There’s nothing better than having clients say great things about you…
“One of the reasons we chose Morphis is because of their flexibility to re-architect to either Java or .NET, and because they have the capability to convert an Oracle database to a SQL Server database. Since we were 100 percent Oracle, this piece was critical. As far as outcomes, the tech guys we work with are phenomenal. They do everything they can to make us successful and we stay with them because we know what they can do.”Sue Camner, Database Manager of Miami-Dade County
Here’s the background to what is an ongoing engagement with Miami-Dade County. Ten projects completed, nine in process and, hopefully, still more to follow. Some delivered by Morphis, some by Miami-Dade County, some by a combined team, ALL using the Morphis platform for application modernization.
The Miami-Dade County Information Technology Department manages the IT infrastructure for all but two (the Police Department and Seaport) of the county’s lines of business including: Solid Waste Management, Public Works, Water and Sewer, Building, Small Business Development, etc. In 2011, an enforced IT change by their selected technology platform provider was going to necessitate significant staff training and transition expenses while offering little in terms of improved functionality and security.
In 2011, an Oracle upgrade required all Forms and Reports customers to move to its WebLogic Suite server. To facilitate this upgrade, Miami-Dade County’s database administrators (DBAs) would have needed extensive training to learn the entire WebLogic Suite language just to support their use of Forms and Reports which is, in fact, only a small part of the whole system. This would then introduce unnecessary costs as well as potential downtime, and Miami-Dade County already had two other middleware stacks available (IBM’s WebSphere Java and Microsoft’s IIS.NET) and didn’t want to incur the cost of a third. The decision was made to modernize their applications and associated databases to one or other of these solutions.
However, this path also presented challenges. Not upgrading to WebLogic meant a race between getting the applications modernized and the mounting issues caused by having to maintain outdated infrastructure, including:
– Support: Support for Forms and Reports ended in 2011 and Miami-Dade County was quickly at the highest supported version of the databases underpinning these applications. This meant the database too would eventually be out of support causing major maintenance issues while the applications are modernized.
– Cost: Until all application modernizations are completed, the county will have to maintain the existing Oracle infrastructure for just a handful of applications, resulting in several hundred thousand dollars in licensing and hardware costs annually.
– Security: Since Oracle was no longer supporting either Forms/Reports or the Oracle Application Server (which was stuck on Windows Server 2003), updated security patches were not available. Special software needed to be procured to protect OAS.
– User Experience: Stability issues meant users (generally County employees) had to spend hours loading and reloading applications. As the old Oracle Forms applications became more outdated, stability of the applications was becoming progressively worse and it looked like they may soon stop working altogether.
In December 2011, Miami-Dade County began a months-long process to both scope the issue and find the best solution. They determined that 60 different applications were effected, including nearly 1,000 forms and more than 1,300 reports. While some apps could be re-written, retired or rationalized, many needed to be modernized. Morphis was determined to be the best solution for their needs assessment based on:
– Morphis’ ability to migrate the database to SQL Server database, something other competitors did not offer
– The ability to re-architect to either .NET and Java, something only Morphis offered
– Morphis’ superior tools and methodologies
In June 2013, the first project started — modernizing Impact Fees from Oracle Forms to .NET — and went into production in May 2014. Apps currently being modernized include Garbage Roster, Paving Restoration, Special Tax and Calculation (STC), Case Management System and the ICI Billing System.
The majority of the apps are used internally (for example, the Impact Fees app is used by the building department), and many of the modernization projects also include enhancements to the applications. Some of the applications were completely modernized by Morphis, while other modernization projects were carried out internally by Miami-Dade County using the Morphis toolset. The decision on which approach to take was made by the Miami-Dade County application developers and depended on existing workload and availability of resources.
To date, Morphis has completed the modernization of approximately 10 apps with as many as 13 planned to begin soon. Best of all, they have been able to accomplish this while addressing all security and user experience issues, extending the functionality of some apps, and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars over alternative solutions.