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LCI leads the migration effort to move national photography firm off of its legacy hardware onto a modern platform

CHALLENGE

Lifetouch, which was the largest employee-owned photography company in the world before being acquired by Shutterfly, was running two of their mission critical applications on an aging hardware platform.  The hardware was fast becoming obsolete and would soon reach its end of support life, and the Operating System was no longer supported by the vendor.  The hardware was also failing more often, causing loss of productivity because of unplanned downtime.

 

Lifetouch was contracting with a third party for both hardware and OS support – and this third party was being challenged to find parts as well as OS expertise.  The application software was written in a fourth-generation programming language, with major interaction with the OS.  LCI was asked to analyze the overall environment and provide and execute a plan to migrate these applications to a modern, supportable platform. 

 

 

APPROACH

LCI lead an effort to analyze the application environment in detail and develop a migration plan.  LCI analyzed the versions and costs of fourth-generation language upgrade options and third-party software which was used in conjunction with the applications.  LCI worked with the application support groups to document and analyze batch jobs/scripts and external application interfaces.  Lifetouch preferred to migrate to a VMware environment using the latest Windows Server version as the guest OS.  To accurately size and license the Windows servers, LCI analyzed performance on the existing servers and worked with the Lifetouch Infrastructure group on what the correct specifications and licensing type and costs would be.  LCI prepared a detailed proposal that included all costs (software/ licensing, LCI migration specialists), and a detailed timeline and plan for each migration step for each application.

 

LCI proposed that each application would take one year to migrate.  General migration steps were: 

 

Create application environment on Windows server:

 

  • Create server.

  • Install upgraded core and ancillary application software.

  • Populate data from source application.

  • Modify application programs that interact with the OS to work correctly with Windows.

  • Rewrite batch jobs/scripts to run under Windows.

  • Configure printers on Windows servers.

  • Configure batch job/scripts in Windows scheduler (as inactive).

  • Coordinate with various IT/business groups for testing.

 

Once testing was successful, final migration was planned.  General final migration steps were:

 

  • Bring application down on source system.

  • Remove/comment out batch jobs/scripts in scheduler.

  • Do a final data migration.

  • Change DNS to point to new Windows server.

  • Initiate user testing.

  • Activate batch jobs/scripts and verify batch jobs/scripts are working.

 

It should be noted that changing the business logic was outside of the scope of the migrations.  This was done to avoid ‘scope creep’, and to be able to complete the migrations within the allotted timeframes.  However, during the migration of the second application, Lifetouch asked LCI if they could speed up some critical weekly and monthly processes.  Since there was enough time in the schedule, LCI rewrote those processes, cutting run times from hours to minutes.

 

RESULTS

LCI successfully led the effort to migrate both applications to the new VMware/Windows environment within the planned timeframe and for planned cost. The migration of these mission critical applications ensured they would be supportable far into the future.  Shortly after the second migration, the old server was retired.  Lifetouch estimated that the money that was saved by not having to pay for hardware/OS support, plus the cost of unplanned downtime of the old servers would pay for the migration in approximately one year of running in the new environment.

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