The problem is the core of very many of these applications is quite old and written for a completely different era. As processors have become faster and RAM cheaper, the software vendors have opted to dress up new versions in eye candy and limited-use features rather than concentrate on the foundation of the application. To their credit, code that was written to run on a Pentium-II 300MHz CPU will fly on modern hardware, but that code was also written to interact with a completely different set of OS dependencies, problems, and libraries. Yes, it might function on modern hardware, but not without more than a few Band-Aids to attach it to modern operating systems.
Even there, problems exist. There are plenty of commercial software packages released and sold in 2010 that do not support Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows Server 2008. Their compatibility lists stipulate Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 only. And these are not cheap or niche products, these are point-of-sale systems, inventory systems, medical and dental charting and recording systems, just about any type of software you can think of beyond the code that runs at Internet speed. These are the dinosaurs that operate in small and large markets and have become de-facto standards in the smaller niche markets.
Naturally, the problems inherent in these applications force IT folks to implement further Band-Aids to get them to run in their infrastructures, exacerbating the problem. It's a vicious cycle of bad ideas and worse implementations.
To make matters worse, more often than not, these problems aren't apparent until the software has been purchased and is in the process of being implemented. Generally it's too late to change course at that point.
So what's the fix? Anyone involved in IT products or processes needs to stop tying ancient code and frameworks together with bailing wire and duct tape and take the time to do it right. Software vendors must bite the bullet and rewrite that 15-year-old application from scratch using modern platforms. It will require a sea change in Windows, with Microsoft jettisoning a wide range of internal hooks that exist solely to support Jurassic-era apps.
No, I don't expect it to happen either. But I can dream.
This story, "Your IT infrastructure: Propping up a house of cards," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com.