Post warranty hardware lessons from the Pentagon

Eight inch floppy disk

Posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It’s easy to believe that a progressive organization would use only cutting edge technologies wherever possible, and that older hardware should never be used for mission critical applications. So new revelations from the Pentagon may come as something of a surprise.

The US Government Accountability Office recently published a report detailing the use of legacy systems across a range of official bodies. Of greatest surprise was the section detailing the Department of Defense Strategic Automated Command and Control System – the system that control virtually the entire US nuclear arsenal, including intercontinental ballstic missiles. The audit process recorded that “This system runs on an IBM Series/1 Computer—a 1970s computing system— and uses eight inch floppy disks.”

Why?

The eight inch floppy disk was at its most popular in the early 1970s when Richard Nixon was still president – so why on earth would the world’s biggest nuclear superpower rely on an ancient technology? “In short, it still works,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Valerie Henderson.

Despite the relatively low capacity of floppy disks, and the slow read/write performance, they do the job of controlling nuclear missiles perfectly. They are also far more resilient to modern security risks, like malware – especially as you cannot normally find an eight inch drive to access the disks with.

What does this mean for your business?

If the US Government can run one of the most important control systems in the world using 40-year old hardware, there’s no reason at all your business cannot do the same. IBM ended official support for the Series/1 decades ago, so there’s no reason you cannot ignore EoSL edicts from your own OEM.

There are just two considerations:

  1. The system continues to work in its current role, or can be redeployed to provide an upgrade on another aspect of your infrastructure.
  2. You have a third party maintenance provider capable of supplying service and spare parts for your specific hardware.

If you can meet both these requirements, there’s no reason at all not to consider using post warranty systems. Doing so allows you to reduce operating costs and realize an even greater return on your original investment.

To learn more about post warranty support and maintenance, sign up for our free webinar, or give the sales team a call today.