'Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it' - Paraphrased from George Santayana (1863 - 1952).
This is sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill, who had many wise words to say about many subjects. One of his related statements is at the bottom of this post for reinforcement of the point.
As with New Year's resolutions, everything starts off with good intentions; what happens after this makes the difference.
With IT, this is the same and experience has reminded me of this recently in no small way.
In life, do you prefer:
a) The gym (or your choice of exercise)?
b) The doctors (and not your choice of illness)?
Equally, do you like to: a) Maintain and service your car to keep it in good order (or take it to the garage to do this for you)? b) Wait until something breaks then fix it?
Hopefully the answer to both questions is A - put in the effort and enjoy the reward. This is not always possible and this can be and needs to be understood if the alternative of managed decay is selected. If you don't maintain yourself or your car (there are many other examples but, hopefully these are easy to relate to), then you increase the risk of unexpected break down. Fixes are usually possible (in both example cases sometimes things are not and terminal), but you suffer inconvenience at least and delay, cost and suffering at worst.
An example of managed decay would be if you have a car that you enjoy but is not essential for travel, such as in a city where many options exist. You may not have the means to maintain the car in optimum order, or otherwise choose not to and accept that if the car fails as a result, you are inconvenienced but find the risk or cost-benefit acceptable (if you have a choice).
Now we must relate these general points to more specific IT issues which are in our professional remit and focus here at Onega and relating to client systems.
Churchill's statement from the House of Commons records, on 2nd May 1935 related to the outcome of a conference between the UK, France and Italy on the subject of preserving Austria's independence was:
“When the situation was manageable it was neglected and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the Sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”