How do I migrate my solution from RISC?

How do I migrate my solution from RISC to x86 architecture is one of the questions that I get asked a lot these days. It is a very fair question to ask as it is only human nature to want some level of comfort when planning a transition.

There are multiple different paths available to migrate solutions and there are numerous different variables which need to be considered. There is no 'one-size fits all' approach to migration. Factors such as operating system environment, type of workload, whether packaged application and the level of custom code in your solution all come into play when trying to plan out your migration.

So, without writing 'war and peace' (an extremely long novel) I just wanted to share some perspectives and point to some resources in that jungle of resources that might help you navigate your way through a solution migration

Firstly, if your solution is an off the shelf application then moving it from one architecture type to another is a straight forward  porting and recompile process. Contrary to some popular beliefs there is not a whole separate set of application vendors and titles where the applications just run on Unix/RISC combination. Most application vendors have made their products available on multiple different operating systems that run on multiple different architectures. Unfortunately there is no master index or website out there that I have come across that would simplify the process of seeing who supports what application on what operating and what architecture. (let me know if there is something like this). Unfortunately it is a hard grind and requires a visit to each application vendors website to ensure that their application that is part of your solution is supported on your choice of operating system and your server platform of choice.

Luckily, it is not all doom and gloom and hard work. One very useful site around Solaris is the tool on SUN Microsystems website that allows you to check what applications  run on Solaris sparc or Solaris x86.

The last I checked over 80% of applications that run on SPARC also run on x86.

My suggestion if you draw blank here is to approach your application vendor and make business case on why they should support a Solaris x86 version. Likelihood is that the application vendor has a version running on Linux/x86 already, so getting a version to run on solaris/x86 is not a huge engineering effort. Mainly the application vendor will want to see some real demand so they can justify the support model.

There are also some useful guides out there developed by HP, Dell, Intel, SUN, IBM, Redhat, Microsoft and others that are technically focussed on the 'how to' migrate your solution.

Here is just a sample of some of the resources.

Lastly migrating custom code is a more challenging project. There are many organizations with significant experience and expertise that offer services to assist in migration projects. Leverage these organizations to help. I know at first blush there may be concerns of the cost of paying for migration services, but look at the bigger picture. In a lot of cases the TCO benefits and improved performance will deliver business benefits that will outweigh the cost of migration in the long run.

Hopefully this is helpful. I would really like to hear what have your experiences have been with migration or what are the challenges that you face as you look forward towards migration?