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No Reprieve: Date set for Elite Enterprise execution, er it's all Microsoft's fault

The next release of Thomson Reuters Elite Enterprise (version 3.11, scheduled for Q2 2016) will be the last packaged enhancement release for this platform. In line with Microsoft’s previously announced timetable, bug fixes for all supported versions of Enterprise will end by December 31, 2022.

This morning Eric Ruud, Managing Director, Thomson Reuters Elite, sent out this message to all the company’s Elite Enterprise sites…
“I am writing today to provide you with some important information regarding the future of the Enterprise platform, which has led the industry for more than two decades.
“Thomson Reuters Elite’s Enterprise platform is over 25 years old and has aged to the point that it is no longer feasible to maintain compatibility with new technology indefinitely. In addition, Microsoft has previously announced the end-of-support timetable for a number of related technologies, such as Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Understandably, this has necessitated that we put into place a robust plan to ensure an effective and successful progression for our customers currently using the Enterprise platform.
“In that context, we wanted to let you know that the next release of Enterprise (version 3.11, scheduled for Q2 2016) will be the last packaged enhancement release for this platform. In line with Microsoft’s previously announced timetable, bug fixes for all supported versions of Enterprise will end by December 31, 2022. Elite will continue to provide responsive phone and portal support for all versions of Enterprise to help our clients successfully run their businesses while planning their progression.
“This timetable effectively gives you up to seven years to plan and implement a transition from Enterprise, depending on which version of Enterprise and which Microsoft platform you are running.
“We understand that you likely have a number of questions about this transition and how it will impact your business. To learn more about our plans for Enterprise, we hope that you are able to join us for a special 30-minute webinar at one of the times listed below, during which our executive leadership team will outline the progression timetable for Enterprise in greater detail. This webinar is also an opportunity to learn more about the resources, tools and support channels which have been created to guide and equip you to plan your next steps.
Register for the Webinar:
• US and EMEA: Tuesday, February 23 at 11am ET/4pm GMT
• Asia Pacific: Wednesday, February 24 at 9am AEDT
“Our relationship with you and your firm is of the highest importance to us, and the entire Elite team is wholeheartedly committed to helping you plan a successful path forward. A member of the Elite team will be reaching out to your firm over the coming days to further discuss this announcement.”
COMMENT: Well the writing was all was on the wall for Enterprise – and by 2022 it will be 30 years old, which is pretty good going for computer software but this announcement does raise questions – not least the fact Thomson Reuters seem to be trying to shift some of the blame onto Microsoft!
The first big question is where will Enterprise users go as the Thomson Reuters successor product 3E is still dogged by the reputation of being very expensive and difficult to implement. Then there are the timescales “up to seven years to plan and implement a transition from Enterprise” sounds reasonable but given the huge number of sites still on Enterprise, that means Elite is going to have to switch firms to 3E at a rate of nearly two a week, every week, until 2022. And that isn’t happening. In fact even the competitors out there will probably struggle with processing such a sudden huge influx of new business.
So, Elite have bitten the bullet and finally made the announcement. A lot of law firm finance and IT directors will be looking at their schedules and wondering if now is a good time to move out of legal or else start planning for early retirement. Computer consultants will be stocking up on paper on which to produce RFIs, ITTs and proposal documents. And in the offices of Aderant, LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions and Peppermint Technology – the three most likely beneficiaries – sales staff will be pinching themselves and wondering if all their birthdays have come at once.
Oh yes, and Elite Enterprise has officially taken over from Microsoft Sharepoint as the legal IT industry’s Monty Python parrot!

7 replies on “No Reprieve: Date set for Elite Enterprise execution, er it's all Microsoft's fault”

Hiding behind Microsoft is poor in my opinion. Why not be honest and admit that you no longer want two products doing more or less the same thing. (or indeed that perhaps you no longer want mid tier clients?)
… Tim, I think they made it abundantly clear they don’t want mid-tier clients when they dumped the Pilgrim Lawsoft/Envision product in December 2014 – they blamed that on the product’s age as well, despite it being the same vintage as 3E – Charles Christian

Eric indicating that MS Server is root cause of the problem is misguided at best, lying at worst. Microsoft has migration paths from Windows Server 2008 to 2012, and will have a similar migration path for Windows Server 2016, and already has migration paths to the cloud. There’s always been migration options for MS products, and the migration isn’t unreasonably difficult.
So this, to me is simply of case of trying to blame the firm not in the room.

Tim, I don’t fully disagree with blame comment. But I take another view of the statement. Its really a cry that TRE are unable to keep pace with MS. Plus to shift Enterprise to the next SQL platform would be perhaps a step too far for this vintage classic as it groans along?
As an Enterprise user the statement around end of life has been the worst kept secret for about 5 years now. We all knew that the product couldn’t live pass 12/31/2025 (or should I say 31/12/2025) due to wonderful hardcoded programming, which itself will require a large effort to fix.
We have just been playing chicken with how long will TRE wait to formalize the position before we HAVE to act. I think what TRE are guilty/remiss of is to not create an easy pathway to migrate to the new world of 3e. I think we all would have been happy to jump on the bus if there was a clear methodology to go from a to b, without the need to break the bank. There may well be now, but perhaps five years too late… 700+ clients to move is never going to happen not even in 7 years. There will be a lot of unhappy campers out there..

We all know that platforms have a lifetime. That’s why we buy software rather than build it if we can. We leave that part, the sustainability part to the experts. Of course that assumes that the company you have invested a lot of time and money in manages their upgrade and release cycle to adopt new technologies AND help us digest technology change. (Oh yes, I almost forgot delivering new and useful features). We have seen a few companies struggle to leap from one tech platform to another, yet until TR I have not come across one that uses my huge maintenance fees to subsidise development of their new platform, then tells me I need to buy it in order to keep functioning. The maintenance we pay is substantial and they aren’t even looking at reducing it now they have ‘officially’ frozen the product. This is not acceptable so is creating a bias in the firm to find someone else at all costs.

There are many factors which TRE has had to consider in establishing EOL for Enterprise. For example, the Enterprise client is built on VB6. The VB6 EOL has been a moving target with Microsoft and has frustrated more VB6 developers than just Elite. And VB6 is but one of the many components (MKS, Fulcrum/Hummingbird/OpenText, C++ runtime, etc) which make up a complete Enterprise installation. Each component has a its own life cycle, supported OS platforms (sometimes down to the service pack level), interoperability concerns, etc.
It’s a complex and fluid matrix. I know the woman at TRE who manages it and I don’t envy her task.

Enterprise has had an amazing run – and it’s a powerful, flexible and robust product. I see a great future for 3E but do not think it reasonable to get the whole user community converted in this timeframe. Beacon is right here in the mix and look forward to helping Enterprise and 3E clients which ever way you decide to flow.

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