This is a topic of conversation that has come up a lot recently, both at work and whilst updating the computers for family members, so I thought I would write something down.
I don’t think people realise how much work it takes to stand still in the technology world.
When we think about the pieces that make up your typical on-prem web application running on virtual machines, what does standing still mean? To me it means the following.
- Database : A regular patching cycle for the database and the operating system it sits on. Also, upgrades/rebuilds as required.
- Application Server : See database.
- Web Layer : See database.
- Load Balancer : Regular patching of the appliance, and replacements/upgrades as required.
Now multiply all that up for all the projects you are working on. That represents a substantial amount of work, whether you call is Business As Usual (BAU) or Internal Projects. What’s worse, there is no “visible benefit” from this work. Most users won’t have a clue it is happening, as they won’t get a new screen or a new widget to play with. It’s pretty much invisible, but it has to happen, just to remain static.
At this point I can hear people saying, “But standing still is literally doing nothing, so what are you talking about?” Well, if today I have a fully patched system using supported versions of all software, to stand still I have to remain on a fully patched system using supported versions of all software. If that means upgrades or rebuilds of kit, so be it.
Remember, if I do nothing at all, I’m no longer standing still, I’m moving backwards!
Think about that for a second. To stand still I’ve got to learn all the new stuff so I can upgrade to 19c and get long term support for my databases, even if I didn’t want to. Same goes for other products. Even if I use none of the new features. There is a big investment needed by a company, and for you personally, just to stand still. Now breaking new ground, well that’s a whole different ball game… 🙂
So what are the solutions:
- It helps if you recognise the problem in the first place. Far too many people think doing nothing is standing still, when it’s not.
- Automation will help you stay on top of things. Reliable and repeatable processes make keeping things up to date a lot simpler. Automated testing is the icing on the cake here.
- Cloud? Platform as a Service (PaaS), when it is done right, can help you keep on top of things. Having a service where you don’t have to worry about OS, DB and app server patches, because it’s all handled by the platform is a big bonus.
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