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Why decommission?

Morgan T. Lee As a Business Analyst, I have been involved in many application replacement projects. I gather the requirements from the client and hand over the BRD to the developers. The new application is created, tested, deployed, and the old application is deactivated. The client did not want to pay to have the old system decommissioned or have the old data migrated to the new system, but they want it kept around in case the data is ever needed. Not decommissioning can actually end up costing the client more money. There are many costs and risks associated to keeping an application and it’s data after it has been deactivated.

Decommissioning is the retirement and removal of applications, source code, data, and related elements. Just revoking access to a database or not using an application for a set period does not qualify as decommissioning and it is still possible for someone to access the application data if they have the right resources.
Decommissioning can help reduce cost, reduce errors, and minimize unnecessary activities.

If a server contains an inactive application, that space could be used for an active application thus reducing the need to purchase additional equipment. A company may still have to pay for a license or maintenance fees for inactive applications and they may still have to patch or upgrade the servers, or operating systems that support the inactive applications.

An inactive application may contain out of date information, out of sync information, erroneous data, or changes in privacy laws may leave an inactive database vulnerable to individuals that could exploit that information.

Removing the application and data as part of the current project will save time and money. It is easier to remove the application when the people involved are familiar with the application and locations of the source code and data. The longer it takes to remove something the greater the risk that people are unaware of where things are located. People move on to new projects and may be unavailable to provide support for the removal of an application. Decommissioned applications do not require upgrades, license fees, maintenance fees, patching, or support documentation to be updated and maintained.

When is the best time to decommission?
When applications are no longer being used;
When applications are flagged as inactive;
When data has been migrated from an old system;
When retention periods have expired; and
When applications are scheduled to be replaced or retired.

Project work should include a phase to identify the application elements and dates to decommission. Decommissioning should be an important part of the SDLC. Decommissioning should be included for all projects where applications are retired or replaced. Decommissioning reduces operating costs, reduces errors, and reduces unnecessary activities. Decommissioning just makes sense and it can save you a few dollars.

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