Reader Feedback and Insights: Left in the Dust
I am not surprised if you don't want your column to turn into a discussion forum, but in case you are interested in keeping the thread alive, I offer the following.
I am more inclined to agree with Eric on this issue [Reader Feedback and Insights: Who's Out of Touch with Reality?]. I believe IBM does way more that any other vendor to provide scalable and cost-effective migration strategies, regardless of the size of the business. I believe the real problem is that the corporate budgeting process can often be extremely shortsighted. What it fails to recognize is that there are risks and corresponding expenses to every decision, even if the decision is to make no decision. The fact that these risks and costs are hard to quantify, and are therefore difficult for "the bean counters" to comprehend, does not make them any less important.
Duane's lament is a good example ["V5 and Trigger Programs"]. His company has decided to stay with its S/36 software, but he is now finding out that is it going to cost extra for the support he needs. It may be, in terms of actual cash outlay (as the required expertise gets rarer, its cost will increase) or extra time or lower quality. Unfortunately, these factors are seldom cranked into the decision-making process. Worst of all, what happens if he can't get support at any price? As time passes, this risk will only increase.
However, I believe there is a more important issue that is overlooked when a company makes a choice like this. That is the lost opportunity. How many enhancements necessary to maintain competitiveness have not been implemented because "the software won't support it" or (more likely) it would cost too much (because of the old technology) to properly implement? The short-term advantage from keeping expenses artificially low is just not worth it. I have very little patience or sympathy for organizations that refuse to stay (reasonably) current with their infrastructure.
I often use analogies when discussing IT topics with non-IT friends. It should not be necessary here, but I'll throw this out anyway: My old turntable still does a great job of playing my old LPs, but when the stylus goes, I have no idea where I will get a new one. Furthermore, I have a hard time listening to a recent release. So I bought a CD player. Now I need the "tools" to convert my LPs to CDs. It's going to cost money, a learning curve, and time, and I had better do it before the stylus breaks.
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