Today, January 12, 2016, Microsoft is ceasing support for Internet Explorer 8. If you’re a Siebel Clinical user, that news probably made your stomach drop, since IE8 is the highest version of Internet Explorer that works with Siebel pre-18.104.22.168.
What does that mean for those of you running old versions of Siebel? Well, you can choose to maintain the status quo, but there are risks in doing so, especially around security. The longer a browser is unsupported, the more vulnerable it becomes to hackers, and no one wants their clinical trial data hacked.
If you want to protect yourself, you’ll need to make some changes, and the sooner you make them, the better. Here are your options:
Access Siebel via Citrix
As an interim solution, you can have all of your Siebel Clinical users access Siebel via Citrix virtual private network (VPN). This temporary Band-Aid helps to minimize security risks, but it doesn’t avoid the inevitable bugginess that accompanies an unsupported browser, and we all know how browser-dependent old Siebel is (ActiveX controls, anyone?).
Even if you choose to take this short-term step, you’ll need to plan for one of the following longer-term solutions.
Upgrade, Regression Test
This is the traditional approach to these situations and, in certain circumstances, it can be the most cost-effective. Those circumstances? When your instance of Siebel has minimal customizations.
The more customizations you’ve made to your instance, the more pieces have the potential to “break” during the upgrade, which means the more testing (and fixing) you’ll need to do as part of the project. If you’ve made a lot of customizations, the regression testing and bug fixes can become quite costly.
However, this option is probably best for those of you who have lots of data in your Siebel instance (and want to keep it there) because there’s no data migration involved.
Install Fresh, Re-customize, Re-validate
The idea of (almost) starting over might seem preposterous, but hear me out. In this scenario, there are no patch upgrades involved, which means there is no need for regression testing. There’s also a good chance that some portion of the code could be exported from your existing instance and imported into your new instance (via SIF files), thus minimizing the (re-)development time and cost.
The potential downside of this option is the data migration effort. Depending on how much of your existing data you want to maintain in your Siebel instance, the data migration could be hefty. But, you could minimize that effort by electing to only migrate, say, your active studies. Or you could avoid it all together by using both instances in parallel until your old studies wrap up and you decommission the old instance.
In terms of documentation, the difference is between a change control with test cases (upgrade option) and a validation with test cases (fresh install option). Depending on how you handle validations vs. change controls, the deliverables might not be that different. Plus, a re-validation allows you to start over with a clean, fresh set of documents for your system, which might appeal to those of you who installed way way back and have undergone several change controls.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of this option is that it makes it easy to incorporate additional changes into the project. So, if you’ve been keeping a wish list of changes you want to make, this is the way you want to go.
Decommission Siebel Clinical, Implement a New CTMS
While I’m certainly not advocating abandoning the leading CTMS or the investments you’ve made in your system thus far, this is an option that deserves some consideration. It really depends on whether Siebel will continue to meet your needs over the course of the next 5+ years. If Siebel isn’t working for you, or it doesn’t look like it’s going to keep working for you, there’s no point in investing money in an upgrade or fresh install. It makes more sense to consider switching to a new CTMS.
If you need help setting up Citrix or if you aren’t sure which option (or CTMS) is right for you, we’d be happy to help you think it through. Just drop us a line.