a new server with a modern operating system. Benefits include:

  • Closing known security exposures on old W2K, WS2003, and WS2008 servers.
  • Eliminating WannaCry and NotPetya malware risks. New hardware also closes Spectre and Meltdown security holes. Your apps will run on a supported OS and your IT audit and compliance teams will be happy.
  • New hardware that improves performance. New servers run faster. You’ll get more work done with your existing apps.
  • It allows applications to be split and installed on separate servers or apps can be consolidated and installed on a single server. You can reconfigure where apps run.
  • Some application software components, such as IIS and SQL, can be upgraded on-the-fly for new servers.
  • It reduces application clutter, cleans up log files, eliminates unnecessary apps, and lets you run modern datacenter, VM, or cloud management tools. It also reduces OS patch management.
  • Most importantly, a stateful re-install doesn’t break your configuration. The apps still work on the new servers and modern operating systems. Plus, you get to undertake remediation using all the dev tools available on a modern OS.

You’re just two steps away from taking back control and regaining organizational agility and competitiveness. If you want to take back control of legacy Windows Server applications or would like to understand more about how VirtaMove can help you move forward, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are pleased to share our domain expertise and what we know.