Tag Archives: legacy systems

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.

Anatomy of a Startup – Part 2

On the heels of my last blog post about the opportunities for a startup, I have been thinking more about the technology infrastructure it takes to launch that startup. It turns out that it is easier than ever, thanks to managed services and distributed computing. There are a lot of very smart people willing to provide services that will help get your new product or service off the ground. In the last blog I talked about the three things you need for a startup: a great idea, awesome people, and a funding source. This week I want to focus on the work behind the curtain.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

There is very little need to deploy your own big iron any more. You can purchase and configure servers in the cloud easily. This gives you the infrastructure that you need so that your developers can create your new service or product and provide the storage necessary for all of those tasks. One of the big benefits of cloud- sourced infrastructure is scalability. You can deploy as much or as little of these resources as you need. When starting out, you can contract a small amount of services and as you grow, the infrastructure can grow with you. The set up time and learning curve are also eliminated, as well as the risk of physical equipment failure. Some vendors in this area are: Amazon Web Services, CA Technologies, HP, and GoGrid.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

If your new product or service is primarily digital, then this will allow you to deploy development, testing, and production platforms for your developers. Again, there is no need to deploy actual hardware at your startup site to have platforms available. Deploy as little or as much as you need and, again, it is scalable and additional resources can be deployed on demand. Vendors in this area are: Amazon Web Services, Google, and OpenStack.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Finally, the top layer. These are the applications that you and your new employees use every day such as customer relationship management and tracking, office applications, e-mail, accounting applications, and so on. These applications can all be maintained by others and accessed through an interface on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. There is no need to maintain your own computers and your own expertise, thanks to many, if not all of these day-to-day applications. Salesforce.com was one of the early pioneers in this growing field by hosting customer relationship management applications. Other established and emerging companies are SAP for on-demand enterprise resource planning and Financialforce.com to provide you with necessary finance applications, through the cloud.


It used to be that one of the drawbacks of starting a new company is that you had a lot of startup costs associated with procuring IT infrastructure and applications. Now, what was once a barrier is an advantage because you have no legacy IT to deal with. You can start fresh and easily deploy just the right level of services to meet your needs. This frees up you and your team to finally bring that great new product to a waiting market.

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.

Yesterday’s News: Telephone Operators, Pay Phones, and Postage Stamps

I was reading an article recently about the possibility that the US first class stamp may rise another three cents and I wondered if maybe the US Postal Service is heading towards becoming an anachronism. At most, I use maybe fifty stamps per year, right now. At the rate I am going, I can probably buy enough forever stamps to last the rest of my life. I then pondered the reason for the slide and I believe that it is due in large part to technology. I pay a lot of my bills electronically. I can transfer documents electronically and get notices electronically. I use e-mail extensively, so I no longer send or receive personal correspondence through the traditional mail. The mail that I do get is largely unsolicited.

I think this is a case where technology will soon make a long-standing service obsolete. I then thought about other services that have already become what I call technology-induced anachronisms. Here is my list:

Telephone operators

When was the last time you placed a phone call that required a telephone operator? When was the last time you called “information” for a phone number and talked with a live person? Advances in phone switches, networking technology, and voice-activated response systems have made the telephone operator largely obsolete. I am even not sure what would happen now if you dialed “0” from your phone.

Public pay phones

Along those lines, when was the last time you saw a functioning public pay phone? These have been made obsolete by cell phones. Even if you forgot to bring your cell phone from home, chances are you could borrow one from a friend or stranger.

Photo film and film processing

Think about how quickly we have moved from traditional silver halide film to digital photography. It is difficult to find traditional film today, let alone a photo processor. Digital photography does have a lot advantages over traditional film such as the fact that it is less expensive, you get instant picture review, and you can take many more photos, depending on your storage capacity.


How much cash do you have in your wallet or purse right now? I have $16 and that is probably enough to last me for the next two to three weeks. While this one will not go obsolete as quickly as some of the others, I think that debit and credit cards and some of the latest apps will reduce or eliminate the need for consumer cash transactions. With the new phone swipe apps and devices, even my neighborhood lemonade stand will soon be able to take a credit card.


I hope you will take a minute and think about all of the changes that you have seen in your lifetime or even in the last twenty years. Take a minute and reflect on how technology has changed your life, hopefully for the better. What is your favorite technology-induced anachronism? Do you think there is a product or service headed for obsolescence? Let me know.

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 topics that keep him up at night.