KJR is back in business.

I’d love to blame 1&1 for last week’s mess. But to be fair, I deserve a lot of the blame, because I refused to accept the same counsel I give every client I work with on the enterprise technical architecture front.

I’ll get to that. But first, I have to unload. And so …

It happened like this:

A couple of years ago, 1&1 announced its new and improved system for building e-commerce sites. I tried the demo — they provided a temp URL for that purpose — and couldn’t make head or tail out of it. The new system was obviously more capable and absent a kludge or two that made the old system irritating.

But it had the downside of being horribly unintuitive, and 1&1’s on-line help mostly helped with the obvious stuff.

No problem. The old system was stable and did what I needed, kludges notwithstanding.

Then, last year I started receiving an occasional message saying they were going to shut off the old system. The last one I saw, dated sometime in November, said the last date would be the previous January.

I should have ignored the typo, but I was busy and figured I’d get one more warning before the end came.

I also believed their letter when it said that if I didn’t convert my site, 1&1 would convert it for me.

Instead … Things just kept on working until the day they didn’t.

Last Monday, to be precise.

No final warning. For that matter, 1&1 only converted my home page, and didn’t do a very good job of that.

As long as I’m unloading on 1&1, they also shut off subscribe/unsubscribe for the bulk mailing system I’d been using.

And, for that matter, the credit-card processor pre-integrated into the old system wasn’t available for the new system either.

All of this made me, even by my normal standards, cranky.

To be fair to 1&1, once I managed to get through the hold queue, which was, as you might imagine, quite long last Monday evening, 1&1’s telephone support staff were as helpful as could be, and, I have to admit, far more patient with me than I was with them.

Also, I felt better about my difficulties in figuring out their new system when I realized that for a good half of my questions the telephone support folks were putting me on hold so they could ask their experts how to handle the challenge.

So I’m not telling you to avoid 1&1 because they ticked me off. If, for some reason or other, you’re in the mood to start up a new e-commerce business and need a site-building, hosting, and bulk mailer all in one, their technology seems to do the job, once you slog through the process of figuring it out.

Why does this matter to you?

It’s like this. There’s a meme out there that says we humans only use 90 percent of our brains. The meme is false. We use 100 percent of our brains all the time.

We use 10 percent for thinking and 90 percent for rationalizing. That makes 100 percent.

There are businesses out there that still use versions of Windows and Office that haven’t been supported for years. Why? They’re rationalizing.

See, the cost and inconvenience associated with getting current is counted in hard currency. The benefits, on the other hand, count as risk avoidance, as in, there will come a day when they won’t be able to load the old OS on new hardware, or in a virtualized or cloud environment on whatever virtualization technology is in play.

The rationalization is, there’s always something else that’s more urgent than the conversion.

Right up until the time there isn’t. It’s pay it now or pay it … a much bigger it … later.

What I recommend to clients I advise on the enterprise technical architecture management front is to adopt a “design principle” that addresses lifecycle management. Possibilities include:

  • Stay current (more likely, begin migration projects shortly after new releases are announce to allow the situation to stabilize).
  • Stay one major release behind the current one, so as to always be on supported software while minimizing the risks associated with brand-new releases.
  • Alternate between adopting and skipping major releases. You stay current enough.
  • Update to new releases only when they either (1) have compelling new features you want; or (2) you have no choice any more.

I try to talk clients out of that last one, for all the obvious reasons.

Too bad I didn’t talk myself out of it when it came to 1&1’s site-builder system.

Clearly, it’s their fault, because that’s the nature of fault, and for that matter rationalization, isn’t it?