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Taking on the Upgrade Exception

January 24, 2017

During a recent conversation over lunch, my companion made a great observation: No one questions the need to upgrade their computers and other devices anymore -- with one notable exception.

Who do you know that is still using Windows XP, even on a home PC? We just replace these tools, because we understand that the current models are so much faster and more powerful. The same goes for the miniature computers we carry around in our pockets (sometimes called smartphones). Sure, over the lifetime of your phone, you will periodically update your OS and your apps. But eventually, we move on here, too, knowing that the new phones have the latest hardware -- and recognizing that the phone carriers will stop supporting the old hardware and software over time.

You can even see this with the technology in your living room. Most likely your television is not more than a few years old. Larger flat screens have become more affordable, and with HD you can really sense the difference with that clear, sharp picture.

So what's the one piece of technology many of us are reluctant to upgrade? You guessed it. It's our Power Systems servers.

I still run across customers who are running POWER6, POWER5 or even older processors, along with unsupported versions of AIX or IBM i. And I'm still surprised when I see businesses ignore their critical infrastructure to this extreme. We all understand that this was -- and is -- amazing technology. But it is old. POWER6 came out in the summer of 2007 -- nearly a decade ago. AIX 5.3 hasn't been supported since 2012 (unless you paid for extended support).

So why is the need to upgrade and stay current not as obvious to some enterprise computing customers? There are a number of factors, starting with the amount of money customers invest in Power Systems hardware. That said, IBM has made these systems more affordable over time, and leasing options are available.

Yes, these systems keep running, but just as with the other technology in your life, eventually there's a tipping point where upgrading your current hardware and OS becomes the safe and prudent course of action. As time goes on, replacing old hardware parts becomes harder and harder. And if anything goes wrong with your operating system or unsupported application, you may be on your own. It's far better to stay current with your OS and application patches and refresh your hardware regularly to ensure that support is available when you need it.

Sure, at one time we were all excited about migrating to Windows XP, or getting 3G on our phones. But so much better technology is available to us now. And yes, upgrades take some work on our part, but don't you find that experience kind of exciting, too? I do when I think of the end users. Those days after cutover weekend, when they can't believe how snappy their machines are, and they're ecstatic over the time they're saving because their jobs are running faster and the system is more responsive. That's a great feeling, and it goes well with the relief of knowing that your enterprise is up-to-date with its critical systems.

Posted January 24, 2017 | Permalink

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