In the past few years I have a consistent analogy for the changing perception of software in corporations. Software has gone from being considered as the paint on the walls of the building, changed every few years, to the building itself, part of the long term assests of the company. This changes the approach to current software from a philosophy of replacement to a philosophy of maintenance. It also should change the approach of building software from one of knee jerk response to today's need to careful planning, architecting and designing of an entity that will be around for decades.
The rhetoric of the software industry has changed to match the perception. For instance, we now talk of trustworthy software. However I do not believe the practice of software matches the rhetoric. Others agree. Fernando Pereira has referred me to an article by Dan Bricklin titled, "Software that lasts 200 years." In the article Bricklin discusses the changes necessary for prepackaged software to meet these longevity aspirations. I highly recommend the article and would be interested in your opinions both of the article and whether you feel that the software industry and the software engineering community are addressing these challenges. Later!
A side note - Fernando Pereira, has a terrific web log called Fresh Tracks where he discusses an amazing array of topics including skiing, books, science and music. Highly recommended. Fernando is chairperson of the Computer and Information Science Department of the University of Pennsylvania.