The Disadvantages of not Keeping Current

I have been requested by a client to produce data extracts from an old bespoke system, which has been knocking about for many years and been left without upgrades for several years. A nice piece of work for me, but it’s got me thinking about the whole upgrade lifecycle issues and bespoke vs packaged solutions in general.

The reasons it’s not been upgraded are that “it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”, and that nobody wants to pay the costs to keep regression testing new upgrades.

However, there are disadvantages to letting a system continue on old techonolgy for a long period of time. Maintenance gets more difficult as fewer people are available who remember the older technology. The world moves on and the system doesn’t, so it looks antiquated, and leads users to feel irritated by the inadequate user-interface.

The net result is that a new proprietary packaged system is going to be deployed replacing the creaking bespoke system, at considerable cost. However, as with all packaged solutions, the “out of the box” fit with the business requirement is good, but not perfect. Ok, the bespoke system doesn’t fit with the business 100% either, since the business has moved on and it hasn’t, but I can’t help thinking that had the bespoke system been periodically upgraded to use the latest (or at least more recent) technologies, and the changes to the requirements, that the requirements fit could have been better and the overall cost less than the new replacement system.

A final disadvantage of remaining on older techonolgy, comes when carrying out the extract of data for migration, you realise that “that approach doesn’t work on that version, you need the next one”. Realising that several approaches aren’t possible due to the features I’m now used to being for more recent versions, it becomes frustrating to have to rethink each time.