Feeds

Oh no, RBS has gone titsup again... but is it JUST BAD LUCK?

You'll be SHOCKED at how recently shillings were still in play in some banks' systems

High performance access to file storage

Storagebod And here we go again, another IT systems failure at RBS.

RBS appears to have been having a remarkable run of high-profile core-system failures, but I suspect that it has been rather unlucky or at least everyone else has been lucky. Ross McEwan, the new chief executive of RBS admitted to us in a canned statement that "decades of under-investment in IT systems" is to blame.

Decades seems to be an awful long time, but may well be accurate; certainly when I started working in IT 25 ago, the rot had already set in. For example, a retail bank where I once worked had its core standing order system written in pounds, shillings and pence with a translation routine sitting on top of it – yet many of these systems were supposed to have been rewritten as part of the millennium-bug investigations.

Never mind... pass me the sticky tape

However, most of this didn’t happen. Whole-scale rewrites of systems that were decades old – when only a few people understood how they worked – were simply not a great investment... It seemed companies were satisfied with just patching it up and moving on.

RBS is not going to be the only large company sitting on a huge liability in the form of legacy applications; pretty much all of the banks do as well as many others in other industries. Applications have been moved from one generation of mainframe to the next and they still generally work, but the people who know how they really work are long gone.

Yet this is no longer constrained to mainframe operations; many of us can point at applications running on kit which is 10 years or more old on long-deprecated operating-systems. Just talk to your friendly DBA about how many applications are still dependent on Oracle 8 and in some cases even earlier databases. Every data centre has an application sitting in the corner doing something no one quite understands... and no one wants to turn it off just in case.

Faced with ever-declining IT budgets – either by way of a real decline or being expected to do more with the same amount – legacy applications are getting left behind. Yes, we come across attempts to encapsulate the application in a VM and run it on the latest hardware, but it still does not fix the legacy issue.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it ... but the thing is, most software is broken – it's just that you’ve just not yet come across the condition that breaks it. Now the condition that breaks it may well be the untrained operator who does not know the cunning work-around to keep an application running; work-arounds simply should not become standard operating procedure.

Question is as we chase the new world of dynamic operations with applications churning every day: who is brave enough to argue for budget to go back and fix those things which aren’t broken. Who is going to be brave enough to argue for budget to properly decommission legacy systems, you know those systems who only have one user who happens to have a C at the beginning of their job title?

Now it seems that Ross McEwan may be one who is actually being forced into taking action; is anyone else going take action without a major failure and serious reputational damage? Or are you just feeling lucky, punks? ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.