What is a legacy and why does this supplier think everything in my data center falls into that category?

Vendors often begin a discussion of their new product or service by declaring a large percentage of systems found in the organization's data center as "legacy." It would be wise for us to stop for a moment, take a deep breath and then examine what they mean. We should then compare that to the reality of most IT organizations.

When the supplier relegates something to the Legacy category, they are trying to focus on older technology that is quietly doing its job in the data center. The supplier hopes that they can cast that older technology as a problem that needs to be solved immediately and that their company and its products are the only reasonable solution to this terrible problem. The typical targets of this type of attack are mainframe systems and midrange systems running UNIX or a vendor's own operating system. The typical product being sold typically falls into either the virtualization or cloud computing category today. In the past it was client/server computing or database-based applications.

The listener ought to stop to consider what the supplier really is saying.  They are telling the listener the following things:

  • The choices you made in the past are wrong even though the technology your organization purchased back then is supporting the business today. After all established equals bad rather than useful in their dictionary.
  • You should march right down to the CEOs office and ask for money to replace everything in the data center with new technology even though, in the end, such a project may take 18 months to complete and what it does may only equal what is in place now.
  • The supplier's technical people are much smarter, better trained and much better looking than the IT folks in your organization. So, you should ignore the IT people's advice and listen only to the supplier.
  • If your people don't already know what to do with our technology, you should invest their time and your money in learning all about our product now. If that causes a slow down or failure in your data center, so be it.

I believe that many of these suppliers know the "golden rules of IT," (see the post Reprise of the Golden Rules of IT to learn more about those rules) but are purposely ignoring them in the hopes of selling something to those IT professionals who are easily persuaded by the shiny and new.

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