When Vint Cerf, the father of the Internet speaks out on a topic, you should listen.\nCerf has recently expressed concern about "bit rot." What's that? Wikipedia describes bit \n\nrot as a "computing term used either to describe gradual decay of storage media or to \n\nfacetiously describe the spontaneous degradation of a software program over time." \n\nMore on CIO.com\nLegacy Wins In Build Versus Buy Battle\n\nStartup SOA Because It's More Than Integrating Legacy Systems\n\nIn an industry so accustomed to looking forward to the "new new thing" (to borrow from \n\nwriter Michael Lewis), bit rot could bring your company's operations to a grinding halt.\nEvery reader of this column has bit rot festering in their infrastructure. Some prime \n\nexamples are millions of lines of legacy code that have operated smoothly for decades and \n\nthen one day just don't work. Often this happens because obscure, latent code embedded deep \n\nwithin a strategically important legacy application doesn't play nice with new software you \n\nare installing. \n\nYoung programmers often make fun of bit rot. But according to Cerf it's no laughing matter, \n\nparticularly when your firm has no tech workers with the 20th-century skill sets who can \n\ndive deep into the problematic code to correct it.\n\nHow bad is the labor side of the bit rot problem? It's a hidden consequence of the coming Baby-Boomer retirement brain drain. The older workers in this group \n\n(now in their midfifties to midsixties) started their careers programming in Unix, Cobol and \n\nBasic. The younger ones (in their midforties to midfifties) worked with DB2, VisiCalc and \n\nMS-DOS.\n\nUnless you are a relatively new start-up company, I can guarantee you that legacy code \n\nwritten in now little-used languages is running and running well in your enterprise. But it \n\nwon't run forever.\n\nThe blogosphere seems to have settled on a three-part attack to conquer bit rot. First, \n\ndetermine just how much of your company's critical applications and operating systems run on \n\nlegacy code. Next, take a suggestion from Cerf and ask yourself how \n\naccessible the really critical legacy code is. And finally, retain or recruit workers with \n\nthe skill sets to make your 20th century code run efficiently in the 21st century.\n\nDo it now, or watch your infrastructure fall apart bit by bit. Or maybe faster.