Which Applications Should I Transform?

The IT world is awash in headlines about transforming IT, Cloud, IT-as-a-Service, adopting Hybrid Cloud, increasing agility, and modernizing applications, to list a few. IDC just published new research that underlines the importance of an application-oriented approach to transformation:  this research shows that IT organizations which are furthest in their cloud transformation have focused their efforts on application workloads. But with these benefits come challenges:  in a world of limited IT budgets, , how do you decide which applications you are going to transform, migrate or modernize?

Technological advances are cool and exciting but if IT doesn’t understand why and what it wants to transform, IT won’t realize the full benefits. Ultimately, the purpose of IT is to provide information that the business uses to create value and this means an application is involved. That’s the topic of this blog. How can IT align its spending priorities with the business when it has 100s to 1000s of applications to support?

For some perspective, here is Elliot Young, head of EMC Global Services’ Transformation Group, EMEA discussing his approach to transformation with his customers.  He advocates scoring your applications by business criteria as determined by the business.

Regardless of what you are planning and before you act it behooves you to answer some fundamental questions about your application portfolio and be certain the IT investments in the portfolio are aligned with the priorities of the business. Understanding your portfolio can help you gain control and not feel so overwhelmed and overcome with inertia.

Our first step, when working with a customer, is to identify 9 key business criteria as determined by the business. These 9 key business criteria are the things that actually drive the core essence of that particular business. By working out how each application impacts each of those 9 criteria we calculate a score and very quickly assess a large number of applications. Our customers include large financial institutions and global pharmaceutical companies, both of which often have thousands of applications.

EMC’s approach to application classification is unique compared to other professional services organizations. First, we have our own methodology that has been developed specifically for this purpose and second, because it’s underpinned by our application-focused Adaptivity platform, which enables us to very quickly and accurately score each business application. The scoring is undertaken by the business stakeholders themselves using their own criteria. This step is really important – make sure that you get buy in for any kind of future transformation. The Application Classification Advisory Service provides our customers the information and confidence to justify investments in transformation, migration or modernization.

In this clip, Elliott Young describes the situation at one of his customers, in this case a postal service. The results of the Application Classification Advisory Service were a bit of a surprise. Here is Elliott again:

Another customer example is about a large municipal police force with a common problem: limited budget. IT had limited budget for investment and it was critical to make sure that any investment decisions not have an impact on the police force’s core mission. The core mission could be summed up by 9 key criteria. Here are some examples:

  • There should be no harm to members of the public or the police
  • They must be able to detect and disrupt crime and major disorder
  • They must be able to arrest criminals
  • They must be able to respond to major incidents

So by taking the core, critical business drivers we could then, very quickly, assess each application to see how it has an impact against those kinds of drivers. What we found was that there needed to be a special approach taken to core systems that address issues like counterterrorism, rapid response, or the criminal intelligence systems, and with that knowledge, we could then work with the customer to determine the best cases for investment and what the transformation approach should be.

Want to know more?  Check out the overview for EMC Application Classification Advisory Service.

About the Author: David Buffo

David is a Consulting Marketing Manager for Dell Technologies Services, based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. He has 25 years’ experience in the IT industry, including 15 years in solutions and services. David’s focus is IT infrastructure, but his work with clients is concerned with accelerating transformation of IT from a technology supplier into a provider of services to the business. He started with EMC (now Dell Technologies) in 2004 and meets regularly with clients at Dell Technologies' executive briefing center and at industry conferences.