BHS Technology News Bytes

The Problem With Legacy Thinking in IT: Part Two

There’s a clear habit that as society “develops” the things you require get moved further away from you as other people step in to “relieve you” from the details.

For instance, a few hundred years ago, you might have kept chickens, and gathered your own eggs. These days you get your eggs from a supermarket… where a person stacked it on a shelf… after a guy delivered it in a truck… from a distribution centre… where another truck had left a container of egg boxes… who had driven it from a packing centre… who had obtained the eggs from a farmer.

It’s a common problem these days that people don’t know where stuff comes from because they’ve been removed from it. The average person has never heard of (or seen) a vinegar mother, yet we’ve been making the stuff for thousands of years.

The same process happens in IT and many people have not made that connection, yet.

In the old days, you had files on your local hard drive. Then we moved files to a server, where multiple computers could see all see the same information. Then we put the server into a Web Server that’s hosted elsewhere. Then the hosted services were put into the cloud. To access this, there’s the equivalent of the truck drivers above, so you have your telco/ISP to go from your office to the Internet backbone. Then another company whom you’ve probably not heard of then transports your data to some other city, where another local ISP or telco runs a line to the data centre such as Amazon or Microsoft, where an instance of your software and data resides.

A frequent result of this chain of middlemen and stops along the way is that people don’t actually know sometimes where things are.

It’s nice to not have to worry about where things are, but when it goes wrong, it’s actually crucial that you understand your own infrastructure. Gone are the days where you reset your modem when there was an issue with your local ISP. Now, the problem could be on the other side of the continent, in a different country.

The crucial difference here is that unlike your food, which has the FDA (USA), Health Canada (Canada) or DEFRA (UK) as the responsible party with authorization to resolve issues up the entire chain when things go awry, your e-commerce infrastructure usually will not do the same.

For instance, someone in the middle of this chain may be entitled to recompense from the cloud provider, but you may not–after all, you may not even have an agreement with them because it’s the man in the middle that has the agreement, resulting in him getting compensation for a problem he can’t fix, whilst you just remain in a state of paralysis with no comeback.

There’s a lot of legacy thinking in business where IT is concerned that needs to be swept away. Just looking at the above scenario paints part of a picture that most people don’t think about–or know that they should be thinking about. As before, understanding where you get things from and how you get them is key to understanding how to protect yourself.

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