2012: avoiding the IT Apocalypse

2012. If you take the legend behind this year’s Hollywood blockbuster of that name to hold some truth, we’re in for a bumpy ride in a couple of years. Ok, so the major cities of the world are unlikely to disappear into gaping chasms but the Mayan prophecy used as inspiration for the movie which predicts the occurrence of an unspecified major change in 2012 might not be so unbelievable when it comes to IT.

Of course, that isn’t to suggest anything of the apocalyptical nature seen in the big-screen blockbuster is likely to occur, but from an IT point of view at least, 2012, and the period leading up to it, are looking to be a time of great change.

Take Windows XP as an example. 2012 is the year in which Microsoft expects to put an end to supporting its most loved OS, and to leave the world with the option of carrying on unsupported or making the leap to Windows 7. Gartner analysts appear to be pro-migration, advising Vista-traumatised users not to bypass Windows 7 like they did with its predecessor. Early adopters have given it positive feedback but perhaps more importantly, there do not seem to be too many other options – the scent of change is in the air.

So with that in mind, many of you will be asking “what’s the rush?” A compelling event in 2012 means it’s a long time before an OS migration becomes first priority you might think. However this way of thinking could be a mistake. According to Gartner, the process of a full-scale migration takes, on average, 12-18 months. With this in mind, suddenly 2012 doesn’t look that far away.

An interesting example of the timescales involved can be found by examining the plans for the IT Infrastructure of the 2012 Olympics in London. The appointed IT supplier for the games, Atos Origin, has already started to design IT systems and infrastructure for the main site and numerous venues around the UK, and plans to start works in the new year, launching the data centre and software in July 2010.

Atos need to ensure they balance in the sweet spot between a system which is too new, and therefore raw and still not completely understood, or too ancient, and unable to meet the needs which will occur during the biggest sporting event ever seen.

While London 2012 might seem to be on a scale far larger than anything most organisations would need to tackle, the principles remain the same. Money will be saved and problems avoided by anticipating any compelling event and acting accordingly. With that in mind, 2012, apocalyptic or not, should not be too far from your thinking today.

David Cowan


David Cowan, Head of Infrastructure Consulting


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