Microsoft Software A Time to Deploy and a Time to Migrate

Develop the Right Strategy before You Dive In

Jeff Stork

Make sure strategy – not panic – is driving your migration. There is no better time to upgrade your Microsoft environment than today. The decision is easy, but executing can be a challenge. By keeping business strategy at the top of your objectives, you can assure best chance of best outcomes.

They say there is an appointed time for everything, and that includes your software. At some point you will have to migrate to newer, more powerful, flexible and secure – and perhaps even less-expensive – alternatives. While that is rarely an easy or enjoyable process, the military adage – proper planning and practice prevents poor performance – can make software migration a lot less painful.

The current poster child of why to migrate is Microsoft SQL Server 2005. With its official end of life (EOL) scheduled for April 12, 2016, millions of customers must select and deploy a replacement that addresses today’s business requirements that have changed drastically in the last decade, including explosive data growth, new data types, new demands, and new threats.

Many organizations have a tendency to procrastinate when it comes to migrations: the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” excuse. Using a related Microsoft example – Windows Server 2003, which had its EOL in April 2015 – a recent survey found that it’s still present in 60% of companies, in spite of no support or updates and numerous security issues. However, the survey did report that EOL and company growth/additional needs top the list for why organizations migrate their software.

From an additional needs perspective, cloud, mobility, social media, analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are rapidly transforming everything. In the emerging “digital economy” every company will increasingly be a software company, according to IDC. So software changes and upgrades will continue to drive the business agenda.

Now, for whatever reason, you’ve decided to make a software change. The first consideration should be creating the right strategy to ensure the process is as a painless as possible. There are four steps to a successful software migration strategy:

1. Discover which applications and workloads are running on the existing software.

2. Assess your infrastructure and categorize applications and workloads by type, importance, and degree of complexity.

3. Target a migration destination for each application and workload upon migration.

4. Migrate to your new software.

A key part of your strategy should be ensuring that your community of users are kept up-to-date on the proposed changes, when they will take place, and what will be done to ensure a speedy and successful changeover. This will include data migration, features and benefits, and workflows.

There are many reasons for migrating your software, and those reasons are expected to multiply and come with shorter and shorter time windows to react. In the digital economy, standing still is not an option. But with the appropriate strategy and resources in place – either internal or with a partner – migrating your software need not be the challenge it has been in the past.