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The Risk of Running Legacy Database Technology

Author: Shailesh Rangani | 5 min read | April 8, 2021

End of Life comes for most technology, and your databases are no exception. When you’re used to working with a particular version of your database, such as PostgreSQL 9.5, and have built your organization’s applications around it, upgrading to more modern editions may be resource intensive. However, the risks of running legacy database technology are more costly when you consider all the implications.

Increased Vulnerability to Security Exploits

When your database technology no longer receives security patches, new exploits remain on your systems. Over time, you end up with a database that has many attractive attack surfaces for a cybercriminal. They can use this opportunity for a data breach or use this vulnerability as a steppingstone to access other parts of your network.

Your IT security team would have increased demands on their time, as they have to spend more resources monitoring your systems for unusual activity and signs of an attack. As cyber criminals develop new ways to hack the database, they could end up using approaches that are increasingly harder to detect through advanced threat detection and other solutions.

No More Bug Fixes

Are you running into bugs from your legacy database that makes it difficult or impossible to use your applications? Unless you’re able to solve the problem yourself or see if someone else in the development community for that database technology has a workaround, you could lose vital functionality.

Over time, you end up with a system that is highly inefficient. It could be prone to crashing or lack functionality that is required for changes in daily business operations. The unexpected downtime can cause many schedules to get off-track and impact your revenue.

Difficulty in Hiring Specialists

The older a database version is, the harder it is to find specialists who are proficient in the system. IT recruiting is challenging enough when it comes to the latest database technology. When you want to bring in someone capable of working on a 5–10-year-old implementation of the database, you’re going to spend a lot of time looking for talent.

If you’re unable to find someone with hands-on experience working with that particular database version, you’ll have to hire someone capable of learning it from the ground up. If the candidate is used to the latest features of that database, then they have to get used to doing without many important capabilities.

Decreased Business Agility

What does your time to market look like when it comes to solutions powered by an old database? Compare this pace to the latest database versions, especially if your competitors have upgraded. A lack of agility results in many types of opportunity costs, which have an indirect impact on your bottom line.

Some examples of the opportunities you miss out on due to old database technology include:

  • Inability to integrate with new solutions: As new technology launches and offers productivity increases, your old database may not be able to work with new data types, schemas, and other innovations.
  • The competition launching products before your organization: The productivity decreases associated with solutions that are slow or crash due to outdated technology can put you behind your competition’s release schedule. When they’re first to market, they can better position themselves as the best choice in the market sector.
  • Decreased interest among job applicants: If your organization is known for being behind on technology, you may lose out on talent that prefers more tech-forward companies. Your turnover rates may also be affected when internal systems are difficult to work with.
  • Poor customer experience: The client-facing experience also suffers from old databases. Your customers may not be able to access the data that they need to make decisions, or they could become frustrated if their interactions are slow and poor quality.

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