The year 2018 has seen a number of IT failures being reported globally. Companies like Delta Airways, HSBC, Royal bank of Scotland, and the New York Stock Exchange all reported IT failures in the year. Common in all the cases was the claim that the outages reported were linked to some form of system upgrades. To an IT expert, the analytical eye demonstrates that the service outages linked to IT failures were actually as a result of obsolete IT infrastructure and outdated software hence creating the need for upgrades as the companies reported. Based on the examples provided the essay asserts that the risk of IT failures and service outages is primarily caused by outdated software and IT infrastructure in many businesses and most importantly in government offices and agencies.
Outdated software and IT infrastructure is the single most common and most risky cause of IT failures. As IT experts would like to put it, the pyramids in Egypt may have been built to last forever but for software and other technologies life is short. This indicates that user of all computing technologies must keep tabs with the state of their technologies and the developments in technology in general.
Computing technologies have considerably short lifecycles. It experts understand this fact. However, IT users will mostly notice that the software and hardware has a short lifecycle when the systems become slow over time and they get highly irritated with the slow performance of the systems. In fact, slow response speeds are a major factor when many persons, businesses, and government agencies start considering change in technologies. The challenge has been that slow speeds on software and technologies are not always interpreted to mean that there is risk of IT failures and service outages. Instead, the slow speeds are only considered as indicators of when to purchase a new device.
Outdated technologies increase the risk of IT failures either due to the ageing of the technologies or due to increasing vulnerabilities. When a failure is as a result of ageing I only means that the technology broke down due to depreciation, for hardware, ad due to expiry of the licenses in the case of software. This happens simply because the organization in question failed to maintain the technologies and adopt new technologies when needed.
When outdated technologies result in IT failures due to vulnerabilities it means that due to the failure to install software updates, the IT infrastructure was exposed to malicious penetration either by hackers or even by other people within the organization. Note that software updates come with solutions to bugs and system weaknesses that are discovered by the manufacturer of the software in continued research tests on the software. By failing to install such updates the organizations and individuals using such outdated software expose themselves to malicious attacks such as ransomware attacks and other attacks. It suffices to indicate here that if software updates were always installed, then more than half of the IT failures reported by major organizations would be avoided.
At times, organization continue using outdated technologies even where updates are not available. For instance, any organization using Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 would provide a good example of an organization using outdated technologies that do not have any updates and which need upgrades. Using such technologies exposes the organizations to IT failures which would then be blamed on some form of upgrades. The solution to the problem is actually announcing scheduled upgrades for the technologies, often when the services are not in high demand, instead of waiting until there are IT failures and service outages to report upgrades.
The problem of outdated software may affect each computing technology. However, IT failures associated with outdated technologies are more common in government agencies and organizations which do not have dedicated IT staff and where existing, the IT staff do not closely monitor the IT infrastructure to prevent vulnerabilities that are caused by outdated hardware and software technologies. In some instances, the IT staff may highlight the vulnerabilities caused by outdated technologies. However, the procurement procedures in government agencies may complicate the process of purchasing new and updated technologies. Often, the agencies purchase new technologies when the old technologies fail. This explains why upgrades are only announced when the old technologies fail.
Other than government agencies, business entities that are heavily reliant on technology also report cases of IT failures that are as a result of outdated infrastructure and computer software. This happens mainly where the technologies are complex and expensive to install. In such cases the business entities often prefer to extend the life of the technologies as a way of saving on costs until actual IT failures force the companies to actually purchase and install new technologies. Even when that happens, such organizations may only upgrade bits of the technology such as software leaving the aging infrastructure intact. The implications are that the vulnerabilities may be reduced by the software upgrades but the hardware obsolescence remains intact. Such organizations must be well-guided to recognize the risks posed by such software and hardware and that they should invest in new technologies.
In concluding, the recent cases of major IT failures that were blamed on upgrades should be a pointer to the fact that the risk of IT failures is on the rise especially where there are outdated technologies. Advances in new technologies pose great risks to old technologies. Individual and organizational users of technologies must recognize the importance of running only up to date software and hardware systems. Additionally, they need to recognize the fact that majority of the IT failures can actually be prevent by just running up to date software and hardware. Installing those updates fixes any bugs and vulnerabilities on the operating systems. In the age of increasing interests in data mining the use of up to date technologies may be the next big solution after reading the terms and conditions on the use of software and applications both on phone and on computers.

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