Why Enterprise Applications Never Retire

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Why Enteprise App Portfolios Get Bloated

Check out new research from HP and Forrester.

When it comes to managing applications, there's an assumption that somehow the process is rational. And yet, in the enterprise we see redundant applications and sometimes even applications still running that nobody uses.

In a survey of 206 U.S. IT executives conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Hewlett-Packard, it becomes painfully clear just who the real enemy is in application management: a business unit that refuses to let an application be retired and and and IT department too busy creating new applications to retire older ones.

According to Phil Murphy, a principal analyst with Forrester, a big part of the problem is that neither the business or the IT department knows how to keep the information in a legacy application available to users without keeping the application running. This not only prevents retiring the application, but the legacy infrastructure on which the application runs never goes away, either.

HP, of course, has a vested interest in identifying the problem. The company today rolled out version 10 of its Unified Functional Testing suite, which facilitates communication between developers and testers, adds a free extensibility testing module and is integrated with a new version of its Service Test Management tool designed specifically for testing composite applications that consist of multiple classes of user interfaces and programming models.

As applications become not only more complex, but also more frequently updated, application testing challenges expand commensurately. As such, HP and others are trying to make it easier to track the volumes of changes being made to applications not only when they are initially developed, but also as they grow and evolve.

But managing all that complexity no matter how good the tools are comes at a cost. Spending time and money on software licenses no one uses leaves less funding and staff available to modernize the company's enterprise applications.

And yet, the first people to complain about any application modernization and rationalization process are the business people who in the very next breath will complain about the high cost of IT. We're all used to hearing business people complaining about how IT doesn't "get" the business, but it looks like a lot of business people don't really "get" the business of IT, either.