The Case for Application Modernization
In IT, the symptoms are the proliferation of servers and storage systems. The actual disease is all the applications that the IT organization is trying to support.
As previously noted, most IT organizations have saved money by cutting back on comparatively simple stuff, such as eliminating excess server capacity by adopting virtualizaton, so any additional savings will have to come from much more difficult IT projects.
The one thing that holds application modernization projects back, however, is that these types of large-scale projects are perceived as overly risky. But in the face of a lackluster economy, a new survey of 220 global IT executives conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Hewlett-Packard suggests more IT organizations appear willing to take on the risks associated with an application migration in order to accommodate substantially lower IT budgets that appear to be with us for at least the next several years.
Under the guise of application modernization, many IT organizations are now either consolidating applications as part of an effort to not only reduce the number of applications they now need to manage, but also move those applications to less costly servers and middleware infrastructure.
According to Larry Acklin, HP product marketing manager for application services, the degree to which this is happening varies widely by application workload. But whenever possible, IT organizations appear to be trying to reduce their dependencies on proprietary platforms.
The providers of such proprietary platforms take issue with some of the analysis that results in many companies migrating applications to Intel-class servers, but the trend away from proprietary platforms continues unabated.
The biggest challenges, however, are first getting application stakeholders to give up their applications and then actually getting the actual funding required to modernize the application portfolio. Unlike virtualization, where the benefits are almost instantaneous, business executives are reluctant to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars in a tight economy even when it means potentially saving millions down the road.
Acklin says HP has moved to mitigate a lot of those concerns with services that substantially reduce the risk associated with any migration. But before attempting such projects, he says IT organizations need to sit down with business leaders to map out the potential risks versus rewards for the business in order to determine where application modernization makes the most sense.
Despite legitimate concerns over cost and risks, most businesses today are sorely in need of some form of application consolidation, without which the fundamental economics of enterprise IT won't change in any lasting way.