How many of you have a smartphone? I know opinion is mixed on which is the best one. Some of you will be Samsung fans and others will be Apple fans. I personally am an iPhone 6 Plus user. As a technologist I’m always thinking about the technology we use today and what life was like before we had it. I think the picture probably sums it up quite nicely.
But you know all of this and it’s not where I’m heading. How many of you also had the original iPod? You remember the one, black and white display, micro drive and you know what actually very little else, but it sure was a pretty little thing and 10’s of millions of us bought them. It completely changed the way that we purchased and consumed music. And that same device, over the course of the next 10 years evolved. Flash came along and it adapted, touch screens came along and it adapted, it became the phone that we all (well a significant number of us according to current statistics) came to admire and use today. It has a legacy, an incredible legacy.
Looking at individuals, you have to agree that Steve Jobs has a legacy. His legacy was that he created technology, incredible technology that has fundamentally changed our lives and the world that we live in. And from its inception in 1976 he was able to create one of the largest companies in the world today.
Legacy is an amazing word. If you have it, then its something to be incredibly proud of. If you can aspire to create a legacy that your children or their children would be proud of then you are truly an amazing individual.
So when I hear the word Legacy thrown around as some sort of slur against technology companies that have a history and track record in the industry, not only is it a completely irrelevant thing to say, I also think it takes something that everyone aspires to create and simply dismisses it. I’m okay with any term or aspersion so long as it’s backed up by something substantive, but throwing out the word legacy like it’s a bad thing with absolutely no clarity or definition is in my mind very sloppy.
I think one reason that it’s left out there with no definition is that if a startup company uses the term and provides definition or clarity, they run the risk at some point of becoming the legacy they cast upon everyone else.
In the world of Flash we’ve already moved from SLC to eMLC to MLC and now to TLC and we have Storage Class Memory (SCM) coming fast and all of these have very different characteristics. So if your technology was designed originally for SLC then is it now in fact legacy? The way I hear companies use the term would mean, Yes it is! Which is why the comment is such nonsense.
The next time someone says this to you, have them define exactly what they mean, have them tie it to a specific technology, media type or the age of a technology, then ask them at what point they themselves become a legacy! And while your doing this it’s worth keeping in mind…
The World Wide Web was invented in 1991
Linux in 1991
Salesforce founded in 1999
VMware is now 17 years old
and IP which is now the predominant Network topology is over 40 years old
Are these all legacies? Computing models have changed, media has changed but these technologies adapt and continue.
Recently I’ve even heard people in EMC’s XtremIO team bandying around the term legacy. So what does that say about VNX or VMAX or Isilon or Data Domain? It effectively puts every one of these technologies into the ‘Legacy’ category. I wonder how the developers and the managers of these teams feel about this? Not good would be my guess.
I’m proud of NetApp’s legacy in the storage industry, but I’m equally proud of our ability to innovate and adapt as it evolves. If as an individual you are able to constantly improve but also be creating a legacy for anyone that follows then that’s one hell of a thing to accomplish and not something that should be allowed to be dismissed, or worse still even made to be somehow negative.
When the next vendor walks into your office and talks about a current and innovative technology being legacy, pick up your iPhone, your Samsung Galaxy or whichever smartphone is the one you use, wave it at them and then tell them to move on!