Imagine that you’re a production line manager in a manufacturing company and you’re under pressure to deliver an increasing number of products that are rapidly growing in complexity. You also have to deliver an increasing number of versions of each product. And you have to speed up the production line substantially. If you can’t meet these requirements, your company’s customers will find what they need elsewhere.
This is exactly the situation in which IT finds itself today. Line of business owners in the enterprise are demanding more applications of greater complexity for a greater number of operating environments and devices, and they want them delivered quickly. If you can’t give them what they want, they may go around IT and acquire the applications on their own, a phenomenon known as “shadow IT.” That not only drives up acquisition and support costs but also jeopardizes security and compliance.
Adding to the challenge is the increasing strategic use of mobile apps in the enterprise. Thought leadership articles warn about security risks that result from mobile applications leaking data outside the enterprise such as through the use of cameras, copy-paste operations or connections to cloud services. Yet IT organizations have little or no institutional knowledge of how mobile apps behave when deployed and used, or how to shape that behavior to support enterprise standards. And there are few tools or techniques available to assess the mobile applications in use.
To address the challenge, IT must achieve and maintain a high level of agility and be prepared for continual change. The goal is to position IT to provide business owners with all the applications they need, when they need them, on the operating systems and devices they choose — while still retaining control.
To meet this goal, you must maintain a portfolio of applications ready for immediate deployment to a wide variety of operating systems and devices, and keep the applications current with the latest updates and patch levels. You also have to migrate applications to new operating systems and devices, to new versions of existing platforms, and to virtualized environments. In addition, you have to continually add new applications to the portfolio. At the same time, you need to drive down costs by maximizing efficiency such as by automating processes and enabling end users to serve themselves in requesting applications.
Considering the complexity of today’s applications, the number of operating environments and devices, and the rapid release of new versions of applications and environments, maintaining continual application readiness is a tall order.
This paper presents the six-step Application Readiness process and describes a four-level maturity model that you can use to assess your organization’s maturity in that process. It also describes how Flexera Software can help you get to higher levels of maturity so you’ll be better prepared for change.
Defining the Application Readiness Process
Leveraging its extensive experience in helping tens of thousands of customers, Flexera Software has developed a field-proven, six-step process for maintaining continuous Application Readiness.
This process, illustrated in Figure 1, provides a standardized method for getting enterprise applications tested, packaged and deployed into the enterprise environment. The process consists of six steps:
- Identify. Provide a mechanism for line of business and application owners to request new applications to be added to the portfolio and made available for immediate deployment to all required operating platforms and devices. The mechanism must capture sufficient information that not only uniquely identifies the requested application but also enables its proper packaging and deployment. This step requires a centralized application repository that contains an accurate inventory of all applications available for deployment including physical, virtual and mobile.
- Rationalize. Determine the validity of the request. Is the request approved? Is the requested application in the authorized portfolio, and if not, is an alternative available? Is the application licensed? The rationalize step utilizes the information in the centralized application repository described in the Identify step and eliminates any duplicate entries. Mobile applications can also be reviewed, both internal and public store apps, to gain knowledge of the features and behaviors that may leave the enterprise open to risk.
- Assess Compatibility. Determine the compatibility of the requested applications with the target operating platforms and devices to ensure error free deployment to end-user devices. Identify any incompatibilities. Automate testing wherever possible. Include mobile applications and verify that they function properly on the target mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, and on mobile operating systems.
- Plan. Determine what needs to be done to prepare the application for deployment. What must be done to fix any incompatibilities discovered? What packaging formats are required? What resources are needed? What mobile application management policies should be established?
- Fix and Package. Fix any discovered incompatibilities and package the application in the required formats for deployment. Validate that applications follow best practices and conform to enterprise policies.
- Deploy. Pass the application to the appropriate enterprise deployment system. This includes Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, Symantec Client Management Suite powered by Altiris and AirWatch Mobile Device Management, to deploy mobile apps. At the same time, publish the application to the enterprise app store (Flexera Software’s App Portal) for immediate access by the user community.
By implementing this process, IT is poised to meet the application demands of the business in a timely and reliable manner while keeping costs in check and minimizing risk. Learn more in the white paper: Six Steps to Application Readiness
A Four-level Model of Process Maturity
The ultimate goal of Application Readiness is to establish an automated, end-to-end process for managing applications over their entire lifecycles, from acquisition to retirement. That requires standardization of process steps, seamless integration within and across steps, and a high degree of automation. It also requires integration with other related business processes such as software license compliance and application deployment processes.