This is my first post in a series of migration-related blogs.
First, some history.
When Sybase was acquired by SAP in 2010, the general perception about the long-term viability of the Sybase database products changed quite dramatically.
Previously, discussions with customers were often centered around justifying why investing in Sybase technology was not a risky proposition with a doubtful future - often inspired by active spreading of FUD by Sybase competitors.
But ever since Sybase became part of SAP, those perceptions have pretty much disappeared as it was now clear that Sybase's future was not in doubt.
At the same time, a new element started to appear in those customer conversations. Namely, we started receiving inquiries whether SAP could assist in migrating some applications from a non-SAP database to SAP Sybase ASE.
Such requests had upsides as well as downsides. Upsides, because it underlined how ASE was increasingly being seen as a viable alternative to certain other well-known DBMS brands (BTW, at Sybase, we knew that all along). At the same time however, SAP did not actually provide migration tools to support such migrations. Unfortunately, what this meant was that the best help SAP/Sybase could offer to such customers was, basically, to wish them good luck.
But we did not sit idle...
Since we were unable to find existing migration tools that met SAP's requirements, we decided to build our own.
Therefore, let me now please introduce (drumroll):
Exodus, the SAP database migration tool for migrating custom applications to SAP databases.
This is great news! Today, with Exodus, SAP is in a position to provide substantially better support to customers interested in database migrations.
In a nutshell, Exodus supports migration of customer applications between the following databases:
- Supported source databases: Oracle (v.9 and later) and Microsoft SQL Server (v.2000 and later)
- Supported target databases: SAP ASE, SAP IQ and SAP SQL Anywhere
There is much to say about this topic (and indeed I will, keep watching this space). But first, here are some key points I need to get straight rightaway. Experience has shown that, otherwise, confusion may quickly take hold.
Key point #1: Exodus is about migrating 'custom applications'
With Exodus, SAP aims at migration of custom applications, which means: non-SAP applications. For SAP apps such as Business Suite, well-established migration practices are already available and Exodus would not contribute much.
- A 'custom application' is typically a one-off application operated by a particular customer. Such a custom app was usually either built by a customer itself, or built specifically for the customer by a third party.
- Custom applications are often transaction-oriented, meaning their basic function is to retrieve, insert or modify individual data rows. To contrast, consider analytics-oriented applications which are typically read-only (apart from bulk-loading the data), and access large numbers of data rows in a single operation.
- Exodus aims primarily at migration of custom OLTP application which are based on server-side SQL, commonly referred to as "stored procedures".
- Applications which the customer purchased or licensed from a software vendor (like SAP, but I am sure you can think of others) are not 'custom applications' in the sense as meant above; if a customer wants to migrate such an application to an SAP database, the software vendor itself is typically driving this. Exodus does not apply in such cases (although we are certainly interested to work directly with those software vendors to help them port their application to a SAP/Sybase database).
Key point #2: Exodus is free - though not freely available
The SAP Exodus migration tool is not charged for. At the same time, you will search in vain for a location where Exodus can be downloaded, since it cannot.
The Exodus migration tool is available to SAP employees as well as to qualified SAP Partners participating in the Exodus Partner Program.The partner program offers SAP partners access to Exodus at no cost, but does require some administrative steps (more about that in a later blog).
For customers interested in migration, this means they should engage with SAP directly, or with an SAP Partner that can use Exodus.
Please be assured that there is no evil scheme behind the decision not to make Exodus freely available to customers, but some rather more practical reasons. Regardless, we will make an effort to ensure that customers get the benefits of Exodus.
Key point #3: Exodus is not an SAP product
Exodus is a tool, not a product. That may sound like splitting hairs, but it is actually an important distinction. For example, did I mention Exodus is not charged for? Also, support for projects using Exodus is not provided through the regular SAP product support channels, but directly by the Migration Solutions team in SAP's Database & Technology group.
Another aspect is that migration tools are typically unable to provide 100% automatic and functionally correct migration results. Exactly how well Exodus performs in practice really depends on the application being migrated -- and in the world of custom applications, no two applications are the same.
Key point #4: Migrations can be tricky
I'd be lying if I said that with Exodus, you can now migrate every custom application with one click of the mouse on Friday afternoon, and then switch production to the migrated system by Monday morning.
Folks who got their hands dirty in database migrations know that these can be challenging on multiple levels. While the Exodus tool will provide support in crucial areas such as schema migration and automatic conversion between SQL dialects, there will probably be some bits and pieces that need to be migrated manually. The good news is that Exodus helps to identify where those bits and pieces are, and in many cases also suggests possible solutions.
Let me stop here for now.
With Exodus, SAP is serious about helping customers migrate their custom applications from non-SAP databases to SAP.
More information coming soon -- watch this space!
(if you have questions that cannot wait until the next blog post, contact your local SAP representative or ExodusHelp@sap.com)
Global DBMS Migration Lead
Migration Solutions, SAP Database & Technology