That jibes with the findings of IT management consulting firm Capgemini, which in 2011 surveyed more than 100 CIOs globally, 85% of whom said their application portfolio needed to be rationalized (60% said they currently supported "far more" applications than they needed).
"What we found confirms our initial hypothesis: today's IT organizations are carrying a heavy burden of applications that are often not delivering full value to the business," Capgemini wrote in its Application Landscape Report, 2011 Edition. "Most companies have far more applications than the business needs and are forced to spend valuable IT resources on supporting obsolete systems from the past instead of focusing their assets on future growth."
Application Sprawl Costs Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars or More
Application sprawl isn't purely academic. Newsom says slow, crashed or unresponsive apps cost enterprises bundles of cash. More than half of respondents reported that it costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year (22% reported the costs in the millions of dollars and 7% said it cost them tens of millions of dollars or more).
"They have to get a grip on what the heck's out there and consuming resources," Newsom says. "There's definitely a management challenge there."
Doing so in a meaningful way requires visibility into your applications--who's using them, how they're being used and what resources they consume. Newsom points to one automobile manufacturer which spent years developing a new lending application for its dealers. But the day the app went into live production, it slowly ground to a halt (though it didn't crash). The app was unusable and the IT team couldn't figure out why.
"They spent months trying to figure it out," Newsom says, noting that the manufacturer brought in consultants and platform vendors to help and deployed numerous upgrades and patches.
After five months, the manufacturer turned to an application performance management (APM) solution, which identified the problem within two hours: Users were exiting the application in a way the developers hadn't anticipated, causing a severe memory leak.
Strategies for Rationalizing Your Application Portfolio
Combating application sprawl requires a strategy that allows you to maintain a healthy, continuously rationalized application portfolio. Capgemini recommends seven steps you can take: