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The Migration Fear Factor

When IT managers are faced with a migration of business-critical applications and databases to a new environment, most of them don’t think—they worry. While migration is not always easy, it’s still a necessity sometimes. Regardless, organizations tend to hold off on any migration discussion for as long as possible. Few want to enter the unknown or upset the applecart.

Migration shouldn’t be feared. Armed with knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes can dispel any anxiety and clear the fog surrounding migrations. After all, you’re only moving your applications and not undergoing a complete transformation. In most cases, you’ll get to keep and run your current applications—with the benefit of a newer and more robust environment.


Risks and Challenges

Migrating may not be technically challenging work; however, such an engagement can become complex due to a lack of experience in assessment or proper planning. Organizations often share similar concerns:

Technical risks—Considering the magnitude of the migration involved, the question that naturally arises is if the project is at all feasible. This issue may be compounded if third-party products or software are involved. The compatibility of these products on the target environment can pose a concern.

Costs—IT departments already stretched by maintenance costs find it difficult to devote more funds to a large-scale migration. Also, they wonder if a positive ROI can be realized or if migration will be done within the budget.

Schedule—Migrating business- and mission-critical applications poses a major challenge because they usually have a limited maintenance window and can’t be taken down for an extended period. However, some downtime will be required to cut over to a new system as part of the migration.

Performance of the new systems—A major question most organizations face when it comes to migration is if their applications will perform at par, if not better, in the new environment.

Implementation challenges—These include the availability of required skills and technology to accomplish the migration. Resource availability is sometimes a hurdle in these circumstances.

As with any engagement, migration has its own risks and challenges. The key lies in understanding the process to mitigate and reducing the risk when moving applications from one platform to another. Focusing on tools, metrics and automation can also help reduce the cost of migration.


Factors influencing Migrations

Although migration seems like a daunting task, organizations find many reasons to consider it. Often, the benefits of migrating business-critical systems far outweigh the risks. One such benefit is refreshing technology. Old and obsolete technology needs a periodic refresh. Over time, hardware might start giving you trouble or the systems themselves might lose their support. Technology modernization is an ongoing process—and usually is needed to maintain the performance of critical applications.

Another benefit is server consolidation. Organizations might opt for this to leverage the benefits of virtualization. This can dramatically reduce costs, improve overall resource utilization and offer more streamlined maintenance.

The quality of existing vendor support often plays an important role in the need to migrate. Other vendor-related issues—like uncertainties in future innovations and lack of clarity in product sustainability or roadmaps—can also prompt a migration.

Reduced cost is another potential benefit of a migration. Rising maintenance costs can prompt organizations to rethink continuing the existing platforms. A different environment offering a more lucrative cost benefit might attract the organization to shift to a better alternative.

Occasionally an organization’s own strategic direction may call for a shift from one technology or vendor to another. Mergers and acquisitions can change the competitive scenario, which in turn, might lead to a large-scale technology migration.

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