‘Application migration’ isn’t usually a term that strikes joy into the hearts of enterprise IT folk. For most, it evokes painful memories of impossible deadlines, out-of-control projects, inexplicable bugs and glitches, unplanned all-night remediation sessions, and the mighty wrath of thousands of users who can’t get Excel to do that thing it used to do.
Small wonder that many businesses choose to cling on to the same OS and browser environment for as long as humanly possible. But sooner or later (sooner, if you’re one of the hundreds of enterprises still on XP), change must come. And when it does, the nightmare will return…
…or will it? Here at Camwood we’ve been banging the drum for years for a more enlightened approach to migration. We’ve conducted thousands of migrations for large UK businesses, and we know there are four rules to a painless – even, dare we say, enjoyable – project.
1. The path to enlightenment starts with knowledge
Show us a migration that’s run into difficulties, and we’ll show you a project that started without the right preparation. The key to an enlightened migration is to understand exactly what it is that’s being migrated over. In a large enterprise, the total number of applications – sanctioned and non-sanctioned – can run into the hundreds or thousands. Starting the migration without knowing what’s out there is asking for trouble straightaway. Running an audit and creating a detailed map of the current app estate can save months of work later on.
(We use our Camwood Survey tool for this job – it creates a complete and continuously updated map of all of your apps, so you always know what you have in the estate.)
2. You won’t miss what you don’t use
But knowing what’s there is only the start. Unless your team are super-keen on punishment, you probably don’t want to migrate hundreds of thousands of apps to the new platform – whether it’s a desktop OS/browser, server, virtual server or cloud infrastructure. A good chunk of your apps are probably obsolete, with no one (or hardly anyone) using them. Many will have similar or identical functionality to others in the estate, raising the question of whether they’re all really necessary. And some users may be licensed for functionality they don’t actually need, so they could be downgraded to a cheaper or free version of the same app. Migration is a great opportunity to clear out everything that’s no longer wanted or needed.
3. Avoid as much remediation as possible
You don’t need us to tell you that some applications won’t make it across. They’re too old, not compatible or not supported on the new platform. Some can be patched up with remediation, others won’t make it at all. Many aren’t worth the often-considerable effort involved. The key is to know in advance which ones will migrate OK, which ones will need work, and which ones aren’t worth it – and from there, to identify whether replacements need to be found and licensed.
The best tool we know for this task is Citrix App-DNA, which provides a complete, intuitive and drill-downable guide to which apps in the estate are compatible with the target platform – including any tricky dependencies that may exist between different apps.
4. Rationalise first, migrate second
If you’ve done all the things outlined above, you’re in an excellent position to rationalise the app estate before the migration starts, decommissioning any apps that are no longer needed, authorised or compatible with the new platform. Rationalising at this stage has three enormous benefits:
1) There are far, far fewer apps to bring across, so the migration project is faster, smoother and ought not to result in any last-minute panic remediations.
2) The ‘starting’ estate on the new platform is lean, mapped and manageable. (And with an application lifecycle management toolset like Camwood’s Application Lifecycle Manager, you can make sure it stays that way!)
3) You can save many thousands of pounds by getting rid of unused software licenses and ensuring users only have the functionality they need.
In our experience, organisations that take this enlightened path have very few problems when it comes to large-scale migrations. And the best thing is the work only has to be done once – if you use the right tools to map and manage the estate, by the time the next migration comes around you can simply breeze through it.
(Don’t believe us? Read how Tubelines migrated its entire estate to Windows 7 in just a few weeks, taking an Enlightened Migration approach.)
What’s in (app) store for the future?
And with the rising tide of BYOD and consumer apps bringing even more chaos to the enterprise landscape, there’s never been a better time to get the estate under control – even if you’re not planning a migration in the near future.
For more about Enlightened Migration, go to www.camwood.com/our-services/enlightened-migration, or contact us on +44 (0)20 7977 0999.