Why does it feel like Vogons are running outsourced IT operations?

Science Fiction has been at the forefront in the development of new technology. The genre has directly influenced technology via movies such as “The Minority Report” and “iRobot” and the works of Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Dick, and Bradbury they are based upon. Highly influential among these is the humorous novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” written by Douglas Adams and published in 1978. We can thank Adams and his Guide for ideas and terms such as Googleplex Starthinker, Babelfish (today’s universal translators), Encyclopedia Galactica (precursor to today’s Wikipedia), Don’t Panic, and of course, unfortunately, Vogons.

Vogons are a slug-like, fictional alien race, described by Adams as “one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy — not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous,” with “as much sex appeal as a road accident.” Vogons run the entire galactic government bureaucracy. They oversee the destruction of the Earth in order to facilitate an intergalactic highway construction project.

Vogons author “the third worst poetry in the universe,” which is used as a form of torture. You can read about this poetry here, but I strongly suggest that you DO NOT READ any of it for your own self protection. Similarly, I suggest that you DO NOT READ the following rant about Vogons running IT infrastructure (basically the IT Government), because, like Vogon poetry, the rant is horrible but includes a few truths:

In the real world, many IT operations shops have been out sourced offshore. These shops, unfortunately, seem to be run by Vogons. IT operations are so inflexible that they are effectively frozen. It can take weeks to get approval for minor operational changes, such as new server access, security adjustments, communications port access, and other minor changes. The result is that it’s almost impossible to modernize IT and to move the critical infrastructure of the business into the future.

Vogons are one of the reasons why so much critical IT infrastructure still runs on unsupported Windows NT, W2K, WS2003, and WS2008 servers. By freezing the critical IT infrastructure, Vogons inadvertently expose IT operations to malware like WannaCry and NotPetya. Thanks to their bureaucratic inflexibility, they put business operations and reputation at risk. It’s always easier to maintain the status quo and do nothing rather than modernize, especially in the face of inflexibility.

As I have explained in earlier blog posts, doing nothing is not a zero-cost strategy for business. Common sense should make End of Support for old servers a non-issue, because most companies should sensibly have retired unsupported servers years ago. However, millions of unsupported servers are still in production today.

Outsourcing operations is usually a bad idea

We see it and live it every day. Business and system analysts voice their frustration at the lack of operational IT flexibility they experience, while off shored IT operations hide behind the maxim that “rules are rules.” The mantra is, “No, we can’t make that change” or “standby,” which means wait for weeks. The internal systems team is often left apologizing for their inability to get change and agility from IT operations. Nobody is happy, especially the people who are forced to continue to run the business on old technology. Lack of operations flexibility freezes the modernization of the business. Business really needs an adaptive IT infrastructure to thrive.

Outsourcing can save a few dollars, but it can also have the unintended consequence of severely reducing the agility of IT operations. Companies should never outsource services that are strategic to a business. An efficient and agile IT operations environment is strategic to the future success of a business – it’s one of the crown jewels. Outsourcing IT Support to a bureaucratic support organization can make rapid technological change impossible, stifling innovation and risking the business. Agile, competitive businesses need agile IT operations to support them. Keeping control of operations and building a flexible adaptive infrastructure will pay significant long-term dividends for the business. If you lose speed in IT, you risk losing everything.

A middle ground: existing apps on new, secure servers

Outdated Windows servers are open invitations to malware such as NotPetya and WannaCry. Running business-critical applications on operating systems that are more than a decade old isn’t good practice and likely breaches GDPR legislation. Accepting the risk that comes with outdated technical infrastructure is negligent.

The first step in dealing with outdated technology is to start planning now for server modernization. You don’t have to undertake a massive software remediation and redevelopment project. Instead, you can consider a fresh install of legacy apps on new servers. The Vogons will like that, because they won’t have to learn new applications immediately and the old run-books will still work. It can also save millions of dollars in deferred application redevelopment costs.

Modern servers get you immediate benefits. You can manage server workloads using modern cloud management and DevOps tools. New servers mean more life out of legacy applications and better performance. Faster servers allow your users to do more business in less time, with less effort.

Migration Intelligence tools exist to help you automate the migration of legacy applications to new operating systems like WS2016, WS2016, and WS2019. Automated server modernization doesn’t involve the Vogons (we do need their cooperation) and offers a way to move legacy applications to modern servers now. You don’t need install scripts or source code for your legacy applications. Compared to other approaches, Migration Intelligence saves weeks and months of effort usually needed to upgrade applications to new servers.

If you’re somewhat tired of Vogons and are ready to upgrade your Microsoft Server applications or would like to understand Migration Intelligence, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We modernize applications and move them to new, secure Windows operating systems every day and are pleased to share what we know.