We answer your most common Cloud Migration questions...

Following the announcement by Unit4 that Unit4 Financials by Coda, ERP and FP&A will be transitioning to Cloud-based SaaS solutions, many customers have raised questions and concerns. To help address these, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions.

Published May 2024

“What does Cloud migration mean for our people on the ground? What do we need to do, how long will it take, and how can we minimise disruption?”

For questions like these, it’s fair to say that Millennium Consulting is on familiar territory. We’ve been involved in digital transformation and change management for more than three decades. And in recent years especially, that transformation typically involves helping organisations make the move to the Cloud.

Right now, many of our customers are looking afresh at Cloud migration following Unit4’s announcement that Unit4 Financials by Coda, Unit4 FP&A, and Unit4 ERP are set to become fully Cloud-based SaaS solutions. Questions and concerns are inevitable. So, to ease your mind, in this blog post, we have grouped together some of our most commonly asked questions from the last few months.

 “The version of Coda we’re on today is old, how easy is it to migrate?”

We get this a lot: where organisations have been working quite happily with legacy on-premise versions, leaving them with what they assume will be a mountain to climb when it comes to eventual migration.

Rest assured, there’s no need to panic! Migration from Coda V14 (and older) is something we see all the time. It’s manageable – as long as you approach it in the right way.

There’s a key change between Version 14 and Continuous Release

Migration for Continuous Release users:

Here your version number is given as a year number, followed by a quarter number, denoting your last update under Unit4’s rolling update schedule. As with any migration, we would need to consider any integrations you have in play to ensure a smooth transition.

Once your integrations are SaaS compatible, you’re left with a pretty straightforward migration exercise: i.e. a “lift and shift” to recreate your Coda setup – pretty much like-for-like – in the Cloud.  Test, then you are ready to go live.

Migration for users of V14 or earlier

If you are on V14 or earlier, several additional steps are involved. The aim is to clear any tech debt you might have built up by missing out on earlier upgrades, effectively bringing you up to full functionality and ensuring everything works once the migration is complete.

Using a staged approach, we would upgrade your version of Coda into a test environment (the older your version, the more likely it is that we would cycle through several iterations during this upgrade process). Next test thoroughly, making sure that trial balances, integrations, key database changes and all other core processes work as they should. Once you are up to spec, your updated version of Coda is then lifted and shifted to the Cloud. Test and then you are good to go.

“We use Oracle or DB2, how can we move that to Azure?”

In the last couple of years especially, we have seen many Oracle and DB2 users successfully complete migration to Azure. Our specialised DB2 and Oracle teams are on hand to help make the process as pain-free as possible.

With this comes a vast of experience in migration-related scripting: customised code to automate multiple elements of the migration process, including data mapping, validation, testing, role provisioning, configuration – and more. The end result is more efficient, less error-prone process, with a reduced need for time-consuming manual intervention Millennium can handle this complete process; no additional third-party experts are required.

The actual migration process is a similar one to a Coda v14 or earlier migration (as above).

“We have lots of and/or complex integrations, how can they work going forward?”

Do you have a web of integrations with multiple applications and co-dependencies? This is extremely common, and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be a barrier to a smooth migration.

First off, it’s worth remembering that Unit4 Financials is integration-friendly, with architecture specifically designed to ensure interoperability in mixed application environments. Secondly, integration is achieved through one of three options: repointing (a straightforward lift and shift), rewriting (modifications to the relevant application’s code), or through the deployment of middleware (additional software to address specific issues linked to, for instance, data reformatting or synchronization). So, it’s essentially a matter of choosing the right method.

We’re experts at all three methods – and at helping you identify the most appropriate option for the type of integration under consideration. For instance, if it’s a legacy interface written in old code, a rewrite might be in order. For a more recent application where there are no interoperability issues in play, a simple lift and shift may be all that’s required.

“We have reporting needs and feed data from the database, can we still do that?”

Yes, and no. No SaaS vendor would ever give you direct access to their operational database (quite apart from security concerns, the service would grind to a halt if the database was dealing with a constant stream of SQL queries).

However, Unit4 offers customers a replicated database service hosted on Azure. It’s not full database access, but it’s usually sufficient for reporting needs. We can help you with bespoke configuration and onboarding.

Failing that, Millennium offers a middleware solution. Find out more about dataBridge here.

“How much data should we take with us?”

The short answer is as little as possible. There is no point in migrating databases that serve no real operational purpose. This is the ideal opportunity to take stock; i.e. map your data, and rationalise where possible.

As for archiving, you could, of course, retain your archived data on-premise. However, it’s also possible to store it on the Cloud through Coda; something that we can help you manage.

“What's the impact of change to the business users?”

In terms of the actual switch from one deployment model to another, the impact is quite minimal. If you are already on Continuous Release, you are getting essentially the same product with the same functionality, regardless of whether you are on the on-premise or SaaS model – so there’s nothing unfamiliar for users to get to grips with post-migration. Obviously though, if you are making the jump from a legacy version, users may need some guidance with negotiating a backlog of new features (something we can assist with).

But rather than watching it happen from afar, it’s much better if business users are active participants in the migration process. One area where we strongly advise user-involvement is testing. We want to see users run their day-to-day workflows for all key processes, flag up niggles and anomalies, suggest ways that things could be done better, and ask difficult questions: this is all extremely valuable in helping you achieve maximum ROI from your new deployment model.

“I use Tropos, how can I go to Unit4 Cloud without breaking the link?”

Tropos is an ERP system that uses Unit4 Financials by Coda as its finance module – so the two applications are deeply integrated. The problem with this is that if you are a Tropos user, you have to potentially upgrade the whole of Tropos if you want to upgrade Coda.

The good news is that Millennium Consulting has created a fix. Several years ago, we developed dataBridge, a middleware solution that effectively bridges the gap between Unit4 Financials by Coda and third party applications – including Tropos. You can upgrade Unit4 and migrate your Financials environment, regardless of where your third party data is integrating from, and without having to touch Tropos.

“How long will it take and how much will it cost?”

The time required and cost both depend on the following:

  • What version you are on
  • Your current state in SQL
  • The number and type of co-dependent integrations
  • How much input you need from us (if any)

As a very rough and ready time estimate, around three months is typical for a small organisation. The longest migration project we have been involved in took around a year, but that involved investigating and managing 50+ integrations, in addition to an upgrade from a legacy version in a highly complex global organisation.

Your next steps for a successful migration

Millennium Consulting’s Unit4 migration experts are on hand to deliver a rapid, successful move to the Cloud, enabling you to extract maximum value from your new deployment model – with minimum disruption to your business.

We offer specialised project managers trained in the Unit4 methodology, and as an Elite Partner, we have consistently demonstrated the ability to achieve the highest level of success with Unit4. To get your migration project on track, speak to us today.

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