Urchin EOL, But Your Data Is Still Alive
As you’ve probably heard, Google is retiring the Urchin product line in two weeks on March 28th. Urchin will continue functioning after that date, but new licenses will not be available for sale, and existing licenses won’t be upgraded. It has served us pretty well until now, but its age is showing.
Avoiding Zombie Urchin
So is it the end for Urchin? It doesn’t have to be. As long as your IT organization can maintain a server that runs Urchin, running a compatible Windows or Linux installation, Urchin will keep sifting and sorting your server logs and telling you what you (hopefully) want to hear. Eventually that’s going to become a maintenance headache though, as undead software usually does.
Legacy systems aren’t fun for anyone. Your organization may update its infrastructure, and the system may need an entirely separate management system to keep running; some organizations may already have Urchin running on systems that they can’t centrally manage. As current Urchin installations age, this will become an increasingly heavy burden. Then there’s the simple fact of operating system updates – living software has to keep moving, and Urchin will not – eventually something will break, and there may be nothing you can do about it.
Urchin’s officially compatible with:
- Linux 2.6, Windows Server 2008, and FreeBSD 6/7
- MySQL 5 or PostgreSQL
In order to keep running Urchin, you’d have to maintain systems compatible with some combination of these versions. At some point, upgrades will no longer be compatible and you’ll have to maintain a stagnant system. That point may be coming soon. Linux is already moving ahead to 3.3, FreeBSD calls 7 “legacy” and 9.0 “production,” and Windows 8 is already in preview.
Another option is to run Urchin in a virtualized environment, which can mitigate some of the risks of running legacy software. I should also note Analytics Pros’ Urchin Hosting service – the only cloud hosting system specifically designed for Urchin. We’ll continue to operate Urchin for you without burdening your IT department with legacy platforms.
There Is An After-Life For Your Urchin Data
Urchin’s data is locked up tight in proprietary databases, and if you haven’t kept original server logfiles around, your data is pretty much entombed within this closed data model. However, there is a way out, thanks to the Urchin API. Through the API you can export data directly as XML. The exports provide access to Urchin’s data model, but it is still a challenge to use this data. Each XML request has to be iterated across dozens of tables though, potentially thousands of pages each, to retrieve all records for all time that Urchin has stored. Then the data gets translated to database structures and prepared for direct querying.
Note: the Urchin export API v2, which is what allows more access to data, is only available for Urchin 7. If you’re still running Urchin 6 or earlier, now is the time to upgrade to version 7!
Thus, even if you can’t (or don’t want to) keep Urchin running, your data can still be accessible and take on a life of its own. For example, Analytics Pros has developed an export system for converting Urchin’s data to standard database formats and we can even re-create web traffic logs for analysis in other tools based on every hit your Urchin has ever seen. Essentially you could say your data can be still alive – for science.
With our approach, every profile can be resurrected into a new life of database queries, which you can analyze using any number of external tools. You can write your own web reporting around it using Google’s Chart Tools, or analyze it on your own desktop using tools like Microsoft Excel. You can even continue pushing new data into the database from live systems, so your in-house reporting solution will continue to meet your organization’s needs.
Analytics Pros can help you extract your data from Urchin – all that’s needed is access to Urchin’s web service. Our extraction process currently targets the PostgreSQL database for the data destination, but the process is flexible and we can accommodate many other platforms.
Urchin May Be Retiring, But Your Data Doesn’t Have To!
To summarize, you DO have options with Urchin beyond the retirement date. These include:
- Keep running Urchin as long as you can maintain a compatable operating environment
- Export your data using the V7 REST API
- Contact our team if you are interested in learning more about our cloud-based hosting for Urchin system archival or our fulldata extraction services for complete Urchin recovery