Technology disenfranchisement is now a thing

We’ve heard of technical debt: the act of leveraging solutions to speed up deployment with an understanding that the solution is not optimal but will have to be fixed later. However, there may be a new category of technical costs that we’ve yet to understand but will very soon.

I’m speaking of technical disenfranchisement. Simply put, this is the concept of traditional technology (legacy technology) not having the power to hold onto R&D dollars as everything moves towards more modern platforms (public cloud computing).

Back in 2018 this was such an obvious trend that it generated a blog post around the forced march to cloud computing. It introduced the idea that according to the R&D spending data, the public cloud had become the favored platform. Most of the funding had begun to funnel into cloud-native and third-party technologies that support public clouds. This included security, monitoring and management, governance, and application development—really the core things that keep systems running and outages rare.

Trouble is coming for a great deal of enterprises running legacy technology. If all of the technology spending is going towards cloud-based systems, what’s left over for traditional platforms? Those supporting more traditional systems will find themselves disenfranchised relative to the power they wielded just a few years ago.  

There will be some significant disadvantages for companies that continue to use disenfranchised technology, including:

  • Lack of updates and fixes to support ongoing systems maintenance. This can be as innocuous as missing a few performance enhancements, to as serious as missing security patches that could prevent a major breach.
  • Little power to influence the product roadmap. If 80 percent of the R&D dollars are spent elsewhere, you won’t get much of a say as to what the product should be, short term or long term.
  • Reduced ROI. Despite the fact that support and enhancement have diminished or will diminish, the license or subscription fees still remain. You’re not likely to receive any discounts for decreased value delivered and increased risk. 

What can be done? Not much, other than understand how the market is shifting and plan accordingly. Those most at risk are enterprises that support applications and datasets that are contraindicated for public clouds. They may have to stay on-premises or within an MSP and must deal with technical disenfranchisement.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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