forklift upgrade
n. An upgrade to a computer network or other electronic system that requires a massive hardware investment.
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 05, 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
1988 (earliest)
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 07, 1988
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