We will occasionally hear this comment from clients who are running older technology – it’s worked reliably for years, but we’re having more and more issues. Why would something that’s worked well for so long stop working?
The answer is that the amount of issues experienced with technologies follows an inverted bell curve pattern during the course of their anticipated usability lifecycle, which in technology is over a 5-year term.
When a new product is first released, it’s often rushed to market before being “fully baked”, and as a result, riddled with bugs and defects. For years, the common approach by many regarding Microsoft products was to not upgrade to a new version until Service Pack 1 was released – all of the bug fixes and enhancements available since a product was initially made public. Once released, reliability would improve, and the new product would reach it’s maturity phase through years 2-4 of the 5-year cycle.
However, often within the 4th year, problems start to occur more and more frequently. These are often caused when an update in some other area within a system creates an issue with the technology in question. However, the manufacturer of this technology isn’t putting their top developers on writing bug fixes for the 4-year-old version of their technology, they are focusing on developing the new version of their product, so bug fixes are developed and released more slowly, if at all.
As more and more products move to an as-a-service model where only the most recent version is available for use, the agile software development model means that updates come more frequently and only the current version is supported, often causing issues with legacy technologies to accelerate in frequency.
As a result, more issues should be anticipated in the first year and with increasing frequency in the fourth and fifth year of the 5-year technology lifecycle. Therefore, the best defense is to leverage your 5-year technology plan to proactively replace older technologies before unplanned issues become exceedingly impactful within your business.