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A new era for applications

By Arnaud Bacros, Managing Director Enterprise Benelux at Dell Technologies.The costs related to supporting and operating old applications is quite high, as they need to keep on functioning reliably. Moreover, adding new functionality and creating added value for customers and the organization can be complicated and time-consuming.

As an increasing number of applications is provided 'as a service', the question arises where and how we should manage our application portfolio: in our own datacenter or in the cloud? Should applications be rebuilt to better suit our (future) needs, or should we replace them all with several types of services?

Business managers often prefer a transition to the cloud for reasons such as security, flexibility and cost reduction. However, they often have no idea whatsoever about the complexity of a transition to the cloud.  Meanwhile, IT departments are trying to reduce the size of their application portfolio, only to realize that exactly the opposite is happening: the portfolio is rapidly increasing on the one hand and part of the software is ageing on the other hand.


New revenue and innovation

There are many reasons for these two seemingly contradictory forces. Often, they are caused by exceedingly short planning horizons, lengthy and complicated purchasing processes, a lack of lifecycle planning, and an insufficient time investment in qualitative application management. A wasted opportunity in this era, in which the underlying infrastructure is the foundation for a digital transformation and innovation, enabling the swift development of new types of business models and revenue streams.

This is one of the main reasons for the growing need for hybrid (cloud) solutions.  By combining best practices from different cloud providers with a private cloud, we can better ensure a high-quality delivery of mission-critical applications from the cloud up to the core and edge.  


Looking ahead

Most people don’t seem to realize that the future can be predicted quite accurately, as far as IT management is concerned anyway: migrations and upgrades always take place at the same pace. Therefore, Gartner recommends to plan at least 15 years in advance. This may seem complicated, but it’s not as hard as you might think at first.

In such planning, the first stages will obviously be the most detailed ones. They need an update based on new insights (at least once a year), preferable preceding the budgeting process. It is important to make clear choices. Start with a limited number of important applications and learn from this experience before scaling them. As the organization grows, particularly when on an international scale, you need to be able to scale rapidly while still delivering each application securely.

Meanwhile, you should understand that the 'mobile first' approach will not disappear in the short term. Software should therefore be purchased as a service, with the provider ensuring full functionality and a timely notification of any modification, thus avoiding that the ecosystem of applications, organizations and applications’ end users are affected by any form of maintenance.


Ensure the service quality

Application owners must at all time have (and grant) insight in how well the service meets the users’ and business expectations. A badly managed portfoliio is a liability and a genuine risk for the organization, as it may no longer comply with all legislation and regulations. That is why you need a thorough insight in the quality and performance of your portfoilio before you can decide on the best strategy: is there any room for improvement with the current assets or do you need to adopt a replacement strategy?


Interdisciplinary collaboration

It is important that the people in charge of the operations and technology and application support are equipped with the right tools to perform their tasks effectively. But the success of your strategy will equally depend on interdisciplinary communication. The various teams will, for instance, have to clearly agree on several topics: which functions to prioritize, how long applications should be kept up and running, where they should be hosted – on-premise or in the cloud – and moreover how to increase performance while decreasing costs.

The various teams should thoroughly discuss all of this and reach an agreement. Only then will they be able to clearly and unequivocally answer any question from the business departments on topics such as: 

- Total monthly cost, including support, upgardes and maintenance.

- Overview of historical maintenance- and upgrade-related costs

- Insight in future costs.

- Who has been access which applications from where, using which device(s)?

- Are your end-users satisfied with the applications, and how do you measure this?

- Insight in operational data and in the succes and failure rate of your applications. Was there any downtime? And if so, what has caused it and what were the consequences?


Anyone active in IT can tell you that application management is no longer what it used to be. Applications being consumed and managed entirely differently, compared to a couple of years ago, and software financing and management has changed drastically too. Your journey starts with your understanding of this new reality. Next, you need to bring together all parties involved to jointly consider how you can fully optimize your applications now and in the future at the lowest possible cost.