By Maureen Polte
IT organizations are increasingly under pressure from the business to improve service delivery performance and responsiveness to changing business requirements. Application delivery performance is no exception. Today, IT needs to evolve Application Readiness process maturity to ensure a continuous and predictable state of application delivery performance that is:
- Adaptive and scalable to changes in technology and business needs
- Predictable in terms of outputs and measures
- Technology agnostic
While Windows 7 migrations are winding down (Windows 7 deployments are estimated to be about 50% complete with the majority remaining underway) ahead of Microsoft’s April, 2014 Windows XP support deadline, application virtualization (including migrating from App-V 4.5 to App-V 5.0), SCCM 2007 to SCCM 2012 migrations, the consumerization of IT and bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives are keeping application packagers extremely busy. Gartner sees application virtualization reaching mainstream adoption in about 2 years and many senior IT managers say not virtualizing applications is the exception. Many have goals of virtualization upwards of 70% of their applications. While dealing with all of these technology initiatives, IT managers also seek to improve turnaround times and deliver better service level agreements (SLAs) to the business.
The consumer user experience is increasing the need for a faster, better experience with IT service requests. Today, CIOs naturally are asking why “I can just download an app from the app store and use it right away but it’s so complex at work?” And their users have come to expect fast, immediate results when they need an application to do their jobs since this is the norm in their personal lives.
Bring your own device (BYOD) conversations are happening now in most companies. BYOD, combined with the consumerization of IT trends are bringing mobile application management to a near term priority for most IT organizations. In fact, Microsoft is planning more frequent releases of Windows in support of these trends. In a recent article (you can read the article here) one IT manager said "Accelerating the pace of product releases across their ecosystem is probably giving a lot of IT people a queasy feeling, but our world is changing, so we better get used to it." Microsoft is now looking at annual OS updates instead of once every three years and Window 8 support will be ending in late 2015. Web applications will also be impacted since a new version of Internet Explorer will come with each new version of Windows. Based on these trends, Gartner is telling corporations that enterprise software upgrade policies and processes must be adjusted for this new reality.
In support of these trends, desktop transformation initiatives are the priority in many companies, shifting the focus on managing applications and data over devices. The goal is to implement flexible application delivery models to deliver the right app to the right device. This means that IT must focus on the app and ensure the app is ready for multiple delivery mechanisms.
All of these factors have led many IT organizations to make it a top priority to mature their Application Readiness process to support these business challenges. The priorities then are:
- Finish application migration projects and be prepared to take on new ones
- Support yearly releases from Microsoft
- Produce multiple application formats from the same application packaging process
- Test and prepare for multiple application delivery models
- Improve response time to the business
- Manage everything with a shrinking staff
But what does a best-in-class Application Readiness process look like? One measure is that your process is so good that when you get a new application package, you can account for it, deploy it successfully and if a new technology comes up or something happens you can adapt to that because you know what your process is capable of. You know you are there when you can adopt a new technology without any disruption to SLAs. The process you setup always produces an application package with the standards you expect.
Application Readiness teams need to evolve to become the steward of applications by proving their ability to accelerate application delivery and meet/exceed SLAs:
- Become agile enough to package applications in the best possible format to ensure reliable deployment and performance
- Anticipate and quickly take advantage of applications updates and new versions
- Add value in the new world of mobile and SaaS
- Scope and deliver on large migration projections while maintaining business as usual packaging operations
Most IT organizations have executed tried and true cost reduction initiatives (e.g. server/desktop virtualization, application rationalization) but have not considered the Application Readiness process itself as a potential cost savings opportunity. Application delivery issues and delays represent a “hidden source of costs” within an IT organization. Establishing an Application Readiness process with sound controls can continually identify savings opportunities. Areas of immaturity often cause higher spend and lower productivity. Having a well-defined operational model for Application Readiness allows an organization to articulate the impact of budget cuts as well as to quantify the reduction in services.
A mature Application Readiness process then is:
- Adaptive and scalable to change in technology and business needs without disruption to SLAs
- Predictable in terms of outputs and measurements with the ability to measure each phase of the process in a scientific way to understand how each phase is tracking to SLAs (how much availability, time to process, queue length, etc.), allowing the application packaging group to act as a “service”
- Technology and vendor agnostic, supporting desktop (physical & virtual), mobile, browser-based applications with a consistent process and single toolset
Maturing your Application Readiness process will help you achieve a continuous and predictable state of application delivery performance while enhancing the value that IT delivers the business.