Separating the OutSystems Platform at a Major International Marine Shipping Company
How Accelerated Focus successfully split their client's OutSystems infrastructure after a division of the company was acquired by another organization.
One of Accelerated Focus's clients, a major transport company, recently went through a significant organizational split and subsequent sale of one division. The original organization would keep its existing IT infrastructure, and the new company would need a platform set up, including the migration and customization of all the individual applications. Following the sale, IT teams on both sides had substantial projects ahead of them.
The timing was critical to the project's success, with the sale announced in October 2021 and finalized in January 2022. That left four months to split a complex IT infrastructure with a broad suite of software applications spanning several business units.
One technology utilized widely across the organization was OutSystems. They had been using it since 2019 to support rapid development with significantly smaller teams than traditional platforms. Several business-critical applications were developed and actively utilized in production.
Following the separation, many of the OutSystems applications would need to transition to the new organization. All of these had to be fully functional and running on the latest OutSystems Platform version.
The first migration step was sorting through the various integrations with the existing IT infrastructure. This included connections to the Data Warehouse API, MS Azure DevOps, SharePoint, and several data import/export functions. It was proving to be a complex environment for such broad change. Some of these applications provide critical information and reports to business teams daily, and minimal downtime or loss of functionality was mandatory.
Concurrent Platform Upgrade
An additional layer of complexity was a major platform upgrade of OutSystems, running concurrent with the IT separation activities. This particular platform upgrade was substantial, requiring analysis and configuration changes to all the module components. In some cases, there were deprecated modules that needed replacement. Performing the separation before upgrading the respective environments risked significant labour inefficiencies, yet the timing was a critical factor and expediting the separation was necessary.
The project team formed quickly, composed of a few technical resources and project managers with representation from both companies and Accelerated Focus. This small but performant team configuration was possible thanks to the low-code platform and application management features within OutSystems. A comparable migration project would require two additional development team members and an additional 4-6 weeks minimum to achieve the same results.
The team worked together closely for the 4-month project; 2 months for the platform upgrade and 2 months for the separation, data migration, and remediation activities. This timeline would ensure a clean break of the applications and necessary data remediation within each company.
An Agile/Kanban approach was quickly decided upon to manage epics, user stories, and task activities. Microsoft Azure DevOps was used to manage and track work. Daily development team standups and twice-weekly project team check-ins ensured a quick pace, provided transparency, and mitigated risk. Once the cadence of the progress was evident, the team continued to prioritize work and plan back from target dates to ensure timely delivery.
Upgrading the OutSystems platform in the original environment was the first priority; application separation activities quickly followed. This provided a well-tested platform and application library that could be lifted from the original environment to the new one. Once completed, the team worked on updating and removing non-essential components, managing data, and overall stabilization. The pace slowed as the bulk of the work was complete at this stage. The remaining effort was focused on the API separation between the companies.
One of the major applications migrated. This employee performance analytics tool was designed & developed by Accelerated Focus.
The project was ambitious, taking place during a busy time for both companies. The outcome was successful with no disruption to their critical applications. OutSystems was the first enterprise business application Platform to be separated successfully within the organization. Many others had to manage substantial custom code, integrations, and lengthy release cycles.
A large part of the success was due to the company's initial vision to develop an enterprise API capability. The well-established API framework and data warehouse infrastructure made data migration activities seamless. Resources were able to spend those time savings on further application enhancements. The rapid deployment of OutSystems applications also allowed the team to test often and verify the successful upgrade of components as they occurred.
“Out of our IT portfolio, OutSystems was the first cloud enterprise platform to separate successfully”
“There were several important business applications that we needed to ensure uptime to business units within the organization”
“The deployment process has been very smooth and stress-free”
“It has been refreshing to be able to take ownership of an enterprise application platform, and be able to manage the deployment process easily, and increase the frequency of releasing new features without fragile branch management and weeks of preparation each time”