Software migration - decision making. Why to start thinking about it in the EV charging industry?

12 MAY 2023 • 9 MIN READ

Paweł Małkowiak



Software migration - decision making

For those interested in the topic of software migration (both Charge Point Operators and eMobility Service Providers), we have published a comprehensive ebook with a bonus list of OCPP Acceptance Testing procedures. Platform Migration for EV Charging Businesses is available for free.

It’s probably every year that we get to hear that it’s the most technology-progressing year to date. And it’s most probably always true, given the galloping pace of the tech industry worldwide. Staying up-to-date with the latest technological advancements has become more important than ever before. The emergence of new hardware, software, and AI solutions has created new opportunities for businesses to streamline their operations, enhance customer experiences, and gain a competitive edge. However, the momentum of innovation in the tech industry has become so unparalleled, that businesses which fail to adapt and evolve with the times are bound to fall behind.

With that, in times so inundated with newly-introduced breakthroughs and changes of direction, one must put a great effort to stay afloat. This includes making often gnarly decisions on what’s the best for the company here and now. Entrepreneurs are left with the need to carefully evaluate which technologies are relevant to their specific needs, plan for their adoption, and ensure that their teams are trained to use them effectively. Those who do not take proactive steps to embrace the latest technological advancements risk being left behind by their competitors.

All this is highly applicable to anyone using any type of software. Those who run their business with the use of digital technology, will at some point face the intricate case of software migration.

It’s becoming an especially daring task once the aforementioned software manages an entire charging network reckoning thousands of charging points.

Software migration in EV charging business - what drives the need?

The growth of electric vehicles has fueled the development of software solutions aimed at streamlining the EV charging business. Software developers are creating innovative applications that enable EV drivers to find and reserve charging stations, pay for their charging sessions, and monitor their charging status remotely. These software solutions are also helping charging station operators to manage their charging infrastructure more efficiently by providing real-time data on charging usage, optimizing energy distribution, and identifying maintenance needs. Additionally, software is being developed to integrate EV charging with smart grids, allowing for better load management and the use of renewable energy sources.

With ongoing advancements in software development, the EV charging business is becoming more user-friendly, reliable, and environmentally sustainable. However, there are some obstacles on the path to achieving the optimum pitch. Here’s where continuous upgrades, including software migration, strike as a must.

Software migration involves transferring an existing software system from one environment to another, such as switching operating systems, hardware platforms, or programming languages. This is typically necessary when organizations need to update or replace their software to keep up with their evolving needs and the latest technology. Software migration can be a complex and challenging process, and it requires careful planning, testing, and execution to ensure a successful outcome.

Within the eMobility ecosystem one can observe a vivid differentiation between Charge Point Operators and the software providers, leaving some of the crucial data in the latter hands. Meanwhile it's the CPOs that happen to know the industry best and experience first-handedly how the needs are changing.

Prime example of such change is the volume of chargers that comes to the equation and the legacy tech stack. (Legacy tech stack refers to a set of outdated technologies, tools, and programming languages that are still in use in various software applications and systems. These technologies were popular in the past but have become obsolete or are no longer widely supported by their respective vendors. While legacy tech stack may still work, it can create various issues for businesses, including security vulnerabilities, higher maintenance costs, and a lack of scalability). In the eMobility business, legacy tech stack (that’s still in use by some) was designed to serve a couple hundred charging stations at best. Nowadays, some operators have thousands of chargers within one network and require a whole new level of adjustability from the software solutions that are used to manage the network.

As software continues to evolve, outdated versions become less reliable and less secure. Newer software solutions offer upgraded features and enhanced security, making them a more enticing option for users. Businesses must adapt to stay competitive in the ever-changing digital landscape.

To focus strictly on how that’s driven within the eMobility industry, we distinguish two prime areas within which one needs to decide on the pros and cons of software upgrades. The first involves all the rudimentary arguments regarding the digital products themselves. The second requires some more thoughts and is touching upon the strategic aspects of running a business.

Product-based arguments in favour of software migration

As briefly mentioned before, the first area that needs to be considered involves all the aspects relating to a certain digital product as such. This mostly includes the rough technicalities. As for the EV charging software, there’s a few main points to deliberate over:

  • lack of features
  • platform’s stability
  • poor technical support
  • not meeting legal requirements

In addition to the above, there are several other reasons why businesses in the EV charging industry may need to consider software migration. For example, outdated software may be incompatible with new hardware, making it difficult to integrate with the latest charging infrastructure. Additionally, new regulations and industry standards may require businesses to update their software to newer versions.

But for now let’s focus on the 4 main points.

