Written by Ian Hutchinson, Strategic Alliance Leader AWS (EMEA & APAC) at SoftwareONE
As digital transformation accelerates across multiple business sectors, so does the problem of dealing with end-of-life (EOL) software – which impacts more and more companies every year. Many IT departments are still faced with the everyday difficulties of dealing with enterprise software running on on-premises servers — constant maintenance, patching, and updates among them — but the EOL stage complicates the picture even further.
Running EOL software on enterprise networks increases risk in several vectors, including security and compliance, raises costs, and can leave businesses hobbled as support becomes limited and feature sets atrophy.
Therefore, many organisations are increasingly looking to mitigate EOL risks and issues by migrating to the cloud. There is already an established roadmap for the journey too which utilises an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Optimisation and Licensing Assessment for ease of transition which is becoming all the more important as EOL deadlines are an increasingly constant factor forcing companies to make far-reaching decisions on their IT strategy.
The risks and issues of running EOL software
The headline reason running EOL software is highly undesirable concerns the range of security issues it creates. Once software falls off its provider’s support list, that means that all security fixes and enhancements cease. Given the constantly evolving security threat that companies are facing, this is a huge problem. New threats are emerging on an almost daily basis — cybercrime is forecast to cost the world $10.5 trillion a year by 2025 — and software that is not constantly being patched and maintained is vulnerable to hackers. That threat encompasses everything from ransomware attacks to breaches that could compromise sensitive customer information and proprietary business data and the resulting impact on your global brand.
Lurking behind the security issues, there are other factors too, either one of which on their own is enough to make running EOL software problematic at best.
Most regulations and industry standards incorporate patch management as a compliance requirement. Regulated industries are obliged to maintain and run only supported and up-to-date software/hardware, meaning that EOL software flirts dangerously with non-compliance and all the penalties that it involves.
Outdated operating systems and database technologies may not be able to run newer software, leading to compatibility issues within the wider company IT ecosystem. Older technology is also more likely to have performance issues or stop working entirely, leading to lost productivity. And lastly, it should be pointed out that all this has distinct financial impacts as well. It is entirely feasible that IT teams can spend more money and resources trying to fix, secure, and maintain EOL technology over time than a new purchase would cost.
Deadlines looming: picking the best option under pressure.
The headache of dealing with EOL software is an issue that many organisations are currently facing as the extended support on both Microsoft’s SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012, is ending soon: 12 July 2022 and 10 October 2023, respectively.
The options available to businesses, in this case, illustrate well the strategic decisions that have to be made when it comes to EOL software in general.
Option 1: Stick with an on-premises approach. This means paying for Extended Security Updates now and being ready to address the problem in a few years when that deadline arrives.
Option 2: Migrate to the cloud, stick with Microsoft software, and move your company data to SQL Server 2019. Migrating to Amazon RDS, for example, enables an organization to benefit from Platform-as-a-Service technology that handles automatic patch and maintenance updates, saving operational time and effort.
Option 3: Migrate to the cloud, and explore application modernization options, starting with an AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment (OLA).
A growing number of organizations today are ruling out Option 1 – staying on-premises. Instead, they’re looking to the cloud, which can help to improve performance while reducing costs.
An IDC study has predicted that 49% of business applications and 46% of data management workloads on Windows servers will be in the cloud by 2023. Furthermore, the organisation also concluded that moving Windows workloads to AWS provides a massive 442% return on investment over five years.
What migrating to AWS can mean for your business
These are compelling numbers. But moving your EOL software to the cloud and optimizing how you use resources on AWS can help your organization do more than save money. With a constantly expanding number of 80 availability zones around the globe, the AWS Cloud also reduces downtime, which means significant boosts in performance, reliability, and peace of mind.
Access to innovation and increasingly agile iterations is another benefit. AWS regularly rolls out enhancements, iterative and otherwise, based on customer feedback, to the extent that it has launched 69 new services in the last year alone. Compared to the much slower pace of development of on-premises IT solutions, this steady stream of new cloud-based capabilities makes it easier for your organization to stay agile and competitive in the accelerating business environment being created by widespread digital transformation projects.
Actioning the move: how an optimisation and licensing assessment works.
So, what does the process of transition involve?
An OLA is an advisory service funded by AWS provided by SoftwareONE that assesses your current on-premises environments, factoring in any cloud deployments you might also have. It identifies how your organization uses resources in real life, determines what your existing licensing costs are, and then looks for ways to optimize all of that in the AWS Cloud. Those findings can help build a business case for an AWS migration and licensing strategy.
Discovery tools automatically collect usage information about each server in your on-premises data centre. This information can include everything from host names, IP addresses and operating systems, to how much CPU, RAM, and storage is provisioned and consumed.
The OLA also determines whether you qualify for the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP). Through this, AWS can provide you with additional funding, tools, and other resources to support your modernization efforts and journey into the cloud.
After the assessment, a report is then created that models your different deployment options based on your existing licensing. This will show, for example, where you might be able to use the AWS BYOL (Bring Your Own License) program, and how flexible licensing options can potentially help to reduce your costs. It also provides 1-, 3-, or 5-year estimates for the total cost of ownership, enabling you to make direct comparisons with taking the previously mentioned Option 1 and continuing onwards with on-prem solutions. Furthermore, these estimates consider, among other things, how right-sizing consumption habits and eliminating zombie resources can bring down expenses.
Life after software death
Continuing to work with EOL software can create huge problems for businesses, hamstringing their competitiveness and potentially pitching them into a confrontation with regulators. EOL software, by its nature, continues operations with a growing number of vulnerabilities to cybercrime actors, and even if security issues are avoided, its continued use becomes an ever more costly drain on company resources and already stretched IT departments.
Luckily, there is an easy solution available in the cloud, and a reliable route to unlocking both the cloud’s full potential and emphasising the business case of the transition with an AWS OLA. And as more on-prem deployments enter their EOL stage, ensuring that there is life and continuity in the cloud after software, death is becoming an ever-more critical mission.