Click here to close now.

Welcome!

MICROSERVICES Authors: Elizabeth White, Michael Kanasoot, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, XebiaLabs Blog

Related Topics: MICROSERVICES, Java, .NET, Linux, Virtualization, Web 2.0

MICROSERVICES: Article

‘We Don’t Know’: IT’s Guilty Secret

The complexity of the enterprise application portfolio presents major challenges in responding to evolving business needs

Factors such as growing complexity, staff turnover rates, poor documentation, changes in responsibilities and business strategy have contributed to a lack of understanding and possession of appropriate skills in key corporate IT systems. The current gap in knowledge and know-how has put tremendous strain on today's IT department, which is expected to manage and execute all aspects of the business portfolio.

Possessing a deep understanding of each and every IT system can be a challenge, especially given that some of the countless enterprise software applications have undergone over 40 years of change and enhancement. However, admitting a lack of understanding and awareness will only further damage IT's already-precarious reputation. So develops IT's guilty secret - failing to tackle what it does not know.

Downstream impact on the IT department's ability to manage all aspects of delivery, cost, risk and operational efficiency is inevitable. How should IT leaders deal with this skeleton in the IT closet?

The Knowledge Gap
Unlike capital investments in physical assets, whose value changes over the years, the majority of software applications keep and increase their intrinsic business value and are rarely overhauled or replaced. Over time, these applications also continue to consume the majority of the IT budget.

The majority of IT organizations feel unable to deliver new requirements on time and often suffer from the high costs associated with doing so. Large portions of the budget taken up by mandatory "business as usual" tasks (routine maintenance, scheduled updates and deliveries, software and hardware updates, critical fixes, regulatory and legislative change projects) combine to form the growing phenomenon of IT debt as a result of the business demanding change faster than its underlying software assets can cope.

With IT in a constant fire-fighting mode, the less time-critical tasks such as routine documentation, internal training, knowledge transfer, or exploratory planning projects are shelved to allow for more pressing concerns.

There are a variety of options for dealing with these types of issues, including internal application overhaul projects and outsourcing to professional services organizations. Regardless of the chosen approach, the ability to appreciate and understand the existing applications and how they currently operate is the first step in determining how and what to change.

An Enterprise Application Challenge
Addressing a lack of knowledge needs to focus on the day-to-day manifestation of the problem:

  • Poor management control: IT staff having limited insight into the application portfolio and, as a result, cannot assign resources to work on what matters most to the business.
  • Slow turnaround on business needs: Applications become inflexible to be adapted quickly and without risk. Business users and IT staff struggle to translate requirements into applicaiton results.
  • Inefficient development processes: Global development teams spend up to as much as 80% of their budgets on maintenance activities, draining resources away from new, high-value projects.
  • Difficulty in selecting modernization projects: Businesses recognize the value of modernizing their application portfolios but need insight to prioritize and assign budget to these high-value activities.

Winning the Knowledge Battle
Most IT organizations face a reality of having no single group or individual that knows enough about the core systems to act as genuine subject matter experts on those parts of the IT estate. The age, complexity and inadequate investment over time has all but seen to that.

Power and control IT requires knowledge and insight: a centralized business and technical insight into core applications, enabling global IT teams to identify, prioritize and execute development activities that realign applications with current business requirements. The only viable way to win the battle is to use technology to regain the knowledge. Systems to collect detailed insight into an application portfolio, at a detailed technical level with supporting business and end-user information, can provide a centralized repository that can be securely accessed by users throughout the development team.

The information will need to include:

  • Rich technical insights: The analysis of source code across dozens of environments - from the mainframe to distributed applications - can provide detailed insights into the structure and function of even the largest and most complex systems.
  • Subject matter expertise: Users can discover and describe their applications in business terms so business users, analysts, managers, and architects focus their ‘business lens' on the logic, processes, architecture and issues that exist in the applications that automate businesses.
  • Additional insights: To further technical insights, users can collect additional related and business-level information about the app portfolio from third-party sources like HR, ERP, PPM, ALM and business service management technologies. The collected information provides powerful management intelligence about the cost, value, risk and priorities of an application portfolio.

The Benefits of Regaining Control
Seeing the ‘whole picture' provides improved business transparency so that applications can be reviewed, assessed and renewed to provide stronger support for the business's needs.

For architects, analysts and development professionals, increased visibility delivers a number of rewards. Centralized and detailed insight into the structure of applications means team members can quickly get up to speed and become more productive on even the most complex applications, boosting productivity by at least 20 percent.

As the analysis activity becomes more efficient, so will the development tasks. By sharing key analysis results through a common interface, such as Eclipse, to the developers' desktops, IT managers can help further improve the effectiveness of the change program.

More generally, detailed application insight enables technicians to discover, organize, and document core business processes buried within their applications much faster. This enables companies to find and - where necessary - reuse proven business rules in maintenance or larger change projects, such as SOA enablement, regulatory compliance, third -party software upgrades or major modernization projects.

IT - The Omniscient Innovator
The complexity of the enterprise application portfolio presents major challenges in responding to evolving business needs and represents a difficult secret reality for IT leaders. Application portfolio management and analysis tools are an effective first step in helping organizations understand their applications and prioritize their modernization efforts.

The ability to analyze and establish knowledge of critical systems across the entire IT estate is important in driving efficiency throughout an organization. It will help form a bridge between absent understanding of existing applications and how and what changes are necessary to modernize them. This will clear a path to innovation that is as smart as it is efficient, and should help IT to escape the knowledge gap that is all too often IT's guilty secret.

