How to avoid the pitfalls of ‘good enough’ IT

By Mark Benson, Chief Technology Officer, Logicalis UK&I

In challenging economic times, organisations naturally look to cut back or defer non-essential investment. IT spend has traditionally been one of the areas businesses look to first when the need arises to cut budgets or delay projects, sometimes creating a ‘good enough IT’ mindset, where any IT asset that is doing the job reasonably effectively today is maintained beyond the last responsible moment for replacement.

This strategy has always been risky. Today’s volatile and challenging business environment, where digital and IT is at the heart of most businesses, and the stakes around IT failures and breaches get higher every day, makes it even more questionable.

This blog considers the specific cost and risk implications of a ‘good enough’ approach to IT infrastructure – servers and storage - and why organisations which are increasingly reliant on digital capability need to protect their investment in keeping it current.

Operational cost impacts 

The cost of migrating to newer technology is offset by the overhead of maintaining legacy. Legacy support can take up 60-80% of total IT spend in an organisation. Vendors understandably charge a premium for continuing to support technology that is no longer current, to cover the costs they incur in maintaining a wide spread of products and versions, and in finding increasingly scarce legacy skills.

While older infrastructure is often perceived as very stable – ‘it hasn’t failed in the last ten years, so why replace it?’ –  there is a tipping point where failures become more and more likely the older the infrastructure gets. When it does fail, it can be very costly and slow to fix because the resources and knowledge required are scarce.

Performance can degrade as infrastructure ages, increasing cost per IOPS and incurring costs to upgrade or augment the existing estate.

Business cost and risk

No CIO wants to tell the business that they don’t know when that critical systems outage will be fixed, because the vendor just withdrew support for that product. The direct business costs and reputational damage of a single legacy IT failure can be substantial, potentially eclipsing the investment in new IT that could have averted it.

Older infrastructure poses a security risk that increases rapidly as it ages. The 2017 Wannacry ransomware attack is estimated to have cost the UK National Health Service (NHS) around £92 million, and led to 19,000 healthcare appointments being cancelled in one week. The vulnerability that allowed the ransomware in was in an old, unpatched version of Windows which was presumably deemed ‘good enough’ in the context of a service where investment was at a premium.

Opportunity cost

Business competitiveness increasingly depends on the ability to maximise digital capability, using the power of technology to respond rapidly and effectively to new opportunities and shifts in the market.

A business running significant levels of legacy IT has an inherent competitive disadvantage compared with one that has successfully harnessed the flexibility and agility of modern technologies and the cloud.

A powerful driver for the success of digital disruptors versus heritage businesses in areas such as eCommerce and transportation has been their ability to create these capabilities rapidly from day one, while their established competitors grapple with adapting their legacy estates.

What next?

In considering whether to sweat that IT asset for one more investment cycle, it’s critical to consider all these potentially hidden costs and risks of ‘good enough IT’.

Logicalis UK&I has extensive expertise and experience in helping our clients to make the right, objective decisions on IT modernisation for their business. To find out more, and to continue the conversation, download our eBook or visit www.uk.logicalis.com.