Storagebod Rotating Header Image

Toxic IT?

Often we find ourselves talking about Legacy IT; especially when we are discussing the move to ‘Cloud’. What do we do with the legacy? At CloudCamp London, Simon Wardley has suggested that we need to start calling Legacy IT, Toxic IT. And the more I think about it, the more I agree but not just when are talking about the move to Cloud.

Many organisations have Legacy IT; oh, the accounts system; that’s legacy; the HR systems, they are legacy; that really important system which we rely on and is foundational, that’s legacy. What? These are all key systems, how have they become legacy? And the longer we leave them, the more toxic they become.

Businesses and especially Enterprises run on legacy systems; whilst we rush to the new and roll-out exciting services built on the new Cloud, we leave the legacy behind. And so they moulder and rot eventually become toxic.

All of us working in Enterprise IT can probably point to at least one key service which is running on infrastructure (hardware and software) that is long out of support. Services which may well be responsible to a large proportion of the company’s revenue or the company’s survival. These services have been around since the company was founded; that’s why I talk about them being foundational.

But why are they left behind, maybe it’s because it is easier to ask for budget for new stuff that brings new value and markets to a company? What is the return on investment on maintaining your account systems? It’s not going to add to your bottom line is it? Still, if your accounts systems collapses; you won’t even know what you your bottom line is.

So, that Legacy IT; it’s rapidly becoming toxic and it is going to cost you more and more to clean up that toxic pile the longer you leave it.

I think it’s time for many Enterprises to run an Honesty Commission where they ask their IT teams to identify all systems which are becoming toxic and commit to cleaning it up. Just because it hasn’t broke yet, it does not mean that it is not broken! Just because your services are not showing symptoms of toxicity, it does not mean that they are not slowly breaking down. Many poisons work rather slowly.

Yes, you might decide that you are going to move it to the Cloud but you might just commit to maintaining it properly.

One Comment

  1. Ed says:

    As I currently work for an IT outsourcer, I get confronted by a few of these toxic spills. Because – for now – they work. So no one ever wants to spend significant amounts of money on it. Nor does anyone want to take responsibility for a poisoned chalice – let’s face it, projects where the best possible outcome is not to screw it up are hardly popular. It’s why I’ve argued long and hard that service charging Needs to include lifecycle overhead – as it gets older, it costs more.
    But part of the problem is stale data. I don’t know many companies that don’t have a “shared drive” or similar, that gets gradually more cluttered, and when someone moves on, their clutter gets fossilised, as no one wants to delete it, in case it was important. ILM i think the term was… But I have yet to see the necessary paradigm shift that would make ILM integral to the service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *