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Why does IT stick with old software/OS's?

Discussion in 'Business & Enterprise Computing' started by Gonadman2, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. abadonn

    abadonn (Taking a Break)

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    Smart IT people generally want the maximum productivity for the minimum amount of cost and time. This suits most people in most places. Upgrading to the latest greatest usually only slightly increases productivity, at best, and often either makes no change at all decreases it, often at great cost. There are lots of things that Win7 does better than WinXP, I can run 16Gig of ram quite happily, and 3tb HDDs will be easier to add. But office based users rarely ever need this and the basic functionality, old software compatability and the stability of WinXP trumps all the costs and pain of a major upgrade. Most of my clients are very small, the upgrade to Win7 has been moderately easy, but then most use off the shelf software its not too hard to upgrade. However I doubt any of them can point out even one improvement from moving to Windows7 apart from that it looks a bit smarter. And as others point out, merely moving icons around a screen confuzzles users never mind whole OS upgrades.
     
  2. OP
    OP
    Gonadman2

    Gonadman2 Member

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    Yep, we currently have licences for the following:

    AutoCAD 2010
    Microstation XM
    Smartplant P&ID 2007
    VP P&ID (I think its a similar era ~2007)
    Office 2007

    The servers run on Server 2008.

    We have about 20 machines in our office and a couple of servers. The printers are new, less than 2 years old. I brought up W7 again in a meeting we had this morning, and lo and behold he said we'd put it on the agenda. I told him that I'd be happy to grab and unused machine and do some testing. We'll see how that goes...
     
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    OP
    Gonadman2

    Gonadman2 Member

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    This thread is great, its certainly a bit more of an eye opener as to what I initially thought was 'head stuck in sand' type of stuff. While some of you might think its silly questions, I'd pose that most of you on this forum would find installing Windows and setting up a home network a pretty basic experience. So I was thinking that this experience would translate into the business sector would be pretty fundamental to me, as I don't work in IT. Which is why I asked to questions in the first place.
     
  4. rainwulf

    rainwulf Member

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    Its ok, its just stuff you didnt know.

    Setting up a home network yourself is childs play to dealing with it in a business.

    If you set your own network up, you are capable of debugging it, working through issues, and dealing with it if something breaks.

    Customers on the other hand, pay cash for x to happen.
    X is often NOT what you expect, and even if it is, it comes with lots of gotchas, conditions, wtfs, and fubars.

    You end up dealing with people who have ring up and complain when their numlock pad doesnt put numbers on the screen, or run out of mouse mat, or this morning for me, unplugging an ESXI server to use the vacuum cleaner.
     
  5. dink

    dink Member

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    If stuff doesn't work at home, it is nothing more than an inconvenience. It is trivial for me to replace the software with something that works and I can teach myself how to use it. Hardware is generally cheap to replace at home too.

    When things don't work in the office, it costs money. Training 500+ users on a new piece of software can be quite an expensive experience as well. Replacing thousands of dollars worth of specialised printers and other hardware due to new software is just not worth it.

    There are still many industrial control and monitoring systems that run win95 or DOS that have never been upgraded. Mainly because if it works, you don't spend money replacing it.
     
  6. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    :lol:

    It's funny when business users think IT have any say as to what goes on a corporate desktop.

    If it was up to us, we sure as hell wouldn't have this legacy shit lying around.

    There's a pretty good chance that every application you see on your desktop "needs" to be there according to some business unit within your company, and IT had nothing to do with choosing it. And when IT ask to upgrade it, the answer is "no" for any number of reasons, usually boiling down to budget/comfort/retraining/legacy file formats, all of which are imposed by business units and not IT.

    Corporate IT are nothing but shit kickers doing what the business tell them (and often against the express advice of IT). This whole concept that we are somehow a part of the business and have a say in how technology can drive the business forward is a nice fantasy, but simply just does not happen on 99% of Australian business.

    It's the same with anything. You wouldn't use home kitchen appliances in a commercial restaurant. You wouldn't use home budgeting software to run a corporate accounting firm. You wouldn't use a $50 piece of home design software to design a sky scraper.

    Home networks are not corporate networks, and never will be. One of the worst things to ever happen to IT was that Microsoft Windows became popular as both a home operating system and a corporate one. It's ended up with the following shitfight:

    * End users are convinced trouble shooting complex issues are as simple as rebooting a PC (like they do at home)
    * End users are convinced IT people are over-paid, and their young nephew who is "good with computers" has the same skill levels
    * End users are convinced that home gadgets like iPhones and iPads are viable tools in a business environment
    * IT try to implement enterprise-scale solutions to enterprise-scale problems, and are told to do it on a fraction of the budget using consumer crap that some manager or executive has incorrectly assumed will fit the bill because they used it at home on their desktop PC

    So on, and so forth. Home systems are not commercial or enterprise systems, and they never will be.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  7. rainwulf

    rainwulf Member

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    I swear, if i won a few million dollars in the lottery, i would upgrade a few of my businesses for FREE just to save the freaking support headache with old crap that hasnt been upgraded/cant be upgraded due to cost.

    Then i realise that if i won a few million dollars, i would probably not be doing IT anymore haha
     
  8. Iceman

    Iceman Member

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    I was going to write basically what elvis wrote, only to the tune of "It's a work tool, not your iphone, if you're not responsible for fixing it when it breaks, take what you're given".

    In the spirit of taking a different point of view, I'm going to encourage people who are dissatisfied with what their work provides to do some research and provide us a cost effective argument as to why the business should install <your preferred scenario>, be it macbook air's or i7's with GTX 680's.

    If you're going to use BS like "improved productivity" please qualify it with some vaguely factual data and realise that the time to implement things like SOE's, desktop imaging/images or even just do a basic backup and reinstall of your work PC has a cost of someone's time that isn't free.

    K, go.
     
  9. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I've worked for a lot of different business. Putting it quite bluntly: in 10 years I've seen a wider cross section of businesses than most do in their entire career. This comes from a mash of working 90+ hours a week at three different sites as well as running my own consultancy for a long while.

    I've seen a hell of a lot of software in that time. In my experience, particularly when it comes to commodity tasks, the open source stuff causes a shitload less drama than the proprietary stuff. Yes, there will always be niche edge-cases where you simply need to use some proprietary, custom-written tool. But for 80% of business users, replacing their entire workflow with with FOSS works quite well.

    Yes, you'll get the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth that the interface looks different. And yes, you will need to factor in re-training for users who struggle to tie their shoelaces without a printed guide that includes diagrams. And FWIW, that generally means larger organisations (where there are more useless people in concentrated groups, compared to smaller orgs that seem to attract a more dynamic staff member) will struggle.

    I agree 100% with GreenBeret's comments - SMB is a brilliant place to roll out FOSS software. 90% of the time SMBs have staff who are far more self sufficient, and don't get bogged down in process and politics. These are the kinds of people who can quickly move past trivial GUI changes and recognise core functionality over and above whether the icon changed colour or moved 8 pixels to the left. (Or, heaven forbid, the start bar is now at the TOP of the screen instead of the BOTTOM - oh my, think of the retraining!!!).

    When you've got good staff in an SMB, the cost of proprietary software far outweighs the cost of training, and in that case getting the software down as low as possible in dollar cost works well. And as above, I've done a fair bit in my career. Rolling out FOSS in SMB is something I enjoy, and do a lot. Mostly because it brings great benefit to said businesses, the staff get a huge volume of software for free without having to fight for budget, and business owners can get on with spending money on things more important to the core profit of the business rather than just blowing tens/hundreds of thousands on software.

    Mate, if I won a million bucks, I'd give up on this IT gig in a heartbeat. I wouldn't even give it a moment's notice. There's a hell of a lot more good I can do in this world than pandering to the whims of corporate knobs.
     
  10. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Story time:

    I worked for a retail organisation a few years back. Half a billion dollars a year turnover across 40 locations around the country with 1600 staff. Not huge, but not small either.

    The COO was an ex truck driver, and the best mate of the CEO. He in turn had a few mates who ran a software dev shop. They wrote a rather shit piece of software that tried to be a warehousing and inventory record keeping program. Was single user, was built of VB6, and could only run off Widows 2000 (I started this job in 2004, mind you).

