forklift upgrade
n. An upgrade to a computer network or other electronic system that requires a massive hardware investment.

Example Citations:
Manufacturers of profitable PBX systems, notorious for requiring forklift upgrades and heavy maintenance fees, need a new five-year plan: Call it survival.
—Ken Phillips, “Sphericall 1.0 Dissolves PBXes Into the LAN/WAN,“ PC Week, May 5, 1997

Underlying the communications industry‘s vision of the future is the assumption that the migration from today‘s so-called narrowband environment to the brave new world of broadband will be smooth, evolutionary and even transparent. Unfortunately, it may look more like a forklift upgrade.
—Mary Johnston, “The forklift upgrade to broadband ISDN,“ Network World, June 11, 1990

Earliest Citation:
Rolm users were forced to choose between an expensive "forklift upgrade" and keeping their old box with its large power-and space-consumption, poor growth path, complex bridges to network services, and a dead-end technology incompatible with any future ISDN (integrated services digital network) upgrade.
—Robert Feldman, "N. Telecom rebate offer is new volley in price war," MIS Week, March 7, 1988

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