More than a quarter (27 percent) of UK businesses are unable to take advantage of new agile infrastructure that can scale to their needs because they are constrained by existing legacy systems, according to research from business consultancy Accenture.

For its "Agile IT" research Accenture questioned 500 technology and business executives in the UK with responsibility for managing revenues and cost in their organisation.

Agile IT promises organisations the ability to scale IT resources up and down to rapidly meet changing user and customer needs, reduce costs and help bring new products and services to the market quicker through variable computing resources. According to 75 percent of the Accenture survey respondents, Agile IT could save businesses nearly one-third of their IT costs.

But the research also shows that legacy systems are causing a number of cost and flexibility issues, as businesses face challenges in managing the agility of new cloud solutions versus the rigidity of core legacy infrastructure and applications.

Almost half (45 percent) of respondents said they need to modernise or replace legacy systems, which are impediments to rapidly and flexibly meeting changing user or customer needs. More than half (66 percent) of the technology executives questioned forecast that up to 30 percent of their IT budget is expected to support legacy systems over the next two years.

Furthermore, 80 percent of organisations revealed that they do not have a fully developed application retirement roadmap, an essential ingredient for successfully moving to agile IT.

"CIOs and other technology executives face tough questions about what to do with their legacy infrastructure and software applications portfolio," said Stephen Nunn, managing director for the infrastructure consulting group at Accenture.

"IT executives seeking to accelerate their journey to a more agile IT environment need to work closely with their business counterparts to determine whether to sustain, consolidate, modernise or retire each application that supports a core business function," said Nunn.

Nunn said conducting an "application rationalisation exercise based on the usual criteria", but also specific agile IT principles and suitability for cloud technology, would identify the best course of action and enable the benefits of agile IT to be realised.

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