Application management was once little more than standardizing on a version of, say, Adobe Professional, which you deployed every few years. But as applications seek to stay competitive in the face of security concerns and the availability of SaaS applications, the speed at which application updates are released have never been faster. And without proper control over what is installed where, that can cause application conflicts, wasted licensing costs, and potentially soaring support costs.
So how can you manage your applications and minimize your total cost of application ownership?
While most of you employ at least a basic form of automation to take the burden of implementation off your plate, it likely only assists with speeding up deployment. Logon scripts or group policies are the easiest to implement and most enterprise applications today support some level of automated custom installation.
But isn’t there more to lowering the cost of managing applications?
As you’ll see, there’s much more to managing applications (and the associated cost) than just pushing out a new version. The first step is to ensure you’re defining application management as a lifecycle. If you’re not, and are simply in the mode of deploying applications, then your costs are probably much higher than you realize.
THE ENTERPRISE APPLICATION LIFECYCLE
Each application has a life of its’ own within your enterprise from “cradle to grave,” with costs associated at each step. So to determine what your costs really are, it’s important to understand the lifecycle of an application in order to identify where your greatest costs are when aligned to industry and organizational influences.
Take Figure 1, as a simplified example of the application lifecycle for an enterprise, to represent the process IT must go through with each and every application.
The simplified lifecycle can be thought of in these five steps:
- Acquisition – Organizations need to assess the need for – and procure – applications to meet the business needs of the organization. These software assets must be managed throughout the application lifecycle to ensure your organization is always maintaining the right number of applications in the portfolio.
- Testing & Packaging – You plan on deploying out to potentially hundreds or thousands of machines, so that requires an ability to ensure a given application doesn’t conflict with other applications, versions of applications, and all operating systems it will be deployed to. Once tested, applications are packaged for consistency, a critical aspect of lowering an applications total cost of ownership and improving service quality.
- Deployment – With so many devices to support, IT must employ an automated method of delivery of the packaged application. Simple solutions like group policy can be used, but to ensure both delivery and completion of the install, more advanced solutions must be used.