When do we upgrade or change?

Not talking about jobs here, just wondering what the trigger is for upgrading our systems/processes etc or moving to another one.  Are they entirely of our own decision, or more often than not, are these decisions triggered by circumstances beyond our control, which force us into such moves.

I got thinking about this initially, because our library website is built with the open source content management software Drupal (currently version 6.20) and Drupal 7 has just been released. I had a look at which of the modules we use are Drupal 7 ready and it turns out that about 1/3 are, another 1/3 are under development and the last 1/3 are not. So we will be doing quite a bit of homework and investigating alternative modules, before we even consider upgrading. Fortunately, this decision is of our own choice, at least for now. But if we leave it too long, there will no longer be any support for our version and we will be forced to upgrade.

Search and upgrade

Uploaded to Flickr by quinn.anya, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

The same applies to PCs. We were running XP and Office 2003 for a while after Vista and 2007 came out.  Made for some fun when we couldn’t open .docx files. We have upgraded, but then the next version will eventually come out, bringing new compatibility issues with it.

And then there’s delicious.  Fortunately our use of the social bookmarking site has been more administrative than content delivery, but Yahoo’s announcements that first they were no longer supporting it and then that there were hoping to sell it, forced us into looking at alternatives.

I would have thought delicious was relatively secure due to being owned by  Yahoo, but now it makes me wonder how secure any of our content in the cloud is. What will happen if Flickr goes the same way as delicious, or Blogger or Facebook or ……? I know its unlikely, but then I would have thought the same of delicious.

So we make sure we have our backups in place, so if the unthinkable happens and one of those cloud services disappears, we have our content safe.  But now I also have to be sure that  I am really keeping in touch with the alternatives, so that if something unexpected happens, we are ready to move at short notice or pull out altogether, with as little disruption as possible.

How do you make plans for things like this? PC upgrades are one thing, but unexpected changes like delicious are not so easy to anticipate. Do we have a mindset that its OK to take on the new because the old will always be there? Does this mindset reach into areas other than technology in our libraries? And if so, what can we do to change this mindset?  Maybe a bit of panic like delicious is good for us, to get us motivated to investigate, but does it push us to reach out as far as we need to look, or only to the immediate need?

For me, its back to the drawing board for some of these things. Time to take a look at all our systems and processes, make sure they are free from unnecessary past weights, but are also flexible enough to move on or change if needed. That will also mean having a good idea of where we will move to as well. That will keep be occupied for a bit I think.

4 comments

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    • Evan on January 20, 2011 at 10:21 am

    As far as Drupal 7 is concerned, the rule of thumb from a recent Lullabot podcast was: For existing sites, probably give it six months before upgrading. For new sites, if they are relatively simple then you can go with Drupal 7, but for complex sites you might still use Drupal 6.

    https://www.lullabot.com/podcasts/podcast-90-drupal-7-are-you-ready
    http://drupal.org/project/upgrade_status

  1. About what I expected. Thanks for the comment and links! 🙂

    • snail on January 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    An interesting post on trying to cope with what is effectively a fluid environment. Nothing stays fixed for long in the tech sphere, with new developments: some good, some bad. My own company is still on XP as they’re doing the assessment for Win7 – we have some essential software that’s not win7 ready yet.

    Oh well, it’s all fun.

  2. You’re right, it is a fluid environment, but too often we forget that. So we end up going from no change to monumental change, which can be a huge thing for many people to have to cope with.

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