Lack of features

As the EV charging industry continues to evolve, businesses may find that their current software lacks essential features that are now in demand. For instance, customers may expect to have access to real-time information on charging station availability and pricing, as well as the ability to reserve and pay for charging sessions through a mobile app. If businesses fail to provide these features, they risk losing customers to competitors with more advanced software solutions.

Platform stability

Outdated software in the EV charging industry may be unstable and prone to errors, leading to system crashes and downtime. The main issue that can cause major inaccuracies in the case of EV charging software is the lack of stable options for scaling up. As businesses grow and add more charging stations to their infrastructure, operators must ensure that the software can handle a higher number of sockets or clients without experiencing system failures. For instance, if a software solution can only handle a certain number of charging stations or users, it can become overwhelmed and crash when businesses try to add more chargers to their network. Upgrading to new software with more advanced features and scalable options can help businesses avoid system failures, reduce downtime, and ensure the smooth operation of their charging infrastructure as they grow.

Poor technical support

When businesses in the EV charging industry experience technical issues with their outdated software, they may have to deal with lengthy waiting times for ticket resolution. For example, if a charging station becomes disconnected from the software system, it may be difficult for businesses to diagnose and fix the problem without technical support from the software vendor. In some cases, businesses may have to wait for days or even weeks for a ticket resolution, leading to increased downtime and lost revenue. By upgrading to new software, businesses can receive faster and more reliable technical support, reducing waiting times and minimizing disruptions to their charging infrastructure.

Outdated EV charging software may also fail to meet legal requirements set by regulatory bodies, leading to compliance issues and potentially even fines or legal action. Regulations around EV charging infrastructure can vary by region and may include requirements related to data privacy, accessibility, and environmental impact. If businesses are using outdated software that does not meet these requirements, they risk running afoul of regulatory bodies and facing legal consequences. By upgrading to newer software solutions that are compliant with relevant regulations, businesses can ensure they are operating within legal guidelines and avoid any potential legal or financial repercussions.

Business-strategic arguments in favour of software migration

The second side of the decision-making process involves less straightforward and transparent aspects. It goes beyond the easily-measured technicalities and reaches the more risky business-strategic field. While it may look intimidating to some of the business owners, the right decision within this sphere may lead to significant highs and prosperous growth. Below, we list some of the points to consider when assessing the strategic aspects.

Data ownership

In the EV charging business, data ownership is a major concern, and it may be a good reason for businesses to migrate to a different software provider. With outdated software, businesses may not have complete control over their data, and may even face legal issues related to data ownership and privacy. This especially happens with a SaaS business model. Given the amount of data held by Charge Point Operators and eMobility Service Providers (often including sensitive payment details), companies may have specific policies regarding the storage and usage of their data, and may not be comfortable hosting it on a third-party cloud without proper security measures. By migrating to a new software provider, businesses can ensure that they have complete control over their data, comply with relevant data protection regulations, and host their data in a secure and compliant manner.

Risk assessment

Risk assessment is a critical aspect of any business, and the EV charging industry is no exception. One of the most crucial components within a CPO's infrastructure is the software that controls their charging stations. However, this software is often owned and controlled by a third party, leaving CPOs exposed to potential risks that they may have little control over. Investing millions in a network of chargers only amplifies these risks, making it essential for CPOs to assess the potential hazards and implement mitigation strategies. One solution could be to migrate to proprietary software or purchase a license to reduce dependency on third-party providers and gain more control over their systems. By taking proactive measures to address potential risks, CPOs can minimize disruptions and protect their business from financial and reputational harm.

Competitive advantage

Upgrading to new software can provide businesses with access to cutting-edge features and functionality, giving them an edge over their competitors. By contrast, using outdated software can limit a business's ability to innovate and differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Old software can sometimes prevent upgrades and new features from being added unless every other user has them too (this usually happens with SaaS solutions). This can leave all the businesses in the industry with the same limited solution, reducing the opportunity for a competitive edge. By assessing the available software options and migrating to a software provider that allows for custom changes within a unique IP, businesses can gain an even greater competitive edge. By owning the unique IP, a CPO can ensure that any customization or changes made to the software remain their intellectual property and are not freely used by others. Purchasing a license for a proprietary software solution can provide a CPO with full control over their software and the ability to customize it to their specific needs, without worrying about other users in the industry having access to the same features.

To remain competitive in today's fast-paced technological world, it is essential for businesses to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in software, hardware, and AI solutions. This is especially true for those in the EV charging industry, as software solutions are continuously being developed to streamline EV charging and make it more environmentally sustainable. However, with the rapid pace of technological innovation, businesses must also be willing to adapt and evolve with the times. Software migration, although a complex and challenging process, is necessary for companies to keep up with evolving needs and the latest technology. By doing so, businesses can ensure they are meeting the requirements of their customers, complying with regulations, and maintaining a competitive edge.