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Don’t be held hostage to legacy IT (#2): Rationalizing your Enterprise

chained to computer.jpgBy:  Tom Klinect, Application Modernization Consultant, Hewlett Packard Company


You have watched in astonishment your competition catch and then overtake you. How could they do that? You have been the leader and acquired market share and grown significantly more than they have.  It’s time to take a look at your organization, a real close look.


Remember all those acquisitions which gave you that edge? They also came with baggage: infrastructure. You were able to integrate them into your existing organization structure, however after acquiring more and more companies and continually integrating them into your infrastructure, you have managed to have three sales tracking systems – which have not been integrated. As you review your enterprise you see thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of applications – and those are only the ones you can readily see. And don’t forget your shadow IT.   There are a lot of applications in the enterprise that are not maintained by IT. In addition, there are several more systems that came with each acquisition; a lot which you never realized you had. You suddenly realize that you may be paying for tens of thousands of applications. You have bloat in the enterprise that is just too daunting to resolve.


Your competition had the same issue. However they took proactive steps to minimize the impact on the bottom line.  They were not paralyzed by the magnitude of the sprawl.  Instead, they rationalized their entire organization and then moved forward with tracking their smaller software foot print. They removed the shadow IT and integrated those functions into products which were maintained by IT. But how did they do it—better yet how did they start?


This is the toughest part of the journey into becoming agile in today’s market. Realizing that you can do the same with less is somewhat of a revelation. Taking systems which are similar and merging them into a single piece of software which allows the organization to accomplish the same tasks with much less overhead (OpEX) is tough love!


What about the items which provide little benefit but consume resources you need to manage (you know the ones I’m talking about)? Like reporting systems which produce a single report that could be easily integrated into your other reporting systems (that you haven’t taken the time to merge) and therefore you still spend time to maintain. You need to create backups for this class of application, and keep the hardware running. Each of them takes valuable dollars away from more strategic applications. Are these applications relics from days gone by?  Yes. You can no longer afford to keep applications which do not align with the business direction.


Yes, you do have a lot of applications which align to the business direction and provide valuable return on their investment.  However, many items remain a drain on funding, causing vital systems to languish.  Some of these are critical to the business today but could be heading toward obsolescence in the future.   Remember when monolithic systems were all the rage in the 90’s? Everyone built single purpose applications which did little to allow other applications to either feed into or from them. They are still critical and they need to be maintained—but do they all need to be modernized? No.


Rationalizing your enterprise can put applications into buckets and let you start the pruning process. You need to link a business process to each application:

  • If there is no linkage—retire it.
  • If there are multiple applications performing the same function – combine them.
  • If there are applications which match the business, but they are not agile enough to allow business to innovate – put them on a support plan and set a target date for their retirement.


The applications that remain are all business related and agile enough to allow you to move forward with them.  Invest in them and continue their innovation to better match future business processes.


So now you have a plan to: Retire, Invest, Support and Merge your applications landscape. Now you need to move forward and work on another area—hardware.


Next up:  That Pesky Hardware



Previous blogs by Tom Klinect


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About the Author


Tom Klinect.jpgTom Klinect, Application Modernization Consultant, Hewlett Packard Company

Tom has 34 years of experience in the information technology industry, the last 20 years in the field of IT and Applications Transformation.  He currently leads HP’s effort to transform legacy systems to commodity x86 hardware, specifically focused on the “Server-2-Server” market.  He joined HP after working in Microsoft’s Enterprise Platform Modernization Group.    

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