An easy example of this would be the method to uninstall an application in a Windows system. Start with Windows NT and work through Windows Server 2012. You'll find that while there are some similarities, both the procedure and the requirements have changed -- dramatically in some cases. On Red Hat Linux, by contrast, there may be various GUI wrappers built around it, but the rpm command has been doing the job for 15 years.
With more complicated frameworks like Active Directory, there's really only one way to work with them in a general way through the use of Microsoft-provided management consoles. Sure, you can use all manner of scripting and command-line variants, but the way most admins casually modify objects in AD is via the console GUI. There's no possibility for stagnation unless the whole UI changes. And of course, at that point, admins are forced to adapt yet again.
It's hard to say if there's a problem with either of these approaches. After all, whether you stick with the old ways or evolve with the new, the goal is to address and fix the problem, or to advance the infrastructure by accomplishing a new build or standing up a new application stack. The way you get there isn't always important, although it can become a real problem if you find yourself in what was once familiar territory that now looks vastly different.
When things do turn strange, most IT pros figure out what's different, how to accommodate those changes into their internal processes, and move on. Others try to bend the new reality into their outdated concepts, and in so doing may actually succeed in discovering deprecated methods of reaching their goals -- albeit without adding to their knowledge.
I myself have been guilty of this when the chips are down. If I'm looking at one direction that requires a complete rip and replace and another direction that will allow me to update only a small section and shim the process along, I will sometimes take the shortcut. Sure, the right way would be better in the long run, but the shortcut serves to get through the woods.
I suppose the best of IT never stop advancing on any front, never stop adding to their arsenals, never stop updating their toolsets, and reap the rewards when it comes time to leverage that knowledge. I find that those folks are generally extremely adept with the technologies under their purview and oddly ignorant of those technologies they deem out of bounds.
Those of us who need to wrap the whole picture in our heads at once need to be, at the very least, pedestrian in our knowledge of all things IT and extremely adept at a select few, though we may be a few generations behind the curve. Perhaps we could each borrow a little wisdom from the other -- and either venture into uncharted territory once in awhile, or make sure that the territory we have known well for years still looks the same today.
This story, "IT yin and yang: When old ways meet new challenges," 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.