Application Rationalization: Preparing for the Move to Windows 10 and Beyond

One of the major challenges that CIOs face in enterprise-class organizations is that of application sprawl. Enterprise organizations typically have accumulated thousands of applications that must be actively maintained and supported every day. Even so, there is a good chance that a relatively small percentage of those applications are actively being used on a regular basis. Carrying unused or redundant applications in your portfolio is often a sign of disconnect between the business and IT. That's where an application rationalization strategy comes in.

For instance, unused applications consume network and hardware resources that could be better used for other purposes. Likewise, patching and maintaining underused applications translates directly to wasted man-hours and wasted money. According to some estimates, application sprawl can cost an enterprise class organization millions of dollars each year ( software/how-to-rationalize-your-application-portfolio.html ).

The best way to combat application sprawl is to make application rationalization a required step in your Application Readiness process (Figure 1). Application rationalization strategy is essentially a systematic method for determining which applications are useful and needed by the business, and which ones are redundant, add no value and should be retired or replaced.

The key to making an application rationalization strategy work is to come up with a rationalization strategy for ‘right sizing’ your application portfolio, and then implementing a continuous process to ensure that as new applications are added they are not duplicates, redundant, or can replace another version that is already deployed. A point in time project to application rationalization requires a lot of time, effort, and collaboration with the business owners, but once complete, maintaining a rationalized portfolio as a part of your daily application management will continue to add value. At the same time however, rationalization techniques requiring significant effort tend to yield the most dramatic results. Even so, the best approach is to adopt a continual application rationalization strategy.

Application rationalization strategy is all about identifying and removing applications that: are technically inferior, have multiple versions, have outlived their life span, or are no longer needed because of changes in business processes or strategy.

Often times, major IT projects, like desktop transformations, are the driving force behind application rationalization initiatives. Before an organization can migrate to a new platform, they must do extensive testing to ensure that applications continue to function as expected after the new operating system has been put into place. Of course, thoroughly testing all your applications for compatibility with a new operating system takes a lot of effort. This effort can be greatly reduced when you retire and consolidate applications that are out of date or no longer needed.

An operating system migration can be thought of like moving from one house to another. Moving to a new home means packing up everything that you own so that you can take it with you. However, moving isn’t cheap and the more stuff that you have, the more the move will cost you. There is cost associated with the number of cardboard boxes, the size of the moving truck, and the number of professional movers required.