Business IT needs to step up into the 21st century

There is a lot of discussion going on at the moment about Firefox' rapid release cycles, releasing Firefox 5 just a few weeks after Firefox 4. A lot of business customers are complaining about this, saying that the testing cycle of FF4 is still ongoing, and now it's EOL already. Others think that it should be Firefox 4.0.2 or 4.1 to appease both.

I say that Business IT finally needs to move into the 21st century and embrace this thing called "Internet". Why do you need a long testing cycle for a web browser? This is most likely a sign that your internal web applications are written for a specific browser, usually Internet Explorer 6. It means that your web applications contain countless hacks for that browser and because you didn't upgrade to Internet Explorer 7 and 8 when they came out in 2006 and 2009 respectively. It means that you have amassed considerable technical debt, and now you have to pay the piper.

I say: Sucks to be you. The Web is improving fast. When you wrote that 1.1 Application that displays an Oracle Database in a data grid, you made a commitment to the web. You committed to abandon a stable platform like Windows (even with all the negative reactions to Vista, Microsoft is doing a lot to ensure backwards compatibility) and chose a platform that has been chaotic, anarchistic and unstable since the dawn of time, or at least since Netscape 2.

The year is 2011. You don't have to embrace HTML5, but you should make sure all your applications work in IE8, Firefox, Chrome and Safari/Mac without hacks, because then browser updates will be no problem. If you are still on Internet Explorer 6 or 7, upgrade to 8 (XP) or 9 (Modern Windows). If you are vendor-locked in to IE6 - I'm sorry, but you sucked. Your Purchasing Department really dropped the ball when they bet on IE6, because no sane company ties itself to a single product version of anything.

If you wrote an in-house web app or browser extension, then just upgrade it. And don't tell me anything about cost here - your business made the decision to go to the web, so if changes to the web environment come as a surprise, you didn't do your homework properly. Please, go back and write Windows Client apps again or do your job properly. If you want to be a web developer, then you need to do more than just drag/drop a DataGridView and connect it to a SqlDataSource. If you want to be an IT Person, learn how to work with the developers to make them change their apps.

Or, more likely: Continue to whine about how fast stuff changes, how vendors dare to improve their products, how they change the version number. Continue to embrace the waterfall model, get obsessed with version numbers, create test plans that take a year to execute, and stay out of touch with the real world. After all, business needs are more important than quality.

Just do me one favor then: Make sure that your crappy web apps can't be easily hacked. I'm getting tired with incompetent companies constantly losing my customer data to hackers. But then again, there are no penalties for losing customer data, so my plea will go unheard.