Making IT Lemonade – Out of Lemons

by David Fletcher on April 16, 2014

All too often, the IT environment you’re stuck with is far from ideal. Someone before you picked one system to do one thing, and another person chose a set of applications to take care of another issue. The last guy put half your servers on Linux and half on Microsoft. And of all the things you’ve got, a good share of them don’t play well together. The system has given you a bucket of lemons. You always hear people say “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It may not be easy, but we have some recipes.

Are these the situations you’re facing?

You’ve got a little bit of everything

So you’ve got something from everywhere, and everyone that’s ever come and gone left their mark. The days of the monolithic Microsoft shop are gone, which means you and the rest of the IT staff spend huge hunks of your time just getting everything to work together.

Now it’s your job to make sense of it all. A lot of people probably tell you that you need to streamline everything and settle on one set of applications. But there’s a problem: the people before you tried to do that, too. From now on, you have to find platform-agnostic and highly interoperable solutions. Fortunately, most good modern solutions let you work with what you’ve got, even if the people before you left a mess for you to clean up.

You’ve got aging lemons

Not a lot of people still talk about mainframes anymore. But they’re still there. Although your organization might have gone through a tech upgrade or two, odds are that you’ve still got a few machines hanging around from a long, long time ago. Maybe they’re still working fairly well, and they play vital roles in keeping business operations running smoothly. Maybe you have new mainframes and are running more of your transactions on that platform. That’s not really the issue. The big problem is that the applications you use are still terminal-based ones, and your business continues to rely heavily on them. Also, your terminal interface might be hard for your users to take advantage of, or the applications may not play well with one another.

Modern technologies and solutions can help you connect your old and new resources. Even if you have a mix of old and new mainframes you want to connect with a set of modern end-user machines running Windows 8, the two pieces of technology can still work together. Even if there are decades separating the two technologies.

You’ve just got to add a little sugar

If you’re like most IT professionals, you want the very best technology. You want things to run smoothly, and to give people the mobility and flexibility they want and need. A lot of people nowadays think achieving this means you need cloud capabilities. Often, business users might be asking for cloud applications too, even if they’re doing so just because it’s the latest buzzword. But you probably have an on-premises system and no money to invest in a cloud.

This is where things start to get sweeter. You already have the underlying infrastructure you need in that bushel of lemons you inherited. All you need to do now is add sugar. Certain modern solutions allow you to provide mobile access or a complete service-oriented architecture with the commodity servers, file systems and other solutions you already have in house, which makes your old lemons taste much sweeter.

You don’t get to choose the IT infrastructure you inherit, but you can do great things with it. Maybe you’re looking for terminal emulation so your people can get access to aging mainframes from modern machines. Maybe you’re looking for something that makes your on-premises servers act like a cloud. Maybe you want mobile printing. Whatever the case, you don’t have to go out and upgrade your entire infrastructure. All you need to do is take all the lemons you’ve inherited and make some sweet, refreshing lemonade.


Is it true that all good things must end? When it comes to enterprise technology, innovation never really ends. Today’s breakthroughs are tomorrow’s obsolescence.

Technology evolves.

Think about the applications, platforms, and processes that powered your business over the years. Many of them are gone, but did their replacements kill them off entirely? Or did they improve upon the same fundamental concepts underlying the old systems?

Right this moment, Microsoft is poised to end support for Windows XP. But perhaps XP’s demise just represents another stage in the evolution of technology. Maybe it isn’t “dying” at all.

Not long ago, we published an infographic chronicling the history of terminal emulation. From the dumb terminals of the 70s to Windows 95, it’s easy to declare obsolete technologies dead. But they didn’t really die. They progressed:

• Lotus 1-2-3 gave way to MS Excel
• WordPerfect handed the reins to Microsoft Word
• DOS handed supremacy to Windows
• Common security gaps closed thanks to affordable anti-virus protection
• Separation between enterprise and consumer tech yielded to BYOD

So, to what operating system should Windows XP give way? We generally recommend the eminently stable Windows 7, but you’ve certainly got options nowadays. What’s important is that you evolve with the times.

For the sake of evolutionary inspiration, we’ll leave you with the infographic:


Infographic: End of Life Support for Windows XP

March 19, 2014

It’s down to the wire: On April 8, 2014, Microsoft’s support for Windows XP will be coming to an end. That means no more security patches, updates or technical support for the popular operating system (nearly 30 percent of computers are still on XP!). That also means we could see the unleashing of viruses, spyware […]

Read the full article →

From COBOL to Mobile: The Evolution of Terminal Emulation (Infographic)

March 18, 2014

Mainframes, COBOL, dumb terminals, thick clients… There’s enough throwback computer lingo out there to make you yell “HLLAPI!” and don a pair of platform shoes. But as old-fangled as those terms may sound, many of the technologies they reference stuck around long after Studio 54 closed its doors. In fact, several of them are still […]

Read the full article →

Can You Believe the Predictions? What 2014 Really Holds for Business

February 26, 2014

The arrival of 2014 means everyone’s speculating about what the next twelve months have in store. But what, specifically, might the New Year portend for business? And what about the technology sector in particular? By now, scores of tech blogs, news outlets, and industry pundits have published forecasts for 2014, and several common predictions crop […]

Read the full article →

How to Help Your Boss Understand the Ramifications of Application Dependency

February 12, 2014

The persistence of legacy applications is an unavoidable business reality for enterprises around the world. That being a given, you might think consensus on the ramifications of legacy apps would be easy to reach, but that isn’t always the case. And failing to reach such consensus could push your organization into dangerous territory, IT-wise. Remember, […]

Read the full article →

How to Explain Application Integration to Your Mother-in-Law

January 29, 2014

Ever had trouble explaining an abstract computing concept to someone completely removed from the modern corporate workplace? To non-techies, even seemingly basic subjects like application integration can elicit blank stares, bewildered squints, and shoulder shrugs of defeat. Thankfully, there are ways to break such ideas down into easy-to-digest primers. Here’s how to explain application integration […]

Read the full article →

Futurecast: What 2014 Holds for Application Integration

December 27, 2013
Thumbnail image for Futurecast: What 2014 Holds for Application Integration

In the past, enterprise application integration (EAI) was a strictly app-to-app affair. Businesses would devise ways to integrate whatever applications they were already using with an eye toward better efficiency among disparate business units. But EAI is changing, with a more infrastructure-based, data-centric approach emerging. What does that mean for enterprise? While it’s impossible to […]

Read the full article →

Why It’s OK to Continue with Windows 7 (For Now)

December 18, 2013

While many organizations scramble to prepare for the end of Windows XP support, you’re breathing easy. That’s because your team migrated to Windows 7 long ago. You tested and tweaked mission-critical applications, discussed the transition with stakeholders and users, went forward with the rollout, and called it a day. Good for you. But there’s just […]

Read the full article →

3 Innovations Changing Enterprise IT

August 1, 2013

Once treated as nothing more than another business cost center, IT is now an integral aspect of the business itself – and corporate decision makers are starting to catch on. In the years to come, organizations with the most promising growth prospects won’t be those that “waited for the platforms to mature” or “stuck with […]

Read the full article →