The cloud update trap

What happens when business solutions from the app store are no longer developed further?

Microsoft is increasingly pushing its partners to provide industry applications via the cloud in its own AppSource store. When you ask around in the partner community, many comply with this wish as their status qualification also depends on it. This works well as long as the solutions continue to be maintained and further developed. Instead of a purchase price and maintenance fee, customers pay a monthly rental fee - so far, so familiar.

How long are business-critical apps compatible?

What happens, though, if further development of a third-party app is discontinued, and the app no longer runs on the latest version of the ERP software? This is not critical for a zip code search. However, industry solutions are increasingly being distributed via marketplaces such as Microsoft's AppSource and deployed accordingly. Here, the loss of app functionality is much more critical.

Let's stay with the example of Microsoft: systems have to be updated twice a year; under 'One Version', Microsoft offers continuous updates throughout the year. Backward compatibility is to ensure that older apps also run on the latest ERP version, but for how long can this be maintained?

Problems that do not exist with on-prem software

In the on-premises era, users were able to protect themselves better, for example by handing over the source code, or by ignoring updates. Once the system was up and running, it remained untouched. In the cloud, this path is blocked.

Is this a rather theoretical concern? It may be, but just as partners merge or go out of business, cloud services may also be discontinued, as Microsoft did with Microsoft Cloud Germany. The companies that were running their CRM applications on that platform had to move.

Users should take precautions vis-à-vis their software providers

Users should proactively discuss with their partners/ISVs issues such as the planned duration of availability and further development to have maximum certainty about the further development of the application. Also, they should establish from the start who actually owns the low-code developments and the test system, and how the system can be accessed in the event of conflicts with the partner. Partner changes do happen, and companies should be prepared for them.

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