Migration of the County’s Mission Critical Property System Retains Two Decades of Business Investment, Enabling IT to Better Support Future Business Needs
Solano County’s CIO Ira Rosenthal and IT Director Dan Tolvtvar faced a major decision when they learned that the platform that hosted their home-grown Solano County Integrated Property System (SCIPS) was no longer supported by the vendor. Should they try a packaged solution to replace their mission-critical system for tax assessments, billing, collections, disbursements and audits, or preserve the system and try a migration? Maintaining business continuity and reliability as they made the transition to a sustainable new platform was a paramount concern, so Rosenthal and Tolvtvar opted for a migration strategy.
The Business Case for Migration
When Hewlett-Packard announced end of life for the HP e3000, Solano County faced a business issue familiar to many enterprises. Confronted with the obsolescence of the platform, the county’s mission-critical property tax system was now at risk. The IT team began to investigate its options: move to a Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) application, rewrite the system or migrate it to a newer platform. Whatever the decision, an answer needed to be found, and found quickly. An unsupported platform was not an acceptable long-term option.
The move to a COTS application seemed to offer a relatively simple solution, but after examining several candidates in the market, Solano County’s CIO Ira Rosenthal and IT Director Dan Tolvtvar concluded that a commercial property tax software package couldn’t compare to the rich, multi-level functionality of their home-grown SCIPS system. The county’s Integrated Property System had been developed over more than two decades, and no packaged application could match the functionality of the home-grown system.
Discovery Analysis: Aligning IT with the Business
Fresche’s Discovery Analysis was an essential step in Solano County’s migration process, as it clearly defined and confirmed all of the target technologies needed to properly support the county’s unique business needs, and laid out a solid plan for retaining the SCIPS system. As Dan Tolvtvar pointed out, replacement would not be a simple rip and replace effort. California has 58 counties, each with its own property tax system built on different platforms and technologies, so there is no one-size-fits-all packaged solution that could serve as a replacement and ensure the future viability and development of these critical systems.
A Bright Future after a Low-Risk Migration
With the analysis complete, Solano County and Fresche developers teamed up to perform the SCIPS migration. Fresche leveraged its own automated toolset, AMXW, to migrate the county’s COBOL to Micro Focus COBOL, and managed all third-party migration partners, including the critical conversion of PowerHouse to .NET. A conversion to .NET on Windows and the migration from COBOL to Micro Focus COBOL on AIX were equally important to the migration effort, and necessary in making future system maintenance easier.
Solano County developers are now working on a re-architecture of the supplemental tax system and are trying to eliminate the online COBOL portion of the application. Thanks to Fresche Legacy’s migration efforts, these projects will be enormously aided by the new open platform and the modernized technology base.
FRESCHE LEGACY’S DISCOVERY ANALYSIS PROVIDED:
- A thorough investigation of the county’s current SCIPS environment from the perspective of business, IT, current resources and future goals
- Migration options and recommendations, taking into account Solano County’s migration priorities
- Complete project plan and timeline, including work breakdown, resource plan, and description of all activities
- Detailed project budget
- Confirmation of Solano County’s desire to migrate to a distributed .NET/AIX platform with a conversion of PowerHouse to .NET. The assessment included an impact analysis of the conversion to .NET.
KEY BENEFITS OF THE MIGRATION:
- Eliminated the risk of running on an obsolete platform
- Maintained business continuity by eliminating outdated technology
- Maximized existing IT investment by modernizing and reviving valuable SCIPS business logic
- Positioned system for easier development
- Saved money by avoiding costly packages and re-write efforts.