Legacy systems (mainly mainframes) are commonplace within insurance carriers; applications and processes designed years ago keep chugging away — not that's there anything wrong with that.

But maintaining data within these older systems does create issues down the road, especially when policy information needs to be revisited, upgraded or renewed. Or when it's time to migrate to a new system. Trying to convert the data can be an ugly process. Some insurers even opt to just go on paying to keep the older mainframe running in a corner somewhere, for the sole purpose of not losing the data.

David Besemer, chief technology officer of Composite Software, has a way to free data still trapped within legacy systems: data virtualization. Data virtualization, as the terms suggests, abstracts underlying data into newer, more flexible middleware, which is then accessible to any and all other systems. Data, in essence, is decoupled from servers and storage. It also makes migration off a legacy system a whole lot less risky.

Granted, David speaks for a vendor that is in the business of data virtualization. Still, his words of advice are instructional for anyone contemplating a move off their legacy system, and wants to do it with as little pain as possible. If you're a life insurer, for example, you don't want to put 50 years of policyholder information at risk, have it unavailable for any length of time, or keep it trapped in the mainframe you have to keep running in the server room.

Here are the advantages of virtualizing data before you make a migration move:

1. Migrate all legacy data — no matter how complex, big or old.

2. Transition diverse sources and/or consumers

3. Deploy without impacting business processes

4. Ensure reporting continuity

5. Complete your migration effort quickly

6. Get productive faster

7. Keep data secure

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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