    So lo and behold the software is chosen to be used across the entire company. Why? Well of course the COO tried it around his software dev mate's house, and it worked brilliantly on his laptop. It did all the sorts of things he wanted it to do, and "was lightning fast".

    So IT got the software, and got told "Make it work". We told the COO it wasn't up to scratch. He replied with "Make it work... or else".

    We rang the developer, and asked how to get multiple users on it at the same time. We got told "yeah, no problems - we've scaled it all the way to 5 people here in our lab!". Oh goody...

    Needless to say it was a cluster fuck. This thing ended up having to run on a terminal services cluster at head office (because it couldn't run out on sites, talking over the WAN to a central DB, because that just corrupted data all the fucking time). The TS cluster sat behind a Linux/LVS box which did a good job of dealing with the network side of things. The app, however, would just baulk when more than about 6 users hit a particular box. We went to the vendor, and they just kept telling us to upgrade the servers. On and on this goes, until we're running 13x quad 3GHz machines with 4GB of RAM each. And still, 6-8 users hit each node and the app collapses, despite the box running at 1% load and capping itself at around 100MB of RAM for the app.

    Database corruptions happen frequently, and the thing ran like a dog with multiple users. With 1600 staff, only about 100 could ever log in to the thing at once, and it would run even slower at those loads. We had to put caps at the LVS side on how many connections were allowed, which pissed end users off no end. We had to constantly back up the data stores in case there was irreversible corruption - recovery of which could take hours with the volume of items the org had.

    This went on for years. And the end result was predictable - everyone hated IT. After all, it was IT who "forced" everyone to use this shitty program. Those bastards!

    The company went through some rapid growth a few years later, and the app collapsed. The COO came storming in to IT demanding answers. The IT manager said bluntly "we've been telling you for years, and you didn't listen!". The COO's response was (and I quote): "Well you didn't tell us loudly enough".

    The IT manager quit a week later.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011
  11. millsy

    millsy Member

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    @elvis, like I said if it benefits the business and keeps it chugging along fine then it's a great option.

    However FOSS doesn't always work which was the point I was making :(
     
  12. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Particularly when it comes to human beings, "not working" and "looks different" are often confused terms. ;)

    Subjectivism is a bitch. :)
     
  13. millsy

    millsy Member

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    That it is, and like you said it's often cheaper to invest a bit of money into user training at the outset and reap the long term rewards.

    Do they make versions of autocad for linux yet?
     
  14. fredhoon

    fredhoon Member

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    Elvis, in all your travels, have you ever found a technical solution to corporate stupidity?
     
  15. rainwulf

    rainwulf Member

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    Legal or illegal? hehehe
     
  16. DavidRa

    DavidRa Member

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    Nope. Never. I don't think we'll even get close before in-house IT is taken over by cloud services1. Cloud is being sold as the solution to hamstrung IT departments everywhere, and CxO's will listen if only due to the "hey WE have a bad IT department!" lingering in their skulls. Even when the bad IT department is like that discussed by elvis (and it's not uncommon).

    1: Anytime you see "in the cloud!" attached to something, mentally replace it with "for idiots". It's usually2 close enough.
    2: For large values of usually.
     
  17. rainwulf

    rainwulf Member

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    And dont forget, the "cloud" that promise magical fairy land goes as far as that twisted pair of copper cable covered in electrical tape in that fading grey box outside that has hobos pissing on it.
     
  18. DavidRa

    DavidRa Member

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    It's only that good in magical fairy-land... elsewhere is far worse.
     
  19. rainwulf

    rainwulf Member

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    but telstra said that that cable modem is for businesses, and its only 4 years old, so its still new and it cant be broken!
     
  20. DavidRa

    DavidRa Member

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    Oh no actually I have a solution to that ...


    Click to view full size!


    That one's easy.

    Edit: And fun!

    Actually I suppose this is as good a fix as any for lots of the more "technical" problems. Which the admins generally have well in hand, and would continue to have well in hand were it not for the interference of management. Who should generally shut the hell up and TRUST their staff! Seriously, half my consulting revenue comes from going in, listening to the crew on the ground, and saying the same things THEY'VE been saying for weeks (substitute months or years, at your preference).
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2011

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