Cut the “Muda” in Your Application Portfolio:
Application Retirement, Enterprise Applications No Comments »
Achieving Leaner Data Center through Application Retirement
While Toyota is a much maligned name today, it taught the world Lean Manufacturing drawing on the concept of eliminating waste (“muda” in Japanese). That spawned an entire discipline of “Lean” in Operations, epitomized by Lean Six Sigma. Now Green IT pundits are espousing a Leaner Data Center through Application Retirement. There is indeed a significant muda in a Data Center: estimates have shown anywhere between 70 – 80% of available resources (time, people, equipment, and software) are in a near idle state for over 50% of the time. Much of the lean in a Data Center had, till now, focused on Virtualization and Consolidation. Now a new branch is evolving – and it is evolving rapidly – Rationalization, a major subset of which is Application Retirement.
Come to think of it – this mirrors the stages of lean manufacturing. The first stage was Just in Time – optimizing physical inventory across the supply chain. This is akin to Virtualization that optimizes servers and storage across multiple applications they are hosting to eliminate the muda capacity at any point of time. The second stage was Reducing Set-Ups – enabling smoother set-ups and more flexible operations. This may be compared with Consolidation of servers, storage and Data Centers that reduces muda (in terms of time, people productivity and resources) when, say, a new upgrade happens in the ERP version. The US Federal Government, for example, is embarking on the most ambitious Consolidation project ever undertaken. The other – and perhaps most important element of Lean Manufacturing was Cellular Manufacturing that rationalized manufacturing processes to reduce the number of SKUs even while increasing the number of car models. Rationalization in a Data Center aims to reduce the muda of servers, storage, applications and unnecessary processes – and maybe undertaken independent of consolidation – while at the same time the CIO is delivering more value-oriented systems to the businesses.
There are many sub-disciplines within Data Center Rationalization. The one that has caught the most attention is Application Retirement. As the name suggests, it is to cut the muda out of the no-longer-required applications but retain and manage historical data and provide access to it when (and if) required for audit, compliance or litigation support reasons. It is a category within Application Portfolio Management (APM) and is going by different names: Application Decommissioning, Application Sunsetting and Application Optimization. Mirroring them in APM – to deliver the CIO’s mantra of “more” – are Application Modernization, Application Renewal and Legacy Modernization.
The history of lean manufacturing has shown that fullest extent of process improvements comes only after implementing Cellular Manufacturing and not just JIT. The history of lean Data Centers actually started with Consolidation. The movement to Global Single Instances began over a decade ago. The last five years has seen the rapid adoption of Virtualization. We expect to see Application Retirement taking centre stage over the next decade. And believe me, there’s a lot of muda out there in the application portfolio of any enterprise – sometimes running to thousands!