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Science and Technology Innovation Authors: Salvatore Genovese, Jason Stowe, Bryan O'Rourke, Dmitriy Stepanov, John Savageau

Related Topics: Cloud Computing, Infrastructure On Demand, SaaS Journal, Azure Cloud on Ulitzer, IT as a Service, Platform as a Service


How PaaS Drives Innovation

Why software upgrades are costly for enterprises

Allocation of IT Budget - Innovation vs Lights on Support
Several studies conducted on IT budget allocations, point to the fact that:

  • 75% of its IT budget is on maintenance.
  • 25% is spent on new business capabilities and innovation

In typical enterprises we see that software upgrades to COTS (Common of the Shelf) or custom developed applications built on top of enterprise software take a major portion of the efforts that is spent on the maintenance activities.

Why Software Upgrades Are Costly for Enterprises
Most enterprise software vendors are sincerely trying that their products be backward compatible with the earlier releases, so that when the customers trying to upgrade their applications the effort spent is relatively less. However this process is not as smooth as it looks like, due to the following reasons.

The software products are best upgraded without much issues between N-1 to N Version, however due to the typical way the maintenance contracts are written, most enterprises were not in a position to keep their software versions to the current version or to the previous version

  • Changes in the technology, frame works and perceived best practices make the software vendors some time make fundamental shift in the way their software behaves in the new version.
  • Organizations tend to customize their applications to the specific low level features of a particular version making it difficult to migrate them to new version
  • Some organizations do not have complete test cases and performance base lines and the fear of failure in the upgraded system puts barriers on software upgrades and it makes the current stack obsolete over the period.

The following are some of the upgrades that happened in the typical products & platforms from major vendors, which made fundamental shift in the architecture of the respective products, while this is done in good intention the kind of changes made the enterprises to spent lot on the upgrades of the applications running on these vendor products and platforms.

Cognos IWR to Cognos Report Net: Cognos 8 is different from Cognos Series 7. Cognos 8 is built on the proven and scalable Web services architecture introduced with Cognos ReportNet.

The following Congos Series 7 products that are not automatically migrated with out-of-the-box migration tools.

  • Cognos Query
  • Cognos Visualizer
  • Cognos NoticeCast
  • Cognos Web Services
  • CognosScript
  • Cognos Portal Services

File Net 3.X to Filenet P8: IBM FileNet P8 3.x to FileNet P8 4.x or 5.0 is a change of underlying architecture from Microsoft technology to J2EE technology. Installation and configuration expertise is very costly to acquire and maintain and the infrequency of usage are inefficient to have in-house resources.

Detailed knowledge of both old and new FileNet P8 versions are required for mapping data and security structures, but you will not gain that knowledge until after you've migrated the system.

TeamCenter PLM product, under gone major changes to SOA based services which required lot of effort on Upgrades

  • Enterprises spent lot of effort on Oracle 10g Upgrades due to the way Optimizer behavior changed
  • EJB 3.0 specification has significant changes to the older EJB 2.x specification

This list can be extended to several other Vendor products too, the above list is just a sample.

PaaS and Software Upgrades - Windows Azure Perspective
By adopting Platform as a Service on Cloud Platforms, PaaS platforms like Windows Azure mitigate the issues of large-scale upgrade efforts spent by organization.

The Windows Azure Vendor site claims, the following benefits:

Efficiency: Windows Azure improves productivity and increases operational efficiency by lowering up-front capital costs. Customers and partners can realize a reduction in Total Cost of Operations of some workloads by up to 30 - 40% over a three-year period.

Focus: Focus on delivering services and value to your customers - and not on managing technology infrastructure. Windows Azure enables you to spend less time on operational hurdles and more time focusing on your competitive differentiators.

Auto Upgrade in Windows Azure: Windows Azure guest OS Auto-upgrade feature to help you keep your service running on the latest operating system available for Windows Azure. The platform automatically upgrades your service to use the latest OS whenever it becomes available without you have to worry about it. This helps you keep your service running on the most secure OS available for Windows Azure with no extra effort.

As per Microsoft documentation, when a new release of the Windows Azure Guest OS is published, it can take several days for it to fully propagate across Windows Azure. If your service is configured for auto-upgrade, it will be upgraded sometime after the release date, and you'll see the new guest OS version listed for your service. If you are upgrading your service manually, the new guest OS will be available for you to upgrade your service once the full roll-out of the guest OS to Windows Azure is complete.

In-Place Upgrade in Windows Azure: Windows Azure also supports another upgrade mechanism, called "in-place upgrade," which enables you to incrementally roll a new version of your service over the existing version without first deploying the new version to staging. With this new mechanism, you can upgrade your entire application or just a single role (e.g., web role) without disturbing the other roles in your application. Note that you will still have the option to upgrade as before, by first deploying the new version to staging and then swapping it with the production deployment.

Enterprise Architecture Patterns and framework changed heavily during the last decade, while the ess the upgrades from the older versions. Coupled with Organization specific issues, we find that Software / Platform / Framework upgrades eat up the major chunk of IT budgets and leaving relatively smaller portion for business innovation.

One of the important goals of the Cloud Computing is to relieve the enterprises from the trouble of upgrades and concentrate on business value to clients.

We find the PaaS platforms like Windows Azure have serious attempts towards this area, there may be few draw backs in the implementation, but this provides a very good path for enterprises to switch their IT spending from maintenance to innovation.

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Highly passionate about utilizing Digital Technologies to enable next generation enterprise. Believes in enterprise transformation through the Natives (Cloud Native & Mobile Native).