As we come to the close of another Blogging Idol marathon, perhaps waxing a little philosophical would make sense (and it was asked for anyway, so here goes!).
Bruce Stewart has talked quite a bit about the “old school” aspects of the IT organization in the enterprise, including proceses and management styles. What I took from his comments is that life in the IT fastlane is continuous, with overlapping waves of technology and many differences in both the tools and the style. But the global objective is always to use IT, whatever its vintage, to further business goals and objectives. I thnk it is a “principle of operation” for IT that they are there to help the organization do a better job, regardless of the technology.
So, no one should object to using “old school” technology if it’s still the best choice. But there’s a lot of wisdom in the Hype Cycle theory with its views on timing the adoption of new technologies. For example, there’s nothing wrong with using an “old school” data centre while waiting for the right time to add cloud-based services to the mix.
I think that enterprise IT decisions should be based on business cases and good decision logic. There is a lifecycle for technology sustainment – it’s time to retire old-school solutions if they are costly to maintain and ineffective for the business. That isn’t necessarily the same thinking we would apply to our personal technologies at home! I would still like to have my Commodore Amiga (and I did store it in a box for a long time after I stopped using it). I’m sure some people still have “old-school” game machines sitting around. Watches too – who uses “old-school” mechanical watches?
The topic of old-school technologies isn’ta simple one. Most IT operations managers probably haven’t really thought through the whole area of technology management and technology lifecycles, although this topic is becoming more important with the rapid change in how IT is delivered. I’m not sure if there’s university courses that discuss the impact of “old school” technologies and what to do with them, but it will be important as the systems of the 70s and 80s need to be phased out.
One company I know of (Futurestate IT) has developed tools for “application currency management” but this could be expanded to include all IT assets – hardware, networks, processes, people skills, information, etc. The need to manage how up-to-date software and hardware is has emerged as an area of specialty - managing the move away from Windows XP (old-school?) to Windows 7 (almost old-school?) and on to Windows 8 is just one example.
Some total - managers need to consider what is old-school for their environment, need to decide how best to manage a mix of old- and new-school systems, and must decide if what needs to be replaced when (this sounds like a reserve fund study in a condo building!).