Legacy server work qualifies as essential

The worldwide health crisis is making legacy computing an essential operation. Companies using legacy server environments already know this. Now there’s a government list that affirms it.

The Department of Homeland Security has an “Advisory memorandum on identification of essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19 response.”

A prominent part of the 15-page document covers Information Technology.

You can expect that kind of advice from the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). It’s got an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce advisory list. Other federal agencies, State and local governments, and the private sector advise the CISA about which jobs are essential.

The list is thorough and wide-ranging. One paragraph can cover nearly everyone who works in IT.

“Suppliers, designers, transporters and other workers support the manufacture, distribution and provision and construction of essential global, national and local infrastructure for computing services. This includes cloud computing services and telework capabilities, business infrastructure, financial transactions/services, web-based services, and critical manufacturing.”

There are also “datacenter operators, including system administrators. IT managers and purchasers.” There are “engineers for data transfer solutions, software, and hardware.” Don’t forget “database administrators for all industries (including financial services).”

All of these jobs are essential. Legacy computing cuts closer to the bone of information, though. Servers running OpenVMS, MPE/iX, even Solaris and Tru64 — they usually host historical data and track sales and inventories. Manufacturing is managed by legacy. That’s infrastructure.

At a time when we are urged to pull on the same oar, IT is the mortar that holds our society and commerce in place. Long ago, an HP 3000 developer called the server a peaceful device. “It creates invoices, tracks receivables, records contracts. When those things are in the air, we stay away from war.” The developer, Wirt Atmar, started his IT career developing government calculations for nuclear attack throw-weights, plus projected casualties.

IT keeps the world connected. Nothing does that more efficiently, considering the labor needs, than legacy computing. Like a wartime effort from 80 years ago, conserving resources helps us win.



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