Aging Software

I wrote The Age of Software awhile back and noted that supporting previous versions of software isn’t necessarily a good use of resources for development teams. I especially think this is true of SQL Server. But does that mean we should abandon aging software platforms?

It’s a tough question. I’ve certainly talked about the case for upgrading, and the reasons why you might not. For any particular instance, however, I think that each of you has to make the case about whether the software works, or it doesn’t.

If it works, then it seems many of us will live with the old software and keep it running. As late as a few years ago I knew a company running SQL 6.5 with a piece of software built in 1996 and last patched in 2001. However this software ran a building key card system, and there wasn’t a good case to be made for upgrading.

For a software developer, however, when you look at aging pieces of software, even those that customers may pay for support on, is it worth maintaining skills and support? If you don’t have staff turnover, then perhaps. If you don’t, I do think that it might be time to let the product die.

I’m torn on the way we deal with software in our world. On one hand, I’d like to see customers given source code for end of life platforms in order to support themselves if they wish. On the other, I understand the IP concerns, and business case to let software die.

Ultimately I’m mostly OK with the current way most vendors support software. If it works for a decade and support ends, I can continue to use it. Until it doesn’t work, and then I am glad that most vendors have an upgrade for me.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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