More Stories By Derek Britton

Derek Britton is an IT professional with over 20 years software industry experience. A computer science graduate from De Montfort University, Derek has held a variety of software engineering, technical consulting and product management positions in the IT industry, and is currently Director of Product Marketing at Micro Focus, the leaders in enterprise application modernization. Find Derek on Twitter at @derekbrittonuk.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Cloud computing is changing the way we look at IT costs, according to industry experts on a recent Cloud Luminary Fireside Chat panel discussion. Enterprise IT, traditionally viewed as a cost center, now plays a central role in the delivery of software-driven goods and services. Therefore, companies need to understand their cloud utilization and resulting costs in order to ensure profitability on their business offerings. Led by Bernard Golden, this fireside chat offers valuable insights on ho...
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organ...
SYS-CON Events announced today Sematext Group, Inc., a Brooklyn-based Performance Monitoring and Log Management solution provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting and anomaly detection (SPM), log management and analytics (Logsene), search analytics (S...
In the midst of the widespread popularity and adoption of cloud computing, it seems like everything is being offered “as a Service” these days: Infrastructure? Check. Platform? You bet. Software? Absolutely. Toaster? It’s only a matter of time. With service providers positioning vastly differing offerings under a generic “cloud” umbrella, it’s all too easy to get confused about what’s actually being offered. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hazard, Director of Digital Content for SoftL...
When it comes to microservices there are myths and uncertainty about the journey ahead. Deploying a “Hello World” app on Docker is a long way from making microservices work in real enterprises with large applications, complex environments and existing organizational structures. February 19, 2015 10:00am PT / 1:00pm ET → 45 Minutes Join our four experts: Special host Gene Kim, Gary Gruver, Randy Shoup and XebiaLabs’ Andrew Phillips as they explore the realities of microservices in today’s IT worl...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on T...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Site24x7, the cloud infrastructure monitoring service, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Site24x7 is a cloud infrastructure monitoring service that helps monitor the uptime and performance of websites, online applications, servers, mobile websites and custom APIs. The monitoring is done from 50+ locations across the world and from various wireless carr...
Even though it’s now Microservices Journal, long-time fans of SOA World Magazine can take comfort in the fact that the URL – soa.sys-con.com – remains unchanged. And that’s no mistake, as microservices are really nothing more than a new and improved take on the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) best practices we struggled to hammer out over the last decade. Skeptics, however, might say that this change is nothing more than an exercise in buzzword-hopping. SOA is passé, and now that people are ...
For those of us that have been practicing SOA for over a decade, it's surprising that there's so much interest in microservices. In fairness microservices don't look like the vendor play that was early SOA in the early noughties. But experienced SOA practitioners everywhere will be wondering if microservices is actually a good thing. You see microservices is basically an SOA pattern that inherits all the well-known SOA principles and adds characteristics that address the use of SOA for distribut...
Microservice architectures are the new hotness, even though they aren't really all that different (in principle) from the paradigm described by SOA (which is dead, or not dead, depending on whom you ask). One of the things this decompositional approach to application architecture does is encourage developers and operations (some might even say DevOps) to re-evaluate scaling strategies. In particular, the notion is forwarded that an application should be built to scale and then infrastructure sho...
Microservices are the result of decomposing applications. That may sound a lot like SOA, but SOA was based on an object-oriented (noun) premise; that is, services were built around an object - like a customer - with all the necessary operations (functions) that go along with it. SOA was also founded on a variety of standards (most of them coming out of OASIS) like SOAP, WSDL, XML and UDDI. Microservices have no standards (at least none deriving from a standards body or organization) and can be b...
Our guest on the podcast this week is Jason Bloomberg, President at Intellyx. When we build services we want them to be lightweight, stateless and scalable while doing one thing really well. In today's cloud world, we're revisiting what to takes to make a good service in the first place. Listen in to learn why following "the book" doesn't necessarily mean that you're solving key business problems.
Exelon Corporation employs technology and process improvements to optimize their IT operations, manage a merger and acquisition transition, and to bring outsourced IT operations back in-house. To learn more about how this leading energy provider in the US, with a family of companies having $23.5 billion in annual revenue, accomplishes these goals we're joined by Jason Thomas, Manager of Service, Asset and Release Management at Exelon. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal A...
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...
Microservices, for the uninitiated, are essentially the decomposition of applications into multiple services. This decomposition is often based on functional lines, with related functions being grouped together into a service. While this may sound a like SOA, it really isn't, especially given that SOA was an object-centered methodology that focused on creating services around "nouns" like customer and product. Microservices, while certainly capable of being noun-based, are just as likely to be v...
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Ras...
SYS-CON Events announced today the DevOps Foundation Certification Course, being held June ?, 2015, in conjunction with DevOps Summit and 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. This sixteen (16) hour course provides an introduction to DevOps – the cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, integration and automation in order to improve the flow of work between software developers and IT operations professionals. Improved workflows will res...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch ...
An explosive combination of technology trends will be where ‘microservices’ and the IoT Internet of Things intersect, a concept we can describe by comparing it with a previous theme, the ‘X Internet.' The idea of using small self-contained application components has been popular since XML Web services began and a distributed computing future of smart fridges and kettles was imagined long back in the early Internet years.
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microser...