Clean Slate, Fresh Start: Letting Go of Legacy Systems

I write this blog from beautiful Dubai. As I expand my understanding of this region, I marvel at the lack of legacy infrastructure, both computing and community. The United Arab Emirates were only formed in 1971 and Dubai was a founding member. The region obviously existed before 1971 but only as a loose band of tribes. It was another ten years or so before Dubai took off and took advantage of their lucrative port position and the discovery of oil. In effect, the infrastructure shared by two million people and countless visitors is only thirty years old.

What would you do?

Dubai is a very modern city and now attracts ten million visitors a year and expects to increase that to twenty million by 2020. The second airport was just opened this week as the first airport has reached capacity. There is constant construction to keep up with the demand of commerce and residential growth. There are also new roads constantly under construction to meet demand.

The emergence of this region seems unencumbered by legacy infrastructure and it brings me to the question: what would my computing environment look like if I could start fresh and not be held back by legacy systems and legacy networking? What if I could deploy the newest servers, newest applications, and fastest networking? Am I being held back by the structure I already have in place?


In Dubai, they control automobile speeding by a series of cameras. If you are unfortunate enough to be caught speeding (I know this secondhand only, thank goodness), you will see a flash and then receive a text message with instructions on how to pay your fine. So many systems have to work together to make this succeed. First of all, the camera infrastructure has to be in place. Second, the motor vehicle database has to have complete information tied to each automobile registration. Third, the driver has to have the capability to receive the message and the ability to comply with the instructions. Because they were able to start with a clean slate, they were able to develop this system.


Think about your own situation and ask yourself what is holding you back. Not everyone gets the chance to do a Greenfield project and start everything from scratch. Do you have legacy systems and applications in your business that cost you more than the value they provide? Would it be a prudent investment to finally retire those apps or that hardware and migrate? Would you save money and headaches in the long run? It is something to consider.

Now, I take this metaphor of legacy systems one step further and ask myself: are there beliefs, ideas, processes, and activities in my personal life that are legacy and holding me back? The answer for me is a resounding yes. Is there something that I can do to move off this personal legacy platform and move on to 2.0? Yes. Would my life be more efficient if I were able to move beyond these legacy activities and on to fresh thinking? That is my challenge and I want to make it your challenge this week as well. What can you do to start moving towards 2.0?

Let me know how you are progressing in your journey.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

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