By Brian Weerdenburg, Director, Sales Engineering, Futurestate IT
Brian Weerdenburg is a guest blogger from our friends, Futurestate IT. Futurestate IT offers AppRx, the automated SaaS-based Application Compatibility and Currency Management™ platform that enables companies to rapidly assess, migrate and monitor applications to ensure they are current and compatible with the changing IT environment. AppRx dramatically reduces the time, cost, and risk of application migration projects (i.e. Windows 7), as well as ongoing application portfolio management. Futurestate IT is a Microsoft Partner, and offers its AppRx solution via resellers and system integrators.
The seemingly daunting task of getting your application portfolio under control isn’t as difficult as one would think, provided you’ve prepared for it properly. It’s most likely that you haven’t given a lot of thought to application portfolio rationalisation for a long while, but now it’s back on your radar as you are faced with a desktop migration. Several of the organizations that we have been working with lately did not restrict end user access to their devices, allowing them to install just about anything that they wanted to. The end result of this becomes evident when you collect your application inventory data. As a rule of thumb, most small or mid-sized businesses will have 1 application for every 10 users. You may find that you have 4 to 5 times that amount when you view your inventory data. In reality, it’s not going to be that bad. The first thing you need to do is to remove the non-application information from that list. If you have collected your inventory list electronically, you will have a lot of drivers, patches, runtimes, and other such elements in your portfolio. By identifying these elements, your can isolate the actual applications that you will need to focus on in your rationalisation effort.
Once you have identified the “real” applications that have been installed in your environment, you can begin your rationalisation effort. Over time, staff may have installed different applications that perform the same function as another application in your environment. A good example would be a file compression utility, like 7Zip, installed instead of WinZip, or a PDF reader like Foxit installed along with Adobe Reader. Sometimes these are applications that the end user is more familiar with from using them at home, or maybe they required a feature that the standard application did not provide. In any case, it creates the potential for more work for support staff as a result of providing support for redundant applications, and a possible security risk by introducing unnecessary apps into the environment. These types of situations provide good candidates for rationalisation. Grouping your applications by function, and by version, will help you more easily identify these potential rationalisation candidates. This will allow you to share that information with the application owners who will be making the decision to keep or discard a good portion of the inventory.
There are many factors that should go into the rationalisation decisions that your organization will be making. The ultimate goal of application rationalisation is to lower the cost of portfolio management by trimming away applications that are no longer needed while delivering the services the business needs to function properly and efficiently. Therefore, the first question you need to ask about each application is: Does this application provide any value to the business? If so, then you work through the rest of your criteria from there. The criteria that you create as part of your rationalisation process are largely dependent on your organization. When thinking about your portfolio, remember to view your applications as business assets. If your application costs you more than the value that it provides, maybe it’s time to replace or retire that application. If you have multiple applications performing the same function, ask yourself why. While it’s possible that you may require more than one version of an application to deliver business services due to dependencies on legacy files, or unique application requirements within a business unit, it is more likely that some people either have chosen not to upgrade, or a portion of your users no longer use an application so they haven’t bothered to update it.
The migration to a new desktop operating system can be a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity to “clean house” and remove applications that are no longer used or required. By taking the time to rationalise your portfolio, you can ensure that the new environment will be easier for you to manage and will most likely result in significant cost savings as a result of streamlined service delivery. You will have fewer applications to manage, license, and support, resulting in lower costs and resource effort, giving you the opportunity to invest more time and money into delivering the services that your business actually needs to stay competitive. AppRx is a SaaS based application rationalisation and portfolio management solution. It provides automated rationalisation of an organization’s portfolio and identifies applications that should be retired, consolidated or modernized in order to eliminate and improve portfolio health. Learn more on how AppRx can help with application rationalisation.