by Thomas Wailgum

Cash for IT Clunkers: There’s No Debating the Need

Jul 31, 20092 mins
Enterprise Applications

Forget inefficient cars: Inefficient, aging hardware and software is killing U.S. business.

News broke on Friday that the U.S. Government’s highly successful “Cash for Clunkers” program was not, as has been reported and feared, stopping—even though new-car shoppers have gobbled up the $1 billion Congress initially set aside for it.

White House Officials encouraged consumers to continue to take advantage of the program. Other government officials, acting like good car salesmen, preached impulsivity and fear—of losing out on a great deal, of course. “We don’t know how long it will last, so people should go to their car dealers now if they want to take advantage of the program,” Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, was quoted as saying. (Hmmm. Michigan. Detroit’s in Michigan, right?)

The success of the “Cash for Clunkers” program got me thinking: Why couldn’t U.S. businesses and organizations that are besieged with legacy computing environments also get their hands on a good old-fashioned government subsidy?

So, just for some fun, let’s throw out some “mature” technologies that might qualify for a “Cash for IT Clunkers” program:

Let’s start off with mainframes: Isn’t it time? In addition, CIOs won’t have to keep posting ads for programmers with COBOL skills in AARP magazine.

Microsoft’s Windows 95 operating system? If you’re still running on that today…well, God bless and good luck.

How about the decades-old Federal Aviation Administration’s NADIN Air-Traffic System, which provides the rather critical data communications between air-traffic controllers and pilots?

The travel industry’s Sabre system, developed when disco was king, has to be looking a little gray in the tooth, no? Let’s put that one on a long cruise with the Palm Beach, Fla.-grandma set.

Then there’s SAP’s antiquated R/3 ERP system. After all these years of complex integrations and bolt-ons, isn’t it time to say auf wiedersehen to it?

What about green screen PCs and monitors? I think those are actually illegal in the United States.

IBM’s geriatric OS/2: Companies who admit to running OS/2 are rarer than people who admit to listening to Celine Dion.

So what else might qualify for the “Cash for IT Clunkers” program? Got a Compaq luggable lying around? A brick-sized cell phone? Some good old-fashioned Borland software? Let me know. P.S.: No nominating your older IT co-workers.

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