Software Migration buyers guide

Even for the smallest of organisations, updating your IT infrastructure is not something to be approached lightly. However there are occasions when it becomes necessary. Your business may be expanding beyond the capabilities of your existing infrastructure, or you may be using software that is approaching its end-of-support date, after which its supplier will no longer provide security updates. Such systems are particularly vulnerable to hackers, while operating such software could invalidate your business insurance or contravene corporate or government regulations.

Migrating to more up-to-date software can also open up new opportunities. Software updates introduce new technologies and the option to move to new architectures that can open your business to new ways of working. You could, for example, move to virtual machines, which can make use of your existing hardware in a far more efficient fashion, or you could move systems out to the cloud, effectively outsourcing the problem.

Nevertheless, for organisations of any size, migrating to a new software platform is a major undertaking that needs careful planning. Start by dividing the exercise into four distinct steps, namely Discovery, Assessment, Targeting and Migration.

Assessment

The next stage is to assess the relative importance of each application to your business, both now and in the future. You also need to assess its complexity, and the options it offers for upgrading. Bespoke software in particular may be tied to a specific operating system or architecture.

Targeting

You now have the information you need to decide on a migration strategy for each application. Essentially, you have the following options:

  • Upgrade: You can choose to simply upgrade to the latest version of the software, without changing architecture at all. However that could well mean upgrading your hardware as well, to cope with the needs of a later version.
  • Virtualise: Upgrading to a modern operating system such as Windows Server 2012 allows you to move your applications to virtual machines. While not necessarily appropriate for all applications, virtual machines make more efficient use of the available hardware and can be backed up or even moved out to the cloud when you need more capacity. See our Buyers Guide on Server Virtualisation to explore this option in more detail.
  • Move to the cloud: Alternatively you can reduce much of the cost and stress of managing an in-house infrastructure by moving the problem to the cloud, paying a regular subscription to a third party in return for IT services delivered across the internet. Microsoft Azure can deliver cloud versions of SQL Server and Exchange which couple nicely with Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. There’s also Adobe Creative Cloud which keeps you up-to-date with a whole range of Adobe products in exchange for a monthly fee. Our article Reach for the Sky contains more information on Microsoft Azure and Office 365, while Creative Collaboration covers the Adobe solution.
  • Change vendor: In some cases it makes more sense to move to a new supplier for a particular application. You may, for example, decide that a Windows-based system fits better with your business model than your existing Linux-based system, or vice versa. Find out what software your competitors are using, and whether it gives them a competitive edge.
  • Rewrite: In the case of bespoke software, whether written in-house or by a third party, migration gives the option to rewrite, and to consider how the required functionality best be delivered. It may make sense, for example, to abandon a bespoke client and instead deliver the application across the web using the latest browser technology.
Migration

Finally, you need to build a migration plan, and assign tasks appropriately. Pay particular attention to the order in which changes are implemented, and make sure that everyone affected is informed and appropriately trained.

Tools

There are a number of general-purpose tools that can be particularly helpful here. If you are running a Windows-based system then Microsoft System Center effectively does the Discovery stage for you. Dell Software offers a number of tools including Asset Manager, ChangeAuditor, ChangeBase, Migration Manager and its Migration Suites. There’s also the Windows Server 2003 Migration Planning Assistant and the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit. Our Migration Tools article has more details.

End of Support Information

Microsoft has a searchable database of end-of-support dates. Particularly significant is the Extended Support Date, after which no security updates are issued. Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003, SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Project Server 2003 are already past this date. Windows Server 2003 reaches it on 14 July 2015 and Windows Vista on 11 April 2017. Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 both reach it on 14 January 2020.

Our article Time to Migrate looks in particular at strategies for migrating from Windows XP, Office 2003 and Windows Server 2003.

For their database products, middleware and applications, Oracle provide Premier Support for five years from the date a product becomes generally available, and you can purchase Extended Support which gives you a further three years, or Sustaining Support which covers you for a long as your licences last. Premier Support for Oracle Database 11.2 has already ended, while Extended Support ends January 2018. Premier Support for 12.1 ends July 2018. You can find further details in the document Oracle Lifetime Support Policy.

Software Migration service from Grey Matter

Grey Matter can help you manage your software migration process with a free Migration Analysis Scope Report that addresses the four steps of Migration. We can:

  • Conduct a server inventory detailing server specs and usage loads
  • Provide a Microsoft Azure VM sizing estimate
  • Collate a list of all detected workloads
  • Analyse target eligibility
  • Compile a report with a target recommendation and migration plan
  • Work with our preferred partner to complete the migration

We have the know how and expertise to help businesses of all sizes achieve a successful migration, whether the solution is on-premise, cloud-based or a combination of both.

Contact us +44 (0)1364 655 100 for more information.