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Application consolidation analysis

posted Apr 13, 2013, 12:19 AM by Jageshwar Tripathi
Over the period of time IT ecosystem becomes complex due to development or many silos and often leads to redundant servers, applications, databases and other IT elements.  Managing these redundancies become a nightmare.  Duplicate systems for similar functionality have many challenges:
  • No single view of customer due to multiple applications and hence multiple databases
  • More cost to maintain duplicate systems
  • More hardware cost to host duplicate systems
  • More personal cost
  • Higher licensing cost

There are two types or areas of consolidation: Hardware consolidation and Application consolidation. Focus of IT consolidation efforts have been in server consolidation by moving to cloud and reducing hardware cost but application consolidation is also an area with lots of benefits and cost saving opportunities.

Benefits of application consolidation

Reduced licensing cost

As a result of consolidation, number of software vendors reduces and hence licensing cost is reduced. Less number of applications means less servers, less operating systems and less number/type of databases. As a result less number of overall licensing requirements.

Reduced operating cost

Less number of applications means less number of servers needed and hence operating cost of servers is reduced. Consolidated application portfolio also means less processing needs by better utilization of computing resources.

Reduced support and maintenance cost

Since number of applications, databases and as a results less OS, hardware is required, support and maintenance staff required is also reduced. Consolidated application portfolio reduces cost of support and maintenance

Improved information quality

By consolidation of application, duplicate data across organization also reduces and single view of data becomes possible, as a result quality of information improves. There are many benefits of Master Data Management and application consolidation makes it possible to achieve it.

Improved end user efficiency

End users have to deal with fewer application, they have to learn fewer but standard interfaces to do their jobs, this increases their efficiency and results in to improved productivity.

Better IT management

Consolidation makes IT ecosystem simple, standardization increases and there is better control on IT resources.

Different options

  • List duplicate applications and decide what to do about duplicates- e.g. retire, eliminate
  • Application from different platforms can be hosted on a common/single platform
  • There may be many database instances which can be reduced
  • One of the application or database can be standardized, eliminating others

Things to consider

  • Avoid vendor lock-in- try open standards, may be source
  • Consider platform independence and portability while selecting APIS and Tools
  • Put sufficient focus on sound architecture and design- scalability, availability, fail-over, modularity 

Steps in application consolidation

  • Application consolidation assessment and analysis
  • Identification, procurement and development of tools, techniques & strategies
  • POC and Pilot with identified tools and techniques
  • Implementation (migration)
  • Testing (including SIT and acceptance testing)
  • Post migration training and support

Application consolidation assessment and analysis

  • Make an inventory of existing applications and infrastructure
  • Identify as is architecture
  • Identify different consolidation options and their costs
  • Define to be architecture (infrastructure, information and application)
  • Identify different vendors and cost
  • Make a time boxes plan with phased migration
  • Identify risks and mitigation strategies

Tools, techniques & strategy

How to migrate, what should be the approach, which tools and techniques are required (for example database migration or data correction etc) should be identified. Required tools should be available (developed or procured)

POC and Pilot

Before committing actual resources for a big task of migration and putting whole business at risk it is better to go for a POC (proof of concept) to verify vendors claim, effectiveness of tools and techniques etc. 
If POC is positive a pilot should be taken for testing those tools, techniques and strategies on part of the applications. This not only gives and idea how things will actually work but also avoids risks at later stages.

Implementation

Migration of applications or consolidation in defined phases to be carried out. Monolithic one go implementation may have its own challenges. Implementation phases may not be too far but there should be a verification time or review time available to look into the issues and take a corrective action.

Testing

Early testing or verification by end user is important. There may be different kinds of verification or testing needed for example testing to check if functionality which was working earlier is still working, whether systems are integrated correctly or not and performance testing of the applications on new platform etc.

Post migration training and support

As usual training to end users to use new interfaces is provided post migration. Post migrations support for a period sufficient to overcome challenges of new interfaces, integration and new platforms. This is followed by usual support of infrastructure and applications.
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