One of the biggest challenges for small to medium organisations that run their own IT is to figure out if the cost of their tech infrastructure and services is appropriate for their current operations.
This usually involves figuring out if the infrastructure, costs aside, is suitable for what the organisation needs, and it is critical to figure this out before the costs are even looked at, but we'll explore in the next few lines, supporting old technology and the costs of doing so are very much related.
If it's not broken, why fix it?
When looking at tech operations, one has to identify if current practices should be looked at from the point of view of technology evolution. Think that an application that served the organisation well for 5 years is still the right approach, as "if it's not broken, why fix it?"
Technology evolves constantly, and the more we add technology to the operations, the more we are exposed to the ever expanding threats around tech in the world.
It is important to consider that as technology evolves, so does the way to approach a problem. Sometimes, and in most cases it has to be said, at least within technology, there is a huge difference in the way you would have approached an issue 5 years ago and today, let alone when you see 8, 10 years old or even older technology still being used (and large costs to maintain and support that old technology).
Cloud technologies are but one of the many evolutions in tech in the last few years, but there are other areas like operating systems, where the technology in place might not even have the ability to cope with problems that did not exist at the time that technology was modern. Considering Windows XP as an example, a great operating system that is now 16 years old, but some organisations are still using to this date. One can only imagine the number of new threats on the market since Windows XP was launched, and even from when support for XP ended nearly 4 years ago.
The fact a specific technology worked in the past is not a valid reason to consider that you should not look at upgrading old technology, otherwise we would all still be using fax machines!
It is also important to highlight that in the majority of cases, modern technology implementations are cheaper to implement and run than their older counterparts.
Hidden cost of not upgrading
When considering old technology, you must ask yourself how much supporting an old piece of equipment will cost, and of course you will find exceptions that will disprove the rule, but in general, the older the equipment, or the way a process operates, the higher the maintenance costs, with a few things to consider:
There are less people working in old technology, or willing to do so, and this rises the cost of contracting them to keep the lights on.
Parts are rarer and rarer, and it becomes a challenge to finding these parts for older equipment, having to resort to finding spares on ebay, or similar websites.
At that point you should ask yourself: what would be the cost for my organisation if I can't find that old part to continue operating? Are my processes protected should I have a catastrophic failure from the operational point of view or even reputation damage? Is ebay going to be my backup plan for that?
What about compliance? Is older equipment and software, and even older procedures enough to cater for current rules and regulations? GDPR is a great example on how writing a piece of paper and calling it a policy in the past will not be enough, and operations need adapting to modern standards or face the consequences, some of which could be harsh if you do nothing.
An assessment of the tech operations by a third party outside your IT department is a good starting point to make sure things are running the way they should, and to cast a different set of eyes in your operations to make sure either your team is operating within the normal standards you'd expect in the 21st century or even if you need a recommendation to improve existing processes that might need adjusting.