Application Retirement – What Is It? And How Does It Work?

Application Retirement is also known as application decommissioning. It deals with the actions that must carry out to stop using specific applications without losing access to the data they maintain in their databases.


What is Application Retirement?


More specifically, application retirement is the practice of dismantling redundant or outdated business applications without losing access to their historical data. Legacy applications are often only maintained to provide infrequent or sporadic access to data within the application database for legal or business purposes.


Application retirement (sometimes also called application decommissioning or application sunsetting) is a process of shutting down obsolete, ‘dinosaur’ applications while migrating data they contain to standardized archives where this information will always be accessible. Some organizations spend more than 75% of their software budgets on ongoing maintenance so that application retirement can deliver significant cost savings.


Application retirement typically involves migrating data from the legacy application database to another data repository or archive store that can be accessed independently using standard business intelligence or reporting tools.


Application retirement enables enterprise IT departments to reduce the software, hardware, and resources required to manage legacy data.


Main reasons to adopt an Application Retirement Strategy


Forrester identified upgrading and modernizing legacy applications, upgrading packaged applications, and consolidating or streamlining enterprise applications as three of the top four software issues facing IT organizations.


Application retirement is essential in enabling organizations to streamline and modernize application portfolios.


Here are the main reasons companies are adopting app retirement strategies:

  • Cost reduction. Application retirement allows application and hardware and software support and is not required. This eliminates recurring costs, such as application licensing, maintenance, and administration costs, representing significant potential savings. Also noteworthy are space savings and reduced power consumption in the data centre when applications are retired.
  • Application Consolidation. Many of these legacy applications are redundant systems. For example, many companies have 10 or more legacy financial systems acquired from predecessor companies or left behind after implementing new applications. These systems are often compartmentalized, running incompatible packages and versions of software. Moving data to a commonly accessible repository simplifies investigation, auditing, and reporting across systems.
  • Compliance with industry regulations and legal requirements. Sarbanes-Oxley, GDPR, make companies nervous about complying with corporate data retention policies. Keeping legacy applications active to access information is an expensive proposition. Also, the result of a “do nothing” approach is to save the data forever, which is not feasible. During application retirement, data is classified, assigned retention policies, and disposed of by your data governance initiatives.
  • Risk reduction. Relying on the skills of business and IT analysts to manage legacy systems that are 10 to 20 years old or more is problematic. Finding consultants or even the vendor that created and supported the application may not be possible. The lack of IT staff familiar with the application increases the potential risk of late responses to audits. Pulling data from the application onto a common platform that allows access through standard reporting tools makes it easy to leverage the skills you have current investments in. This allows you to respond to any audit request.


Strategies for Application Retirement


Organizations reviewing their application portfolio for the first time often find hundreds of applications that are candidates for decommissioning.


But because it’s impossible to retire hundreds of apps at once, companies must develop a strategy for deciding which apps and data should be retired and when.


1. Priority-based application removal:

Starting with applications that generate the most significant cost savings optimizes the value of the application retirement initiative by freeing up budget and resources. Tying savings to hardware expiring maintenance contracts is an optimal approach, as much of the cost savings can be realized immediately.


One of the challenges of application retirement is the lack of functional knowledge about application retirement. But success will be more likely to start with legacy applications whose functionality and reporting requirements are understood. It also helps build a business case for checking out other applications.


2. Complete app removal or selective data retention:

Application retirement best practices suggest archiving all data while maintaining online access to data through your preferred reporting tool. Keeping all data accessible from an online archive allows the organization to avoid lengthy analyses from the start. This is the most straightforward process and can be implemented quickly, accelerating savings.


For organizations that clearly understand the application’s data model and retention requirements, selective data retention can be implemented in advance or applied after the application has been retired. In either case, using a best-in-class application retirement solution gives an organization the option of full retirement or selective retention.


3. Removal of applications of questionable or limited value:

In a scenario where the commercial value of an app is marginal, retirement is a sensible strategy. The organization saves costs by shutting down the legacy application while preserving its data. The ability to add relationships between application data, even after retirement, protects the business if this data needs to be accessed later.


