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Don’t let legacy workloads limit modernization

Joshua Stenhouse 0

Let’s say you’ve been driving the same car for the past 20 years. It wasn’t a cheap car to begin with, it requires constant maintenance, and the bills have skyrocketed. You could’ve already replaced it, but it’s always been easier to just keep it running. Newer cars are now way more efficient, require less maintenance, some can even drive themselves, and switching will save you money.

Would you say no just because it doesn’t have a tape player?

No, you wouldn’t. But companies still make this mistake when it comes to technology. If a minority of your environment isn’t supported by a newer more efficient technology, that isn’t a reason not to modernize, it’s the opposite. It’s exactly why you should.

Keep the tape player for your tapes.

Everything else can and should be modernized. You’re already behind by still having these still running, don’t fall further behind by compromising everything else.

In fact, even if the newer technology does eventually support your legacy workload the reverse is true. Just because it can doesn’t mean you always should. If you have a 20 year old tape and it plays on your tape player, keep it for that tape.

Scale your legacy solution down to what it does best.

The platforms it was created to serve, not use it for platforms and use cases it was never originally designed for as that is where it always falls short.

This is exactly why you shouldn’t try to upgrade your 10 or 20 year old system and think that because the vendor says it can do now the same as the newer players that it really can, it’s a series of bolt-ons on old tech. A phone playing via aux cable in your 20 year old car can stream music, but you didn’t fix any of the fundamental issues.

With each new release the legacy vendor says this time it really is the same/better as the newer players, paying no regard to the last release where they said the same. This time it really is a secure hardened appliance. It’s just as fast. It can store more. It really does scale-out. It can instantly leverage cloud. We don’t do FUD, but here’s a document of FUD (most of which is completely inaccurate). Always the same claims.

While it looks like it can match or even better on paper, that’s just marketing and sales people selling the only thing they can and doing whatever it takes to compete. It’s the maintenance sales person trying to convince you the car can be like new by putting a new coat of paint on it. But,

The compromises of being built on legacy code with decades of technical debt prevent old rebadged solutions ever being able to actually deliver the benefits and value of newer tech.

It really is that simple. To prove my point I’ll give you a perfect example of a vendor saying it has the latest tech that can do the same as a newer player, but in reality it failed to deliver because it was based on legacy tech. I recently wanted to invest in a digital whiteboard for working from home (as we definitely aren’t meeting anyone in person again in 2020). I came across this digital whiteboard from Dell:

Look at the pictures, the features, the price, it’s going to modernize the way I work! I wanted a Surface hub ever since using it in a customer meeting and it was the perfect digital experience, but I settled for the Dell because it looked the same on paper and was cheaper.  

Legacy tech masquerading as new

I should’ve known when the delivery truck arrived and it took 2 people struggling to get it offloaded. My first problem was I didn’t check the weight, it was 121 pounds! Newer integrated tech is half this and it was too heavy to mount on the wall. I had to buy a special TV cart just to get it to head height. The weight was due to it using a thick layer of glass as the touch interface. This meant that while it did the same “on paper”, the pens made a scratching noise, I couldn’t rest my palm on the screen so the quality of my drawing was poor, and I was the screen itself was half an inch behind where I was writing so it didn’t feel like you were writing where I wanted.

What I should’ve bought

Put it altogether and I had made a $2000 technology mistake. It didn’t deliver on a single thing that actually would have made it a useful solution to modernize my way of working remotely. I should’ve gone with the Surface hub, and even considering cost, it doesn’t really matter what the cost difference is if only 1 solution actually modernizes.

But if you can modernize and save cost, then you really are shooting yourself in the foot by saying no, it doesn’t play tapes.

Thanks for reading,


P.S big thanks to Dell for the refund, if only they did refunds for IDPA!

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