The words aging gracefully does not apply to locks, chains, seatbelts or brakes. So should operating systems and servers come in this same category? In a day and age where vulnerabilities grow faster than our solutions to them, the best we can and should do is be prepared. Our legacy technologies are familiar and trustworthy, but is it ready to face the threats the modern world has to offer?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
No is the answer in this case, as it is more acceptance than common sense. Given the digital footprint every business has nowadays, it makes sense to be secure. As a threat to the digital side of a business is a much a legitimate threat to the business itself. Cyber security giant Mcafee, in a study published in 2016 estimated around $400 billion(conservative estimate) was the cost to fight cybersecurity threats. The problem lies in the fact that broken technology cannot be seen until it’s too late.
Hardware and software
Hardware parts such as hard drives are at a greater risk of falling prey to failure due to the presence of moving parts. This could lead to severe data losses and data recovery is both tricky and expensive, to say the least. The importance of software migration cannot be stressed enough, new languages are faster, scalable and from a developer point of view, easier to maintain and upgrade. All this translates to an efficient working, productive employees and happy clients.
False sense of security
Windows XP, to which all support and updates came to an end in 2014 is still the second most popular operating system. The problem here being that there is no point in updating, upgrading or patching standalone security software if operating systems or environments are not getting any updates. A research by Microsoft found a negligible difference between outdated protection and no protection scenarios.
Comair, an airline company in America had an interesting run in with a legacy software issue, as of 1997 Comair were using a software to manage their flight crew which was 11 years old. It was written in Fortran (no one in Comair was fluent in) and ran on IBM AIX platform while all the others were in HP Unix. While talks were ongoing about application modernization, but after missed deadlines after deadlines. The system came down crashing on 2004 Christmas holidays, The numbers tell the story in a better way. 3,900 flights canceled, delayed or grounded. 200,00 passengers stranded all across 119 different locations during the holiday season. $20 million revenue loss, PR nightmares and an investigation from The Department of Transportation ending in downsizing in 2006 to ceasing operations in 2012.
One more day or just one change
The difference lies in the response to such situations, legacy systems use software and environments that it is innately difficult to find experts to rectify the problem. Comair took 48 hours to restore normal operations as there was no backup plan, the vendor took 24 hours to correct the code. These delays nowadays make all the difference in the marketplace. A modern business simply cannot have an ancient digital infrastructure. Nowadays employees prefer to use their own device as opposed to the one offered by the organization, this imparts calls for better security and Technology migrations solutions to provide upgradations to organization’s tools. As for the fear of change and the instability it may bring
There is nothing as stable as change.
– Bob Dylan