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Engineering Legacy Data is Hard. Here’s What to Do About It.

Have you ever tried to get two software systems to share information with each other? How about combining data from multiple systems into a shared repository like a data warehouse? What about converting application data to another database system as part of an upgrade? It’s a challenge even with modern systems. If any of these […]

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February 06, 2018

Have you ever tried to get two software systems to share information with each other? How about combining data from multiple systems into a shared repository like a data warehouse? What about converting application data to another database system as part of an upgrade? It’s a challenge even with modern systems. If any of these sources are legacy systems, the challenges can increase dramatically. Here are a few common pitfalls to data integration with legacy environments and how to mitigate them.

Drastically Different Data Stores and More of Them

Challenge
The first challenge in data integration is extraction from a variety of disparate data sources. This is also true with legacy systems, with complications increasing over time the system has been around.

Opportunity
Consolidate the source data into a single landing area, and start analysis as soon as possible. This standard procedure is even more crucial with legacy systems.

Legacy Software Contains Years of Technical Debt and Payback

Challenge
Technical debt is a normal part of software engineering projects, which can pay off the backlog over time. Data from those applications, however, must consider the whole backlog at once.

Opportunity
Take a holistic approach to understanding the application.

Computers Do Exactly What They Are Told

Challenge
As the saying goes “Garbage in, garbage out”. Whatever was allowed into the system at the time is the only record to work with. This parallels technical debt, in that it is often not worth spending resources to correct every erroneous entry in the system.

Opportunity
Much like working with technical debt, this needs to be done holistically with help from the customer.

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