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Using a migration general contractor's blueprint

After six years of HP 3000 migration work and experiments, there's a lot of software and experience to use to ensure a migration succeeds. But how to educate yourself on what's right for your company?

A sensible solution is to engage a migration "general contractor" — a company that knows the details and can match the right materials, if you will, to build your mission-critical system that's a reliable and efficient as your HP 3000.

Capturing that knowledge can seem like a tall order for smaller companies, especially those who need to do the migration themselves. Speedware's Chris Koppe, whose company is one of several serving as migration contractors, outlined the advantages and options of using such a guide at the recent e3000 Community Meet.

For example, database migration tools need to make sure every byte has come across. Since the Eloquence database is a common choice for a migration, Koppe said his solution and others have data integrity tools to check Eloquence migrations.

Customers at the meet wondered if Eloquence can be a final database destination, or an interim choice. "Thirty to 50 percent of migrating customers walk in with a concept of Eloquence being a transitory solution because it's low-risk," Koppe said. "But once some of them see how it works, I've seen them scrub other projects. Once Eloquence is working, it's there, and customers have halted projected of 30 40 developers creating Java solutions."

Koppe noted several sites which have performed successful HP 3000 migrations, but no matter how big the IT staffs are, they often use a migration contractor. The education process from these guides, which is usually free, saves a lot of time and money.

For example, knowing about integration of new solutions is a key question. Eloquence also has extensibility through specific ODBC drivers from Minisoft and MB Foster, as well as its own ODBC layers. "It is easy to take the Eloquence technology footprint and extend it," Koppe said. "It's very easy to create a stable platform using it, one that can go on for 10 years or more." Suprtool created a version highly compatible with Eloquence for the fundamental "lift and shift" migrations.

Then there's the OpenTurbo tool from iMaxsoft. Koppe said it's the only company on the market we've seen so far to create successful bi-directional data migrations, to and from IMAGE databases."

Eloquence has served as a target database in conjunction with iMaxsoft's OpenTurbo for a  customer using bi-directional transfers, carving their monolithic COBOL application into chunks and bringing that to the new platform over six-months. "They could do bi-directional synchronization to keep the data snychronized during a multi-phase cut-over," Koppe reported.

Speedware has been a partner, along with its solutions providers and its contracted 3000 experts, for big HP 3000 sites. Koppe mentioned one firm, Expeditors International, which had more than 160 HP 3000s and migrated them one by one over a nine-month period. Another company he "couldn't mention by name, but we can probably figure out, a large insurance company with more than 400 HP 3000s," which executed a successful migration — because it utilized the best solutions from a wide range of companies.

The overall message: Getting a general contractor, so to speak, gives a migrating company a way to tap the experience of using a wide array of migration tools. MPEX commands, for example, need to be migrated if a customer leaves the HP 3000. AMXW does this, to some extent, in its current version.

How to discover such capabilities becomes a time-consuming research project for a migrating site, without experience from Platinum Migration Partners, or companies who reach out for technology partners. "We've seen projects go off the rails because of poor project management or poor planning," Koppe said.

Testing is the most labor-intensive part of the migration project. "And if you outsource the testing, it can become the most costly part. It's also the thing the organizations are most skilled to do in-house, because they know the applications."

There were things not to do:

  • Don't underestimate the effort. It's takes a lot of time and lot of effort, especially on the testing. Don't underestimate the test planning process; there's a lot of different types of testing. Koppe said his company has identified eight different types of testing.
  • Don't include too much. If if you're working at a modernization level, don't modernize everything at once. Pick out a few core pieces.

Typical phases of a migration begin with education and proceed to planning and budgeting, so management can approve and the IT staff can begin to deliver an overall cost. "Then they are nailing down the price of the work and nailing down the vendors for the software and the tools."

Platinum Migration Partners Speedware and MB Foster begin with a Migration Assessment, which is free. "It's a way to shortcut this education phase, and it's designed to tell us what you have, and we'll tell you what your options are.

The presentation which MB Foster and Speedware show to high-level management is "a blueprint which anyone can use, even if you plan to do your migration yourself. We can give you some level of assistance — to sell what you want to do to your executive management, even if you intend to do the whole thing yourself."