Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Anders Wallgren, Pete Waterhouse, Pat Romanski, Tim Hinds

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

Microservices Expo: Article

‘We Don’t Know’: IT’s Guilty Secret

The complexity of the enterprise application portfolio presents major challenges in responding to evolving business needs

Factors such as growing complexity, staff turnover rates, poor documentation, changes in responsibilities and business strategy have contributed to a lack of understanding and possession of appropriate skills in key corporate IT systems. The current gap in knowledge and know-how has put tremendous strain on today's IT department, which is expected to manage and execute all aspects of the business portfolio.

Possessing a deep understanding of each and every IT system can be a challenge, especially given that some of the countless enterprise software applications have undergone over 40 years of change and enhancement. However, admitting a lack of understanding and awareness will only further damage IT's already-precarious reputation. So develops IT's guilty secret - failing to tackle what it does not know.

Downstream impact on the IT department's ability to manage all aspects of delivery, cost, risk and operational efficiency is inevitable. How should IT leaders deal with this skeleton in the IT closet?

The Knowledge Gap
Unlike capital investments in physical assets, whose value changes over the years, the majority of software applications keep and increase their intrinsic business value and are rarely overhauled or replaced. Over time, these applications also continue to consume the majority of the IT budget.

The majority of IT organizations feel unable to deliver new requirements on time and often suffer from the high costs associated with doing so. Large portions of the budget taken up by mandatory "business as usual" tasks (routine maintenance, scheduled updates and deliveries, software and hardware updates, critical fixes, regulatory and legislative change projects) combine to form the growing phenomenon of IT debt as a result of the business demanding change faster than its underlying software assets can cope.

With IT in a constant fire-fighting mode, the less time-critical tasks such as routine documentation, internal training, knowledge transfer, or exploratory planning projects are shelved to allow for more pressing concerns.

There are a variety of options for dealing with these types of issues, including internal application overhaul projects and outsourcing to professional services organizations. Regardless of the chosen approach, the ability to appreciate and understand the existing applications and how they currently operate is the first step in determining how and what to change.

An Enterprise Application Challenge
Addressing a lack of knowledge needs to focus on the day-to-day manifestation of the problem:

  • Poor management control: IT staff having limited insight into the application portfolio and, as a result, cannot assign resources to work on what matters most to the business.
  • Slow turnaround on business needs: Applications become inflexible to be adapted quickly and without risk. Business users and IT staff struggle to translate requirements into applicaiton results.
  • Inefficient development processes: Global development teams spend up to as much as 80% of their budgets on maintenance activities, draining resources away from new, high-value projects.
  • Difficulty in selecting modernization projects: Businesses recognize the value of modernizing their application portfolios but need insight to prioritize and assign budget to these high-value activities.

Winning the Knowledge Battle
Most IT organizations face a reality of having no single group or individual that knows enough about the core systems to act as genuine subject matter experts on those parts of the IT estate. The age, complexity and inadequate investment over time has all but seen to that.

Power and control IT requires knowledge and insight: a centralized business and technical insight into core applications, enabling global IT teams to identify, prioritize and execute development activities that realign applications with current business requirements. The only viable way to win the battle is to use technology to regain the knowledge. Systems to collect detailed insight into an application portfolio, at a detailed technical level with supporting business and end-user information, can provide a centralized repository that can be securely accessed by users throughout the development team.

The information will need to include:

  • Rich technical insights: The analysis of source code across dozens of environments - from the mainframe to distributed applications - can provide detailed insights into the structure and function of even the largest and most complex systems.
  • Subject matter expertise: Users can discover and describe their applications in business terms so business users, analysts, managers, and architects focus their ‘business lens' on the logic, processes, architecture and issues that exist in the applications that automate businesses.
  • Additional insights: To further technical insights, users can collect additional related and business-level information about the app portfolio from third-party sources like HR, ERP, PPM, ALM and business service management technologies. The collected information provides powerful management intelligence about the cost, value, risk and priorities of an application portfolio.

The Benefits of Regaining Control
Seeing the ‘whole picture' provides improved business transparency so that applications can be reviewed, assessed and renewed to provide stronger support for the business's needs.

For architects, analysts and development professionals, increased visibility delivers a number of rewards. Centralized and detailed insight into the structure of applications means team members can quickly get up to speed and become more productive on even the most complex applications, boosting productivity by at least 20 percent.

As the analysis activity becomes more efficient, so will the development tasks. By sharing key analysis results through a common interface, such as Eclipse, to the developers' desktops, IT managers can help further improve the effectiveness of the change program.

More generally, detailed application insight enables technicians to discover, organize, and document core business processes buried within their applications much faster. This enables companies to find and - where necessary - reuse proven business rules in maintenance or larger change projects, such as SOA enablement, regulatory compliance, third -party software upgrades or major modernization projects.

IT - The Omniscient Innovator
The complexity of the enterprise application portfolio presents major challenges in responding to evolving business needs and represents a difficult secret reality for IT leaders. Application portfolio management and analysis tools are an effective first step in helping organizations understand their applications and prioritize their modernization efforts.

The ability to analyze and establish knowledge of critical systems across the entire IT estate is important in driving efficiency throughout an organization. It will help form a bridge between absent understanding of existing applications and how and what changes are necessary to modernize them. This will clear a path to innovation that is as smart as it is efficient, and should help IT to escape the knowledge gap that is all too often IT's guilty secret.

More Stories By Derek Britton

Derek Britton is an IT professional with over 20 years software industry experience. A computer science graduate from De Montfort University, Derek has held a variety of software engineering, technical consulting and product management positions in the IT industry, and is currently Director of Product Marketing at Micro Focus, the leaders in enterprise application modernization. Find Derek on Twitter at @derekbrittonuk.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that FalconStor Software® Inc., a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FalconStor Software®, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform. Its flagship solution FreeStor®, utilizes a horizonta...
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...