AI, “A Stack of Laptops” and the interesting connection between the two

stack of old laptops

Recently, I attended an event about the use of AI with a company’s cloud-based file sharing and collaboration product. While the event was informative and inspiring, it was a conversation I had while at the event that stuck with me. The conversation was with the CTO of a Seattle-based engineering firm. What started out as a discussion about how AI is going to change the world quickly turned into one about the role of Windows XP in his organization. The contrast between the two topics and the fact that both were on his mind underscored the vast range of issues facing today’s technology leaders. How do you successfully embrace new, world-changing technologies while also addressing legacy challenges that fall on the very other end of the spectrum? 

When the CTO asked me about Skytap and what we did, I gave him a quick overview of how Skytap is an infrastructure-as-a-service that makes it possible for companies to run IBM Power workloads as-is in the public cloud. After I explained that we were a destination cloud for workloads running on AIX, IBM i (AS/400), and other IBM Power based workloads, he asked me about x86. In response to his question, I replied with “sure, we actually got our start with old x86 workloads when I started at Skytap in 2009!” as I shared several customer examples of running Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003, and Red Hat 3.

The CTO latched onto Windows XP and explained a pain that he had. You see, he has a “stack of old laptops” that he’s forced to maintain as they have one remaining application that they have to fire up a few times a month that they haven’t found a replacement for, and it only runs on Windows XP.  “Could you help me with that?” I chuckled, smiled and said “sure, we can help you with that. In fact, we can make that stack of laptops go away.” 

The irony of the event and that conversation made me come to a realization about technology progression in our world. One moment a CTO may be figuring out how to revolutionize their business using Generative AI, and in their next Zoom meeting with their team, they are trying to figure out how to deal with Windows XP applications that their sales team can’t seem to get rid of. And while the span of these issues can be daunting, I do know that embracing the “new” while also solving for a modernization path for the “old” will be the key to any CTO’s success today and well into the future.

Meet the author:
Mike Neil headshot Mike Neil – VP of Solutions and Performance Engineering at Skytap

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