Everyday Computing, Features, Technology

Upgrade Cycles

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

WHEN is a good time to upgrade your ICT infrastructure, and what does it mean to be on the “cutting edge” of technology? Usually, an existing piece of equipment breaks down, and must be replaced. If its replacement is more advanced, the upgrade happens automatically.

What about upgrades when there is no equipment failure to trigger the purchase of an upgraded item? In some cases it might be necessary and justified. For others, it simply affords bragging rights to lay claim to having the most recent generation of ICT equipment installed within their enterprise. Is that a real measure of suitability or progress?

There can be no doubt that having the latest and greatest ICT equipment installed is an indication of the level of investment committed towards a project. That investment might well lead to improvements, such as:

* Greater quality of work;
* Improving standardisation of operations;
* Enabling features to unlock growth; and
* Conforming to vendor requirements or licensing arrangements.

This represents a fundamental challenge to ICT budget holders, since being on the cutting edge requires a continuing level of investment, which may not always be available. Because ICT investments tend to be expensive, upgrades are carefully scheduled. Without the proper direction and focus, you might as well be using an outdated version of the same equipment. There should be corresponding improvements in the ICT hardware, software, and your policies and procedures too! Otherwise, you might be pouring old wine into new bottles.

Think about your favourite word processing software application. Consider what it means to upgrade to the most recent version of that software. Would an upgrade automatically cause you to improve the quality of your typing output? Maybe, maybe not. Although it might make the process of producing documents easier, you might first need some training in the use of that new software.

This helps to explain why upgrading your ICT infrastructure is more than simply purchasing the next generation of some equipment. It is helpful to consider whether you are currently missing out on any features that are available in the upgrade. If you are not being disadvantaged by using the older generation of the equipment, then you are in a good position to delay the upgrade until there is a compelling reason to do so.

Software, especially, does not rust. It will function exactly as it did before. Unless your needs or environment have changed, there is a justification to continue without making any changes. Otherwise, you might be expending scarce resources on licences and other upgrades without enjoying a corresponding improvement or benefit.

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