The Digital Landscape
Said Heraclitus, the only thing that is constant is change; a phrase no more evident than in today’s computing digital landscape with innovations and developments occurring at exponentially increasing rates and often long before we can even imagine them. CloudTweaks discussed this transforming environment and keeping up with it with Stephane Manos, VP and co-founder of Valsoft.
The ‘First Shift’
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the business world experienced one of the first major computing technology shifts as software that had principally been written with DOS/COBALT was outclassed by the appearance of Windows and the adoption of PCS. Software providers offering products designed for Windows platform for PCS were suddenly at the cutting edge of their industry, and along with the rapid growth of the internet in the mid-‘90s came a momentous event in programming languages.
The Cloud Shift
The second major migration, explains Manos, is the move to the cloud. With the adoption of the internet came the question of how to bring software programs to it and despite companies bringing their technologies online since the early 2000s it did not become a trend until the end of that decade. Cloud adoption, however, made it possible to legitimately use web-enabled software with many of the products and services available doing away with large upfront costs and licensing fees and instead implementing monthly billing structures. Moreover, these cloud tools typically required reduced IT skills and removed the need for server environments and the management thereof. Cloud software promised user-friendly solutions easily tailored and scaled to the needs of an individual company, and at much-reduced costs, so it’s no surprise that somewhere around 2012/2013 software businesses not yet at the fore of cloud realized the necessity of bringing their organizations online and switching to subscription-based models.
The Demands of Cloud Migration on Software Developers
However, just because cloud products and services offer user-friendly and cost-effective tools to businesses, don’t assume that transforming pre-cloud software products into cloud tools is a simple matter. This is a massive undertaking in terms of both time and cost, in part because software previously stored on a business’s internal servers now shifts to the servers held by the software company, and further due to the rewriting required to convert software with all of its existing features, integrations, and bug fixes into a cloud solution. Manos explains that this rewrite often takes 12 to 24 months to get a basic version out, depending on the funds and programmers allocated to the task.
The most notable difficulty experienced by software companies switching their products to cloud is cash flow. Previously receiving large upfront license checks, with sizeable maintenance contracts (also paid upfront), cloud migration means the investment of profits into tech that is likely only to begin selling in 18 to 24 months’ time. Once ready for market, these companies now face subscription models typically entailing a monthly charge and so in order to sustain company expenses it’s necessary to very quickly build a solid customer base. Some of these businesses have been in existence since the ‘80s; it’s no wonder owners don’t wish to invest all of their hard-won profits in ‘future’ profits.
According to Manos, not all companies need migrate to the cloud as for some the right decision is continuing to service existing clients. Business leaders need to assess their market positioning and industry competition before making a switch, and though refusing to change probably won’t bring new clients into the business, it can allow a successful company to continue servicing existing clients very well. However, it’s important to recognize that migrating to the cloud ensures a company can drive new sales and build their customer base, always a key consideration.
Understanding how big an undertaking cloud migration is for any software enterprise, Valsoft relies on a capital allocation approach to any development or cloud migration. Says Manos, “We believe that if we measure and track every allocation of a company’s P&L, the best interests of Valsoft shareholders, the company’s‘ employees, and the clients are served.” Further, through balancing cash flow with the acquisition of specific modules or technologies, Valsoft avoids unnecessary, costly in-house development; and with their migration tracking and deadline monitoring, it’s possible to accurately determine a company’s lifecycle and decide on the best course of action.
By Jennifer Klostermann