Monthly Archives: October 2012

What is the I.T Legacy Load Index?

What is your legacy? Probably most of us will have little to hand over to the next generation other than a few sheckles, dodgy furniture and mounting debts. You may have created something or written a book. You may have been a sporty type and achieved a sporting feat of some kind. Its your legacy to the world.

But what about where you work? A legacy may be something your company inherited from its owners or significant staff member. It may include something related to a business process that was left over by a merger. Or it could be a contractual obligation that leaves your company beholding to a supplier or customer due to some legacy deal struck years ago and not revised or revoked.

But what is your IT Legacy Load Index?

A legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program. The legacy system may or may not remain in use. Even if it is no longer used, it may continue to impact the organization due to its historical role or because a maintenance contract is still being paid for even though the kit went into a skip years ago. Oops! Or it may have created a process or workround that everyone follows blindly and has become one of those unwritten rules all new starters have to follow regardless of any conscious thought process.

For a variety of reasons (some rational others not ), a legacy system may continue to be used, sometimes well past its vendor-supported lifetime, resulting in support and maintenance challenges. It may be that the system still provides for the business  needs, even though newer technology or more efficient methods of performing a task are now available. However, the decision to keep an old system may be influenced by economic reasons such as return on investment challenges or vendor lock-in, the inherent challenges of change management, or a variety of other reasons other than functionality. The skills to run the system may be locked into one individual’s head. Or the skills in the market place are running out because of the legacy involved in the application language i.e. no one has the skills anymore or they have simply retired!   |Furthermore a legacy system may include procedures or terminology which are no longer relevant in the current context, and may hinder or confuse understanding of the methods or technologies used.   Oh and finally the term “legacy” may have little to do with the size or age of the system — mainframes run 64-bit Linux and Java alongside 1960s vintage code.

So what is the IT Legacy Load Index.

If you understand service catalog or similar ways of describing IT services then you will get what IT Legacy Load Index looks like. But if you dont below is a little picture.

So imagine a modern cloud based email system. The legacy load index is going to be low. Why? Well the inherent components of the email service belong to someone else. This someone else has all the responsibility for legacy. They refresh the hardware. They manage the maintenance. They license the software. And they keep the skills up to date. Therefore to the business using the service the costs of replacing the email service are potentially low.

Now take a back office Sales Order Processing service. It runs on a platform that is 30 years old. The knowledge is held by a sub-contractor who has since laid off a lot its development team and provides a very basic telephone support on a best endeavours basis. Furthermore the hardware is now well end of life and any spares are like rare records and costs extortionate sums to recover. Any written contracts covering the system are lost and no one really knows how much the system takes to run. More importantly no one really knows how much it would cost to replace. Oh did I saw that if the system ever stopped ( it had been running non stop for years ) the level of confidence to get it back up and running is significantly low. So the IT Legacy Load Index is exceptionally high.

What does this all mean? On its own not a lot but if introduced into the strategic planning for an organisation as they sort through projects to vote in and out the Legacy Load Index is a useful exercise especially if the future state for that Sales Order Processing service resides in a cloud service that can help reduce the legacy ( risk ) load.

Oh and I forgot. We all have a Legacy Load Index. Whats yours?



Please stop saying PIECE.

When did the word ‘piece’ enter the vocabulary of people involved in selling technology? When did this happen? As each day goes by I am amazed ( amused/frustrated/bewildered ) by the number of times ‘we’ use this word as a means of describing technology in some guise or the other.

Decades ago people knew what they needed for IT. More accurately it was probably called MIS. If  somone  had a mainframe they would only deal with people who knew all the parts and service intimately. Technical sales people. It was a sensible and factual conversation. Quotes were obtained, orders placed and  goods delivered. it was a closed shop world where anyone who entered the conversation with words like ‘piece’ were carefully removed and barred for ever. It was a limited word. No one cared about this conversation. Most businesses were ignorant and were content to know the conversations were taking place but didnt care to get involved.

