Migration Motivators

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Now that we've explained what migrations and upgrades are, we need to investigate what prompts them to occur. Unfortunately, the reasons for migrating or upgrading are diverse and plentiful. However, they can be broadly categorized as either originating internally within the organization or being thrust upon an organization by external forces.

Internal business and technical motivators for migrations and upgrades include the following:

  • Business process changes. Because most IT environments exist to support a specific business and its processes, it is natural that any changes to those processes might require changes to the supporting environment. Most likely, this will trigger an upgrade when an application can add a feature to support the change or a migration when a new solution might be necessary to support the change.

  • Business reorganizations. Most companies are in near-constant states of organizational flux as they try to maximize profits and minimize overhead in competitive and turbulent economic environments. When a reorganization occurs, the affected business unit's computational support needs often change, prompting retirements of some applications, migrations of others, and the introduction of still others.

  • Changes to corporate standards or strategies. Today's business dependence on information technology has escalated the rate of vendor change and partnering within many organizations. As one vendor's application or platform is replaced by strategic partnering with another vendor, migration projects will be generated. For example, an organization might standardize its software infrastructure on a Sun ¢ ONE software stack.

  • Retirement. All technology has a finite useful life. Whether this life is based on maintenance issues or the availability of more cost-effective competing solutions, all technology is eventually retired . This retirement usually prompts a migration. Examples abound in the IT industry. For example, mainframe technology is rapidly being replaced by less expensive open -systems technology like that provided by the Sun Fire ¢ 15K platform.

  • Opportunities to improve solution quality. Many IT solutions fail to deliver their desired benefit to the business. Over time, the business becomes dissatisfied with the solution and embarks on migrating to a new one. This usually occurs only when an implemented solution consistently fails to meet the service levels or functionality required by a business.

  • Introduction or retirement of new business products. Like business process change, this driver is the introduction or elimination of a product or service that requires IT support. An example would be adding new modules to an enterprise resource planning application.

  • Desire to take advantage of new functionality. Technology is constantly improving. Much of the focus of this improvement is centered on adding functionality to products. Some new functionality can enable new business opportunities or better support existing business processes. For example, when backup-software companies added "warm backup" technology to their products, users could decrease maintenance downtime and increase business availability, prompting many organizations to migrate to this new technology.

  • Opportunities to reduce risk. Organizations constantly monitor risks to their profits and survival. With the enormous role that IT solutions play in this survival, it is not surprising that companies migrate away from risky IT solutions. Whether this means they deploy platforms that are more highly available, implement new failover technology, or move away from unsupported products, businesses can migrate to avoid risk. This was never more true than during the pre-Y2K migration frenzy of the late 1990s. While many organizations were relatively sure that their applications would not be affected by the changeover, a large number took the opportunity to migrate off the mainframe platform to reduce their risk.

External pressures also prompt migrations and upgrades. External pressure usually comes from a partner or vendor. The most common external causes of migrations or upgrades include the following:

  • Reaching a technology's "end of life. " Many technology vendors , especially in the software market, build their businesses around upgrade revenues . As part of this business strategy, older versions of their products are deemed to be at the end of their useful lives as newer versions are introduced. This "end of life" (EOL) categorization often signals an impending lack of vendor support (through lack of vendor patches or spare parts ) or an increased maintenance cost, which pushes customers to migrate to newer versions or different products.

  • Availability of complementary products. Few IT solutions are entirely encompassed by one product. More likely, they are a mesh of compatible products that are combined to meet a business need. For example, consider the case in which a company needing enterprise financial support has implemented an accounting package, developed in house on its Digital VAX under OpenVMS. As the company moves to an intranet deployment and wants to add web front ends to the package, it might face the possibility of having to migrate applications, hardware, and operating environments because few web server packages could interface with its proprietary application, hardware, network, and operating system.

  • Opportunities to reduce cost. It might simply be too expensive for a company to continue to maintain a solution they currently use. By "too expensive," we mean that competing solutions offer a significant savings over the implemented solution. Costs might be incurred through a myriad of different areas including maintenance contracts, staffing, product acquisitions, or environmental factors. Whatever the specific reason, in this case a migration is undertaken in the hopes that after the migration project investment, the new solution will deliver lower costs over its useful life.

  • Improvements to product quality. Just as vendors constantly add new functionality, they also improve the basic systemic qualities of their products. Most new products provide better performance, fail less often, and are more flexible to deploy.

  • Managing competitive pressures. Like the internal driver for increasing functionality or lowering costs, competitive pressures can force organizations to change their technology solutions to compete in the marketplace . This was evident in the banking industry when many banks upgraded their systems to interoperate with web banking solutions, which allowed bank account holders to view their balances over the Internet.

  • Managing regulatory pressures. New government of industry regulations might ban certain processes, alter business practices, or prescribe new rules regarding a current solution. The only avenue to compliance with the new regulations might be to migrate or upgrade technology, people, or processes. Examples of such regulatory changes would be the United States HIPPA laws or European Union privacy rules.

As you can see from the preceding discussion, many of the drivers for a migration project complement each other. In fact, most migration projects have several drivers. Whether your migration drivers are internal or external, it is important to identify these drivers so that addressing them can be one of your project's objectives.

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Migrating to the Solaris Operating System
Migrating to the Solaris Operating System: The Discipline of UNIX-to-UNIX Migrations
ISBN: 0131502638
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 70

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