Lockdown has given many enterprise IT departments the time and motivation to re-examine costs…

In particular, the mounting financial implications of continuing to use Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, which are now out-of-support from Microsoft.

Although Microsoft will continue to offer the bare minimum Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for these operating systems, the cost doubles each year until the scheme ends completely in January 2023. A 20,000-seat company using Windows 7, for instance, could find itself paying £1.6 million for a system that is not fully secure or operationally dependable. 

Until now, companies with business-critical legacy applications designed to run on out-of-support Windows systems have been in a bind. They have not been able to migrate them to the operating systems used by the major cloud-providers for fear they will fall over. Compatibility has been a huge problem. Unless, that is they undertake expensive and time-consuming refactoring or recoding. 

A solution putting an end to the ESU saga

Fortunately, there is a complete solution to this problem that will eliminate or reduce the cost of ESUs. The availability of application compatibility packaging makes cloud migration possible for legacy applications without the costs, time and labour involved in refactoring or recoding. Organisations can reduce costs and quickly reap the cloud’s wealth of benefits in terms of scale, cost and operational flexibility. In many cases implementation is achievable within a few weeks.

This new technology has become available at just the right time. Enterprise IT departments emerging from the pandemic are now looking seriously at the costs and alternatives to ESUs. We have been through a period of massively increased remote working that has put a strain on connectivity, VPNs and server access. Enterprises with thousands of people on the payroll, for example have found accessing records remotely and securely has been highly problematic. Research commissioned by SAP Concur reveals that almost a third of businesses (32%) found it difficult or very difficult to make the transition to remote working. IT, infrastructure and communications were the biggest problems. 

This has given many pause for thought, especially as the crisis is not over and we face the possibility of what may yet be a significant economic downturn. Just like many of us who put off reducing our gas or electricity bills, organisations have reached the point where they can no longer tolerate paying out for sub-standard service, so they opt for the cloud. And they have had the time under lockdown to assess the options. The emergence of application compatibility packaging means organisations with business-critical legacy applications can move to the cloud without risking viability or incurring substantial costs.

Costs and cloud migration

Cost-identification is very much on the corporate IT agenda. Market analysts IDC said in April that for many organisations, migration to cloud will be both a cost-saving measure and an existential decision.  A poll of global IT leaders by Snow Software this month (June) found 45 per cent of respondents said they plan to accelerate the pace of their cloud migration plans, while 66 per cent will continue to increase their overall use of cloud for the foreseeable future. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) said Covid-19 had led to an increase in spending on private and public cloud infrastructure services, including those offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform. 

Deloitte, in its Covid-19 outlook for the US tech industry, said declines could be coming in servers, storage, and network hardware as enterprise IT services look to cut costs (trends certain to be replicated in the UK). Deloitte recommends companies accelerate migration to the public cloud, and in particular, that they ask themselves what steps they can take to migrate legacy applications from their data centres to the cloud.

Virtualisation is only a partial success with legacy applications

Virtualisation is often touted as a solution to the problems of migrating legacy apps, but although it simplifies deployment and addresses some application-to-application conflicts, it does not solve compatibility problems between the application and the cloud-provider’s system. 

Application compatibility packaging, by contrast, provides the redirection, isolation and compatibility needed for the application to function in the external cloud service environment exactly as it did on the old operating system. It isolates the application from the underlying system, meaning Windows Servicing Updates can be rolled out to the server or device without impacting the application. The application will remain evergreen into the future, running as if cloud-native without the need for a single piece of additional infrastructure. The beauty of this is it agnosticism – organisations can migrate their applications to any of the cloud vendors.

Peace of mind with migration

A key benefit of successful migration is peace of mind – knowing an enterprise’s critical apps will continue to function fully in the cloud, safe from the threats and limitations of unsupported Windows 2008 and 2008R2. This is a new era of post-lockdown evergreen IT, in which critical systems are given more than just a new lease of life in the cloud – they are given invincibility. The process effectively futureproofs the application, enabling it to be managed with any third-party tool as a cloud-native application.

Back in April, Microsoft announced a 15 per cent increase in revenues for January to March, seeing two years’ cloud migration in two months, driven by the effects of the Coronavirus. Companies with legacy applications need to be part of this cloud-surge, rather than contributing to Microsoft’s revenues through a steady stream of fees for ESUs. Application compatibility packaging is how they join the successful cloud migrants.

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