Archive for: IT modernization | Stromasys

“We used to have a guy for that…”

In discussions about aging technology, IT managers often state this. While most companies used to have the skillset to maintain all parts of their infrastructure, there’s a hidden and increasing risk. The expertise is gone but those systems and infrastructure still operate within the organization. Not only do they operate, but they play a mission-critical role and are often proprietary and customized to the organization.

Without the skillset, gaps in support within the layers of infrastructure emerge and usually, at the worst time. In 2017, 146 million individuals’ personal information was exposed at Equifax because “the complexity of its legacy system contributed to a failure to patch a critical vulnerability,” wrote Robert Charette in Inside the Hidden World of Legacy IT Systems. Within Equifax, there was a lack of support knowledge about its legacy systems. In other words, the company used to have a guy for that.

To understand the risks in support, it’s important to first understand each layer of the infrastructure, specifically the hardware and the operating systems.

 The hardware layer

Legacy hardware has played an integral component in IT departments for decades (SPARC servers were first introduced in 1986). As they’re now at end-of-life status, they’re at risk of unplanned downtime, increasing maintenance costs, and a growing security risk. Alarmingly, often the skillset within a company to help mitigate those risks is gone.

IT departments need to deal with this unstable layer, and they’re faced with either rewriting the applications in an expensive and time-consuming migration strategy or finding spare parts on eBay to keep the hardware (and its risks) running. Another solution is a “lift and shift” emulation strategy, which will decommission the hardware and shift the legacy applications to a modern platform or the cloud without any modification or recertification to the application. The risk of downtime is eliminated, maintenance costs decrease, and without the dependence on legacy hardware, IT departments can take advantage of new technologies.

The operating system

Operating systems don’t age the same way as hardware, but without knowledgeable troubleshooting and support, they pose an increasing security and stability risk. These systems have ongoing patches and fixes but when it comes to these older, end-of-life OS versions, the original vendor doesn’t provide the patches.

An IT department needs to have the expertise to troubleshoot, resolve issues, and help a company with their security strategy. Finding a support provider (or training your own staff) that understands the challenges the organization faces, specializes in a system’s specific version and then can also implement workarounds and the patches needed is essential.

There are four main areas for patches: 

  • Stability patches: These patches fix a performance issue.
  • Security patch: These are often the most critical to apply under any type of regulatory framework.
  • Kernel patch: Only provided by the vendor, these usually occur with the first year or two of the system being released.
  • Firmware updates: Vendors typically stop upgrading firmware about one to three years from the release date.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees about what constitutes a patch, and most IT managers believe that if a vendor no longer provides patches, the system must be upgraded. But with the right expertise and support, this is not always the case. Upgrading can often come with a lot of hidden costs, including new storage and migrating the data and metadata. Version locking is one strategy that a proper support vendor would know and continue to keep your environment secure.

It’s important to not wait until an infrastructure layer fails or is exposed but to have the support in place for mission-critical applications. With that proper support, IT departments can keep costs down, their operations running smoothly and the opportunities to take advantage (and reap the benefits) of newer technologies.

For more in-depth information, view our webinar, sponsored by the OATUG, How to close the EOL systems drain and modernize your IT infrastructure


Press release: Stromasys to show new product offering at Nutanix .NEXT

 

Stromasys, a Nutanix Ready AHV partner, announced it will demo its latest hardware virtualization product, Charon SSP 4.0, at the Nutanix Global .NEXT Digital Experience from September 8th to September 11th. A leading provider in hardware virtualization solutions, Stromasys, with its SPARC emulation software, allows IT professionals with endof-life legacy hardware to continue using essential Solaris applications, without modification, while also lowering operational risk, costs, and energy consumption.

“We work closely with Nutanix to bring their customers through the last mile of IT modernization,” stated John Prot, CEO of Stromasys. “For many IT managers, migrating away from aging hardware is an integral part of business continuity and disaster recovery plans, especially during this uncertain time. With the release of Charon SSP 4.0 and in partnership with Nutanix, we can emulate more widely-used SPARC systems on hyper-converged infrastructure.”

Charon SSP 4.0 creates a virtual replica of Sun4M, Sun4U, and Sun4V SPARC systems on standard x86-64 computer systems. These virtual legacy systems run on Nutanix AHV hypervisor and the associated applications are freed to run “as is” on Nutanix infrastructure (hybrid or public cloud) in a matter of days.

The Nutanix Global .NEXT Digital Experience will bring together visionaries, developers, and IT leaders from around the globe to share the latest in hybrid and multi-cloud computing, datacenter infrastructure, storage, end user computing, database and more. The interactive event will feature a virtual “expo floor” where attendees can explore and discover new ways to modernize and optimize their datacenter operations.

See the full press release here.


IT modernization for the new workplace: Migrating legacy apps to the cloud

 

As governments worldwide put stay-at-home measures in place, organizations moved quickly to have their employees work from home while continuing normal business operations. It fell on IT managers to rapidly respond with an optimized IT infrastructure that ensured complete business continuity.

Cloud computing, with its flexibility and IT agility, is a major component for optimizing operations. Migrating to the cloud adds several benefits, such as scalability with new technologies, lower cost of ownership, and security patching. In 2018, according to LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision Study, main factors to move to the cloud are “IT agility, excelling at DevOps, mobility, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) adoption.”  Further, once migrated to the cloud, IT professionals are seeing that data analytics and disaster recovery are “two application areas with great opportunity.” The ongoing pandemic intensified this need, with organizations “realizing the importance of cloud computing, as it has emerged as the biggest enabler for business continuity.”

