In the world of technology, we have this wonderful term “end of life”, which politely means when a company will stop supporting and patching one of their products - be that a printer or a piece of software used for timetabling.

Over the last few years, Microsoft has pushed hard to get people to upgrade to Windows 10, forcing the hands of those using Windows XP by stopping all support and warning that vulnerabilities will mean using a Windows XP machine on the internet would be a huge risk.

Why do companies do this? Simple - money. Microsoft doesn’t want to support old systems forever, so it makes sense for them and the user to move to a newer, better version and in some cases buying new hardware as well!

Managing the current version of a piece of software these days is very complex. Managing half a dozen previous versions is even more complex. How far back do you go when you find something which needs patching and like it or not, a lot of the software we use these days is built on old foundations, so bugs go back through time.

There are advantages to users in moving to newer versions of software - new functionality, speed enhancements and support!

But also, there are many disadvantages. Questions arise like will it run on my existing hardware? How long will an upgrade take? Will users need training on the changes, etc?

Upgrading any software requires a careful balancing act, the need for new functionality and support, over the pain and disruption of downtime and user relearning.

You might think that I am simply saying “please upgrade CELCAT”, but I want you to consider everything; the hardware you are using, the version of Windows and the version of SQL Server for the database. How well supported today is each version of software you are running?

If you had to start over tomorrow, what implications are there for your backups being restored to a machine which has just been built with all the latest builds of software - will it work?

Personally, I have faced this dilemma many times. Once arriving in a new job to be shown the “mini-servers” (they were the size of American fridges), and an explanation that the backup strategy involved some identical hardware at the local Council offices, a phone call later and we found the Council ditched said machines three years previously!!! This was swiftly followed by a few nail biting months whilst we sourced new hardware, software licences and moved our very important data. A much better situation in the end, but a very scary period of realisation of how close to closure we could have come.