Application overhaul #4: Move to the right platform for your business… not IT

04.04.2011

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In the second article in this series, we talked about the importance of securing senior level sponsorship to help drive through the application portfolio changes we need. This article drills down into one specific element of this. Too many times we have seen applications, or even languages, discarded for the wrong reasons, with applications often eliminated along with the platform. ‘Platform’ here can mean the physical hardware that your business applications run on, the operating environment, or the layers of middleware or deployment infrastructure that have been laid down to support ‘the business’. The thing is, it’s seldom been ‘the business’ that decides any of this stuff. 

However these days the business seems increasingly to be making platform decisions by default rather than through any centralized, corporate effort as user-centric development and technology sourcing increases. This is driven by technology savvy individuals bringing Apple technology into the workplace, for example, and demanding mobile access to just about everything.  Where possible, IT must support this.

In addition to demands from within the business the sun-downing of hardware environment by vendors adds to the pressure on IT to change the infrastructure to more modern, better-supported systems. This is, of course, completely understandable but can expose the business to the problems of discarding applications along with the old platforms – as we mentioned previously. The applications running on those platforms are suddenly seen as unwanted citizens holding up a much-needed renovation project.  The same applies to other hardware platforms, like mainframes, which are still supported by the vendor but are no longer seen as strategic by IT. Suddenly everyone is looking around for ways to replace the applications. Of course, it’s reasonable to evaluate replacements but the platform is one thing, the applications are the life-blood of the business processes. They are not one and the same and should not be viewed as such.

The real value comes from selecting the platform that best supports the needs of the business. This can involve migrating an application without changing it at all, so that it looks exactly the same on Monday as it did on Friday, when the mainframe was switched off and the new platform running the application went live. In this case, ‘business’ benefits from performance improvements and the advantages of new, more modern, platforms than rather than simply continuing with the existing platform and its associated costs and limitations. Modernizing platforms, importantly, gives much greater scope for the kind of on-demand availability and consumption-based pricing offered by the cloud…a platform direction that it’s anticipated all business applications will be heading if not now, then in the very near future.

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