However, the one issue in many organization’s data centers, and often their last hurdle in IT modernization, is critical and essential legacy applications running on legacy hardware. Aging technology is at an increasing risk of failing, recently highlighted  with State department legacy IT systems seized with the recent influx of activity.

Not only are they at risk of failing, legacy systems are holding organizations back from moving to new technologies, better performance and faster delivery. In 2018, 76% of companies wanted to migrate to a cloud model to accelerate IT service delivery. Since the pandemic started, and the demand for employees to keep working in remote locations, the legacy applications trap has become more clear. In a study from Advanced, “98% of those surveyed reported active plans to move legacy applications to the Cloud in 2020.”

To optimize operations with full IT modernization, IT leaders currently have two options for their legacy applications: migration to a modern platform or emulation. Migration is often time-consuming and expensive and rarely stays to its proposed schedule. Emulation means IT managers can “lift and shift” the essential programs off the old hardware and onto a virtualized equivalent on the cloud. The Charon™ Solution, by Stromasys, can be installed remotely and does not require re-authentication or re-certification by system administrators. No changes are made to the applications, users experience the same “look and feel” and agencies can accelerate to full-speed operation, without the reliance on aging hardware.

Professional Target Marketing, a company based out of Toronto, migrated an essential application to the cloud remotely using the Charon emulation solution. Martin Novak, PTM’s IT Manager had peace-of-mind as this ultimately created a disaster recovery and business continuity plan before governments started issuing stay-at-home orders in North America.

For more information, visit the Stromasys ROI calculator to see your full cost-savings to migrate legacy applications away from hardware and into the cloud; or contact us today for a free demo.


Emulation in disaster recovery plans: How and why it works

 

Martin Novak, IT Manager at Professional Target Marketing (PTM), needed to protect one of the company’s main assets. A large database of customer information was mission-critical for the company and Martin knew he needed to ensure business continuity and put a strong disaster recover (DR) plan in place. Based in Toronto, PTM is a marketing firm primarily servicing the pharmaceutical industry.

We sat down with Martin to find out the “hows” and the “whys” he got to the DR plan he ultimately put in place.

Tell us about your company and why it was a priority to have a DR plan
PTM, formerly Formedic Communications, helps pharmaceuticals target Health Care Professionals (HCP’s) as part of their go-to-market strategy. With ongoing work with a dedicated team of data professionals, we continue to update our growing database of HCP’s and their information for marketing campaigns on behalf of our clients with their consent. So, essentially, the customer database forms the “bread and butter” of what we do. If it’s gone, our main asset is gone.

I knew I needed a strong DR plan and it was up to me to find it.

What were the different options you looked at before choosing Stromasys?
At that point, most of our production VM servers were backed up to the cloud. Except, I had an OpenVMS system running on two Alpha servers. OpenVMS was being used as the critical application server to update data in our Oracle database.

I knew I could buy another Alpha server used, set it up in a cold location and create a connection. But then, I would still be dealing with hardware and I would still have to back up the data in the cold location both locally and then remotely back to our head office. This would also require additional hardware for the local backup.  It wasn’t a good long-term plan for DR…and I would still have hardware including a new backup device for local backups!

How did you find Stromasys?
In a January 2019 at an Oracle seminar, they were looking for beta testers to migrate VMS systems to the Oracle cloud. Stromasys was recommended as an expert in migrating away from hardware to the cloud and Stromasys already had experience in migrating to the Oracle cloud.

How did the implementation plan go?
As this was my DR plan, I had a lot of questions about back-up. But the Stromasys team, particularly Greg Reut, were patient, helpful, and extremely responsive. Greg even wrote a script for me for the back-up plan. And it didn’t matter when I would email him, he would respond promptly. I never had to wait long. I felt like I was in good hands with Greg and the whole team.

How has the Charon solution helped with your overall IT strategy?
I finally have a real DR solution! The alternative still had hardware in the plan and it was expensive. I feel confident with Greg and the Stromasys engineering team and I’m sleeping at night knowing there is a business continuity plan in place. The customer database, our “bread and butter” is protected.

 

Are you facing challenges with your legacy system? Contact us today for a free consultation of our Charon software solution or to migrate to the cloud.

Use our FREE ROI calculator to get a quick snapshot on how much you could save in budget and resources.


On the Microsoft blog: Legacy Alpha application gets a new life as SaaS on Microsoft Azure

For years, a successful actuarial services company relied on a vital financial application that ran on Alpha hardware—a server well past its end-of-life date. To modernize its infrastructure with as little risk as possible, the company turned to Stromasys Inc., experts in cross-platform server virtualization solutions. In a matter of days, the company was running its mission-critical application on Azure. Soon after, it began to offer the software as a service (SaaS) to other companies, turning the formerly high-maintenance legacy software into a growing profit center.

Read the full success story on the Microsoft blog….


On the AWS blog: Re-Hosting SPARC, Alpha, or Other Legacy Systems to AWS with Stromasys

Companies still rely on mission-critical applications running on Sun SPARC, Alpha, or other legacy systems like PDP, VAX, or PA-RISC systems. As time goes on, however, the maintenance costs for these systems goes up, and reliability declines due to their age.

Re-architecting these applications is complex and expensive. Fortunately, they can be re-hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in a matter of days using cross-platform hypervisors from Stromasys, an AWS Partner Network (APN) Standard Technology Partner.

Read the full blog post here.