January 10, 2015


There is much confusion about migration, by which I mean applications or investment being moved from one “platform” technology — hardware, operating system, DBMS, Hadoop, appliance, cluster, cloud, etc. — to another. Let’s sort some of that out. For starters:

I mixed together true migration and new-app platforms in a post last year about DBMS architecture choices, when I wrote:

  • Sometimes something isn’t broken, and doesn’t need fixing.
  • Sometimes something is broken, and still doesn’t need fixing. Legacy decisions that you now regret may not be worth the trouble to change.
  • Sometimes — especially but not only at smaller enterprises — choices are made for you. If you operate on SaaS, plus perhaps some generic web hosting technology, the whole DBMS discussion may be moot.

In particular, migration away from legacy DBMS raises many issues:

  • Feature incompatibility (especially in stored-procedure languages and/or other vendor-specific SQL).
  • Your staff’s programming and administrative skill-sets.
  • Your investment in DBMS-related tools.
  • Your supply of hockey tickets from the vendor’s salesman.

Except for the first, those concerns can apply to new applications as well. So if you’re going to use something other than your enterprise-standard RDBMS, you need a good reason.

I then argued that such reasons are likely to exist for NoSQL DBMS, but less commonly for NewSQL. My views on that haven’t changed in the interim.

More generally, my pro-con thoughts on migration start:

I’m also often asked for predictions about migration. In light of the above, I’d say:

And for a final prediction — discussion of migration isn’t going to go away either. 🙂


3 Responses to “Migration”

  1. clive boulton on January 10th, 2015 3:26 pm

    PE firms like Vista/Apax/Francisco Partners have amassed huge portfolios of enterprise business software. Some codebases go back to the mini-computer era, some are later, almost all have fallen from growth compared to consumer internet and SaaS like Salesforce. One has to wonder how long these firms can sit tight on these portfolios milking recurring revenues without taking up app migration paths charted here. Or is the migration path simply to unsure to proceed (I don’t think so).

  2. Hadoop generalities | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on June 10th, 2015 10:08 am

    […] As a general rule, Hadoop adoption is happening earlier for new applications, rather than in replacement or rehosting of old ones. That kind of thing is standard for any comparable technology, both because enabling new applications can be valuable and because migration is a pain. […]

  3. Notes on vendor lock-in | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on July 20th, 2016 7:35 pm

    […] in migration (January, […]

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