Even as we evolved from mainframe to mini and then client server, the word ‘piece’ was still not part of the vocabulary. OK we had introduced more choice but again a small number of people were ‘specialists’. They were known as Subject Matter Experts (SME) and the conversations were still very prescribed and avoid of fluffy words.

So when did we start saying ‘piece’? I mean for as long as I knew the word ‘piece’ was more common in the journalistic profession.

So here’s the thing. During this mainframe and mini phase ( 1960s through to 70s) the average joe in the street didnt use technology. . When people went home there was no realization of technology. No one had a PC, modem or any form of technology other than a TV and a landline. Even during the 1980s when the WWW entered our lives ( some of us ) the use of technology was still not in our consciousness.  The closest any of us got to the word ‘piece’ was the thing we sat on ( three piece suite! ) 🙂

Was it the Web? or Web 2.0? that introduced us to this word? Was it the advent of internet access from the house? or perhaps SMS texting? Or Mobile phones?  I dont think so.

What was it? WHEN DID WE START USING THIS WORD…!!!!!! Aaggghhh.

Well I think I have a view. And here it is.

At some point technology vendors ( yes lets blame them cos they earn enough ) swallowed the ‘creative presentation’ pill. They overdosed on taking their products and services and presenting them in such an interative way that for many it was almost as if the slides were the finished product and the answer to everyone’s prayers. Back in the old days these audiences were cute. They asked sharp deep dive questions. If you dared stand up in front of these guys you would need a lot more than a fancy slide deck ( even with animation and sounds!) Not knowing your products led to cat calling and red faces. And no sales! Of course. Confused customers dont buy. Remember. In fact we didnt need to do slides. We did demos using the actual technology. You would do a demo, craft a quote and sell something. A simple closed loop.

Then all of a sudden ( was it Y2K – no I dont think so ) all sorts of people ( sales, marketing, business development ) were standing up in front of audiences with no more protection than a bunch of slides. These slides were all they needed. Maybe its Microsoft fault by creating their PowerPoint product!  Perople were taking the context of a particular technology ( voice, cloud, storage, collaboration, security etc ) and  crafting  amazing slides that lept out of the screen and lay claim that the technology was no longer the issue. Job titles emerged out of this revolution – Technical Marketing,  TechnologyEvangelist. These types could easily make the technology ( and the slides )  solve the business problems of the day. Instead of their peers twenty years ago they didnt need to know the deep dive stuff. Slideware suddenly seemed to be the route to market and ‘piece’ was their way to make it all sound easy and uncomplicated.

It was sufficient to gloss the surface as it was assumed the audience didnt need to know anymore.  And the truth is – audiences had changed also. Everyone had gotten used to this new language presumably because they didnt know the deep dive stuff themselves to ask the awkward questions? Customers were also enjoying the freedom that the word ‘piece’ was givning them. They expected the word. They thirsted for the word. Conversations that included  “so the desktop piece…..” or “the storage piece will look like this…” were de facto. It became the norm to link technology and solutions to this word ‘piece’.

Cloud was the crowning glory for the word ‘piece’. The “cloud piece” fitted neatly. The idea that cloud could transform businesses and simplify IT became an easy to roll off the tongue discussion. Combining cloud and piece just worked. No one challenged people who used these words together. They wanted to believe. They needed to believe. Unconsciously they wanted to use these words themselves because it masked a multitude of sins. It was as if ‘piece’ was their second bite of the Y2k cherry. They wanted to buy the ‘piece’ just like they did in 1999. Nice clean and easy to explain.

To conclude. If you find yourself using the ‘piece’ word can I ask you to consider this. If you believe that this word actually is the missing ‘piece to complete the IT jigsaw’ then fantastic. You have nailed solving busines problems with how it uses technology. And i applaud you for the insight and focus. However, if you are just using the word ‘piece’ because everyone else is and that when challenged you cant actually back up your words with any validation and credibility then PLEASE STOP SAYING PIECE.