Application owners approach a post-support world

Running a legacy datacenter means finding new ways to support older solutions. The Tru64 Unix environment exited HP’s support era seven years ago. The systems still prop up the businesses that Unix has always served well: web servers and Internet outposts, plus the best of class connectivity that Unix has featured.

Some sites wrote their own applications, but many used apps purchased from third parties. A computer platform that leaves the lineup of its creators, as AlphaServers did, often leaves behind support for those apps in the years that follow. In 2005, SAP announced that its application suite for Tru64 wouldn’t be sold any longer. The vendor proposed it would only cut off support in 2014, though. For an application no longer being sold, nine years is a generous window in the realm of today’s enterprise support commitments.

Beyond that, there might be a chance a discontinued application could live on as open source. In the MPE and OpenVMS ecosystems, apps that drift into independent status are considered ripe for open source status.

However, it’s a tricky thing to bring a commercial software product into open source territory. The vendor’s got to surrender its intellectual property rights, releasing the code into the wild. Solaris got this ride and then somehow returned to the Oracle lineup afterward. Applications are much harder to push out into indie status. It can help if the app began its life with an open source connection. OpenBravo ERP is a great example: crafted from Java, enterprise-ready, with all source available through sourceforge.net.

Alas, OpenBravo’s strategy going forward is to reel in such open source options. OpenBravo point of sale software will leave sourceforge.net next month. The good news in the OpenBravo story for SAP users is that in 2018, Openbravo announced a certified SAP connector. The software facilitates integration of the Openbravo Commerce Cloud for all clients running SAP as their central corporate system.

The years beyond legacy application vendor support can feel lonely and daunting. Choosing a good independent support resource is essential, of course. One customer still running an application on an HP 3000 server described the journey as a steady search for the next expert.

“We have no formal third party support any longer,” the IT manager said. “We have someone that we call from time to time that helps us in his spare time, but he doesn’t seem to be able to figure out this application issue – although he has been trying. We’ve been getting progressively worse for the last three months — and I would say our clients are already beginning to look elsewhere for a more reliable service.”

Image credit: Matthew Maillet on Unsplash

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