Building for the ages

Tom Limoncelli finds a quote he likes at the Sears Tower, and idly offers it for use by sysadmins:
"Therefore when we build let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such Work as our descendants will thank us for and let us think as we lay Stone on Stone that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them and that men will say as they look upon the labor and the wrought substance of them, 'See this our fathers did for us.' " --John Ruskin
It would be nice to think that what we build is meant to last forever, or even merely for years. But in this business, it doesn't.

Recently I've been called back to a previous employer's site, and it warms me a bit to see that systems I set up ten years ago are still doing today more or less exactly what I left them doing. But when I compare those systems to the computers of today, it is amazing that they are still around at all. In many circumstances, continuing to operate such a set of systems could even be considered irresponsible. (Not in this case -- the computers are original development and verification environments for a product which is still being supported.)

Ten years is a long time in this business, and to find something still running after that long is a rarity. This business operates on waves of change, and that change is only likely to continue into the future.