Part of the problem of achieving high efficiency with DevOps is what to do with all those old applications. Some may not be in use at all, others are on maintenance and, while still used, are no longer sources of competitive advantage.
During the recent Peer Incite discussion of DevOps, Wolfgang Goerlich offered succinct advice, “Automate it, minimize it, or move it to a third party.”
This means biting a bullet that many IT organizations seem hesitant to touch. When he took over operations at the Midwestern financial firm where he has redesigned IT, one of the first things he did was to identify and shut down old applications that were no longer used. Some of these had been special requests from people who no longer worked at the company, while others had been rendered redundant by newer applications, and others supported business functions that themselves had been outmoded. But in IT no one had thought to shut them down, or people feared that if they did someone would complain, or someone's job was tied to that application.
Once those were eliminated, Goerlich started identifying applications that while still used were no longer centers of competitive advantage. Website development, for instance, was a hot area a decade ago but today is a commodity skill that is only a distraction to Goerlich's lean DevOps team.
Goerlich classifies these applications under “not my problem” and is actively outsourcing them. This is complicated by the special regulations financial companies operate under, but he has turned several applications over to traditional managed service outsourcers and a few to SaaS companies, and he hopes to move more to these third parties as the regulatory situation becomes clearer.
He has strong words for enterprises that use the excuse that their staff “lacks the skills to manage SaaS” to avoid moving older applications to the cloud. That, he says, is tantamount to saying that their staff training is inadequate to keep their organizations abreast of the technology in this fast-evolving IT environment, and that means that their IT organizations are becoming obsolete.
Action Item: IT shops commonly devote as much as 80% of their operating budgets to maintaining old applications rather than developing new ones or revolutionizing their environments with virtualization and cloud computing. Today IT has options that can free it from these boat anchors and let them retrain and rededicate staff to technologies that will make their companies more competitive rather than tying them to a dying past.