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March 2018, Vol. 17, No. 1

The danger of ageism in the tech industry and ignoring the past

Noted skeptic and pragmatist George Santayana once quipped, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." This often-quoted aphorism came to mind recently as I listened to a marketing VP caution me about a chat I was scheduled to have with his boss, the CEO of an up-and-coming storage vendor. He told me I would be smart to refrain from mentioning IBM or Sun Microsystems or virtually any vendor with innovations that predated the year 2000. The CEO apparently believed the advent of Google at the beginning of the millennium was such a game-changer it rendered all prior tech obsolete. Clouds, virtualization and software-defined had changed everything we know about IT, the VP said, and his boss would shut down any discussion that referenced the "Dark Ages." This wasn't the first time I heard this sort of ageism in the tech industry. A couple years ago, I did a deep dive into the question of what would keep older IT careerists relevant in the brave new world of clouds and virtualization. My research into ageism in ...

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