Continuous Improvement Can Prevent Disaster


Continuous Improvement Can Prevent Disaster

Planning ahead for hardware and software upgrades
is an essential part of avoiding a worst-case scenario.

We rely on our workstations, laptops, tablets and smart phones to help us with a majority of our daily business tasks. Investing in and maintain these devices, and the software that runs on them, is an essential part of ensuring your business keeps running smoothly.

Fifty years ago, Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors in a microchip doubled approximately every two years. Though he thought that the trend would continue for only another ten years or so, the phenomenon he noticed holds true today, despite the odds. Moore’s Law aptly describes the evolution of computer processing power that has allowed the devices we carry in our pockets today to far exceed the computational capacity of the cumbersome machines that dominated our desktops only a couple of decades ago. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich explained the concept at an event marking the 50th anniversary of Moore’s observation by applying Moore’s Law to a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle. Krzanich explained that, were Moore’s Law applied, the Beetle would now go over 300,000 miles per hour, get two million miles per gallon of gas and cost only four cents!

Given this rate of change, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself some questions about the state of the computers and software you’re using:

  • What’s the average age of the computers in your company?
  • When is the best time to upgrade or replace a workstation or server that is showing signs of old age?
  • Are you running complex software on consumer-grade equipment?
  • Do you rely on software that is likely to be difficult to upgrade in the future?
  • How much time do your employees spend waiting for computers or software to complete basic tasks?
  • Do your employees have to reboot or close applications in order to open resource-intensive applications?

According to Greg Dahlstrom of Villaume Industries and chair of SBCA’s Information and Technology Committee, “It is important to work with your software and equipment vendors to ensure the software and equipment you need will work on modern hardware and operating systems.” When it comes to upgrades, Dahlstrom points out that, “Every day, it is getting more difficult to acquire Windows XP/7. Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 hard, for better or worse, and we all need to be prepared for the eventuality that next PC you buy may not be backwards compatible with older versions of Windows.”

It is easy to postpone decisions about hardware and software upgrades, especially when budgets are tight or workloads are intense. While there are certainly valid arguments for choosing stability over bleeding-edge technology, there are also costly consequences to waiting too long.

For example, a common scenario is a company with a custom database solution that has served as part of day-to-day business operations for years on end. At some point, the company using it finds that they can no longer run the older versions of their software on newer computers. Depending on the age and format of the original software, a developer tasked with upgrading the system may have trouble finding tools old enough to correctly interpret and convert the original data to a modern system. When this is the case, waiting too long leads to an increased risk of a disruptive upgrade process and to increased cost due to the complexity of the upgrade project.

Regardless of your specific needs, planning ahead for hardware and software upgrades is an essential part of avoiding a worst-case scenario. Be sure to discuss ongoing upgrade plans with your IT staff on a regular basis.

About the Author: Ben Caldwell joined SBCA staff in 2010, but he’s been a web developer and technology junkie since the ‘90s. He has a background in information/communications technology R&D and a strong interest in emerging technologies and open source.