In some cases, you get lucky: What seemed at the time like a shoehorned solution to a problem turns out to be just as good as a "proper" solution after the dust settles and the fix proves reliable. But in other situations, improper implementation of services and applications become wounds that dog IT continually until someone finally decides that they need to be addressed properly, and the whole scenario plays out once more.
The truth is, what we think of as "modern" IT is just growing older, not more mature. The 1990s were the Wild West, before anyone had a grip on exactly how all these computers were going to work together. The 2000s proved to be the decade where IT developed a more formal mind-set, in which standard practices became well known and well worn.
But IT today is still haunted by the ghosts of the past. I'm sure that anyone reading this who is involved in the care and feeding of an IT infrastructure older than a decade knows precisely what I'm talking about. There are cracks in the foundations because nobody knew any better when they were laid, and now there's no interest in fixing them unless and until they finally collapse.
At a minimum, you need to document these dicey situations clearly. But you must also allocate enough time and resources to address the worst of them. It's like cleaning your room when you were a kid: You really didn't want to do it, but once it was done, everything seemed so much nicer.
I've seen many situations in which the lack of visible problems with those foundations created a false sense of security -- and eventually, the problem became so ingrained in the entire infrastructure that ripping and replacing it took far more time and money than if it had been fixed sooner. "A stitch in time saves nine" is fundamental to IT.
We may pride ourselves in our ingenuity for developing unique solutions to unique problems, and the truth be told, that's the only way anything works. But we should also make sure that our solutions are as elegant and sustainable as possible. In most cases, the future aggravation we're saving is our own.
This story, "IT in a nutshell: Duct tape and sealing wax," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.