Ideal characteristics of an Application Retirement solution


Application retirement requires sophisticated data modeling, extraction, retrieval, validation, and retention capabilities. Because of this, organizations are better off looking for a vendor with a proven solution. An application retirement solution must provide the following capabilities:

  • Model the data in the legacy application
  • Discover unknown data relationships
  • Create retention policies that define what data should be removed
  • Extract the data with its full application context
  • Index the data for efficient searching
  • Validate the completeness and accuracy of the withdrawn data
  • Provide application-independent access and reporting
  • Guarantee the immutability of the withdrawn data and ensure its access only by privileged users
  • Enforcement of retention and deletion policies at the application, entity, or record group level, based on regulatory and organizational requirements
  • Audit all accesses and any actions against withdrawn data (changes in retention or disposition policies and legal hold)


Because each organization has unique requirements for application retirement, the choice of a software solution must often include a substantial component for services.


It is advisable to give the highest consideration to vendors with extensive experience archiving large volumes of structured application data, proven project management capabilities, and best implementation practices.


Docbyte for application retirement


Docbyte for application retirement manages the entire lifecycle of content in database applications. The solution consists of the following products that meet the complete requirements for an application retirement project:

  • Docbyte Data Archive
  • Docbyte Discovery Option
  • Docbyte Data Validation Option


Together, these products are designed to meet the challenges of application retirement by providing enhanced capabilities:

  1. Discovery, classification, and extraction of business records
  2. Validation of archived data
  3. Easy, secure and standardized access to retired data
  4. Efficient data compression and implementation of tiered storage strategies
  5. Compliance with data retention and privacy regulations


1. Discovery, classification, and extraction of business records:

The Docbyte solution for application retirement provides data modelling techniques that allow you to classify and extract subsets of related data representing the business object.


The original context of the business object is preserved in an audit-ready format that is easily accessible for compliance and business needs. It also allows the creation of different relationships between data for future analysis.


Suppose information about the relationship between tables and records is not stored in the source system or known to functional experts. In that case, the Docbyte discovery option can infer table relationships and business entities based on discovered relationships.


Knowledge about data relationships is essential in setting retention policies for related records and determining how will access the data.


2. Validation of archived data:

Docbyte’s data validation option lets you quickly validate that the data archive process is complete and correct by defining business rules to compare the archived data with the data in the original application.


Defining validation rules eliminates the need to write SQL scripts to perform data comparisons, ultimately increasing productivity.


Discrepancies between the file and the source system are noted in the report output, which can use later for review and audit purposes.


3. Easy, secure, and standardized access to retired data:

Docbyte Data Archive offers several ways to ensure that retired data is adequately protected and remains accessible on demand during the ordinary course of business, as well as for audits and e-discovery. Docbyte technology offers several options for accessing and protecting retired data:

  • Withdrawn application data can be searched based on keyword search and business entities, with full application context, from the Docbyte Data Archive data discovery portal.
  • Custom reports can be created and saved for reuse using built-in data visualization capabilities.
  • Cad, through standard interfaces, such as ODBC / JDBC and SQL, can access data through enterprise reporting tools, such as Crystal Reports and MicroStrategy.


4. Efficient data compression and implementation of tiered storage strategies:

Docbyte Data Archive converts the retired data into a highly compressed file format, producing up to 95 per cent and higher compression. Data is fully indexed to support SQL queries and keyword searches while reducing storage capacity requirements. Also, the file can be stored in an inexpensive storage tier because the retired data is accessed infrequently and is typically never modified.


As a result, organizations can save costs and free up high-speed storage for more critical business needs.


5. Compliance with data retention and privacy regulations:

Docbyte Data Archive offers a comprehensive set of features to ensure that retired data is protected and retained for the period specified by applicable regulations.


The policy engine enforces retention policies assigned to retired data, from the highest level of applications down to the granular level of log groups. It then purges the data when the retention period expires so that it is not retained beyond a period that could pose a legal risk.


Legal retention capabilities are also available to ensure that data relevant to a legal case is preserved even if the retention period has expired.


At the same time, e-discovery and reporting capabilities ensure that retired data remains accessible during an audit. Integration with third-party e-discovery solutions is also available through open APIs.


In conclusion


What makes Docbyte’s application retirement solution unique is its foundation: the industry-leading Docbyte Platform. This comprehensive, open, unified, and affordable platform offers a one-stop shop for application retirement and provides a comprehensive library of connectors for various applications and databases.


Docbyte has years of experience as an industry leader with validated customer satisfaction and loyalty ratings. Data archives are meant to support a rapid rate of technological change, so your data archive provider must do so.

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