Posted on Apr 16th 2012

Enterprise risk management is a recent (but quickly maturing) science that tries to quantify the vulnerabilities and threats of operational changes in business environments, and take measures to ensure continuity. For information technology, these risks usually entails disaster recovery, security, theft and exploits. It is rare, however, that IT management gives the same sense of urgency to large scale infrastructure, platform or enterprise application "End of Life" (EOL). That is, until you’re the one having to deal with all the far-reaching fallout of that seeming innocuous phrase.

You think everything is going fine in your IT department, and it probably is. You’re a proud, card-carrying member of your vendor’s cool-kids club. But, as you whistle your way down the hall someone throws a grenade in your wheelhouse with those dreaded words from your friendly big data software salesman: "EOL."

Your day, your week, your month, your year just got a LOT more complicated. You’ve spent the last months and years (and untold sums of cash) working with your vendors to customize and optimize your systems. It was all going peachy. Now, your support is being cut off and you’re being asked to migrate to the latest and greatest thing. Not only will it cost you a ton of cash, but you may come out the other side with more than just graying hair. And what will you get for your trouble? A reset back to ground zero waiting for the next EOL call in 3-5 years.

What makes end of sinister is the process; we seem to find ourselves trapped in a downward spiral. You are sold a large-scale system from a trusted fortune 100 company. You are told your operations are unique enough to require special customization to optimize for your needs. You build mission critical systems on top and add more customization. Every step you make takes you deeper into the belly of the beast. You get all the knowhow, support and love to build this wonderful thing. Until your mistress dumps you, that is. But she told me she loved me and we've been together for years and you said you were the only one for me and... well, enough about my personal life. I digress.

This "dumping" scenario is typical of how many companies deal with large software entities; at some point, vendors stop supporting their own software and you are asked to switch from one temperamental mistress to another. For example, IBM has announced they will no longer support WSAD and WebSphere 6 technologies. Why? Some will tell you the technology has gotten better and you need new stuff (to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars and the royal pain of migration). The marketplace will tell you those companies need reoccurring revenue and old products are slipping in the sales numbers. Both are perhaps correct. I may be a cynic, but to suggest that these big data companies solely construct these elaborate migration merry go round as a conspiracy to take over our planet... now that’s just silly.

Oracle recently discontinued support for SQL Developer 1.5.1, and they held a webinar explaining why customers need to buy new support contracts for "better security" around the latest release affords. While it can be true that better security is needed, sometimes it's a not-so-veiled ploy to get more money from customers who are happy with their licensed technologies, but the vendor is just pursuing sales opportunities.

No matter the organization or tool, the reality is that many large corporations – maybe yours - are standardized on "legacy" technologies, and those technologies are responsible for mission-critical applications and services that you provide to your customers.

Of course, you CAN stay on old tools, but the risk is high: if something goes wrong, the phone lines are dead for you. "You should have upgraded a while ago, sorry," you’ll hear. Now, you're stuck with old technology and no lifeline. The risk of that happening is unacceptable, so in some ways these big software companies are forcing you to pay them to stay in business. Obviously, this doesn’t give you warm, fuzzy feelings.

But on the other hand, migrating an app server - like WebSphere or Weblogic for example - is no trivial task, with iceberg-like hidden gotchas along the way. The migration can take years in some cases. Again, very few warm fuzzies are being felt.

So what is a company to do? Can this problem be solved? Perhaps not on the whole, but in part by adding a third option that can open doors to choices you didn’t know you had.

Think about this, the next time you're installing new enterprise software: "Is there a way out of this vendor lock-in to save more money and even my head of hair?"

The answer is yes.

It's not a huge step, but can potentially save you millions of dollars right away. Yes, millions.

Try this: instead of installing the newest IBM RAD release, try installing MyEclipse Blue Edition instead. It does the same thing as RAD and WSAD, but here's the kicker – MyEclipse Blue supports all new AND old WebSphere technologies. And all Eclipse, MyEclipse and RAD project structures.

There’s no heavy-handed migration path on the software side dealing with incompatible XYZ features, and no koolaid to drink; just one, easy environment for all RAD and WSAD customers. (Hint: it supports Tomcat, WebLogic, JBoss and has about 35 server connectors too - a true migration powerhouse)

There’s a small, warm fuzzy for a change.

This means if you want to keep using WebSphere 6, then Genuitec will allow you to with its MyEclipse Blue technology. If you want to use WebSphere 8, we’ve got you covered too - in one IDE that supports it all.

Even more warm fuzzies.

What if you want to deploy your project to a completely new environment that has nothing to do with WebSphere? Like Tomcat, JBoss, Weblogic or anything else? Yes, sir.

You will now be buried in warm fuzzies, allowing your app server migration to be accomplished a bit more comfortably on your own schedule.

As for the actual app server… can we make your migration go away? Perhaps not. There will likely come time to upgrade - but we can help you with further choices there. If you’re tired of your old app server company and you’re willing to go through an upgrade process, it’s actually possible to leave them behind completely.

Imagine this: taking legacy RAD projects from 2008 and deploying them to a new, more open app server (as in, NOT WebSphere) in 2013. Yes, very possible and being done today by leading companies.

To be transparent, this is Genuitec’s sales opportunity: to support mission-critical, end-of-life technologies so that enterprises don't have to worry about the next great software kill-off. And we’re inexpensive too: MyEclipse Blue is $159 per license annually. Not the thousands paid for WSAD or RAD or other software tools.

Consider this your opportunity to take baby steps out of the end-of-life racket by switching from vendor lock-in to an open source friendly, fully supported technology that is MyEclipse Blue Edition. No, it won’t save the IT universe. But it can save a few sleepless nights in the short-term, and set you up for success further down the road.

After all, getting choices during your software EOL is like getting a rope thrown to you as you sink in quicksand. The first step is to get out. Then you’re free to decide where in this IT jungle to go next.