Kill Applications Cause the Most Pain for Organisations

Half of organisations stated that IT applications that cause the most pain for the least gain are 'kill category' applications such as old systems where the code is no longer maintained/supported according to a poll by 360IT - The IT Infrastructure Event, due to take place at London's Earls Court this coming September. 

A third of organisations said that 'contain category applications, the old stuff that's expensive to run and difficult to change/manage were causing them the most pain for the least gain, compared to only 4% that said that invest category applications that have a direct impact on business value were in this category. The remaining 12% said that 'Operate category' applications that dont improve business performance were causing them the most pain.

According to Steve O'Donnell managing director and senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), these kill applications are always a nightmare, they only represent a tiny handful of the estate (perhaps 1-5%) but are impossibly difficult to change. Often the guys who wrote and maintained the code are retired (or dead). There is only one thing to do with a 'kill' application - bin it. You know it'll cause pain and disruption, as well as costing a lot of money, but it has to be done.

The problem with IT is that everyone wants to make it uniform - fit it into a neat box, categorise it as 'all the same', make it autonomic, self-managing and move on. In fact, IT is anything but uniform, so these simplistic approaches fall at the first hurdle. Smart CIOs understand applications need to be treated differently depending on their value to the business. There are four key types invest, operate, contain and kill, O'Donnell continued.

'Invest' applications generally make up around 10-15% of the full estate. These are the applications the CEO knows about - the ones that when they get better, faster or more functional have a direct impact on business value.  Virtualisation is useful for invest applications but only if it improves agility, speed of deployment, adds functionality or reduces risk.

Although 'Operate' applications represent 40-80% of the estate. No matter how much better we make them, they dont improve business performance. Virtualisation works here as a method of taking out costs. So does outsourcing and software as a service (SaaS) delivery.
'Contain' applications are those we wish we didnt have - old stuff that's expensive to run and difficult to change or manage. We get the amount of these we deserve: under-invest and the category grows. They have one other characteristic: they are difficult to re-platform and change to 'operate' status. Although they're important to the organisation, they don't typically make the business run any better if we improve them.

Smart CIOs know this already and take a pragmatic approach to their applications, understanding instinctively where to spend money and where to bleed a previous investment. And really smart CIOs never reach the point where they need a kill category, O'Donnell said.

If you want to read more from Steve O'Donnell or comment on his 360IT blog post visit:

For more on 360IT the event that demonstrates how IT infrastructure solutions can help to achieve key business objectives such as improving service, reducing cost, managing risk and gaining competitive advantage and growth visit

About 360IT - The IT Infrastructure Event

360IT is the event dedicated to the IT community addressing the needs of IT professionals responsible for the management and development of a flexible, secure and dynamic IT infrastructure.

With high level strategic content, product demonstrations and technical workshops, 360IT will provide an essential road map of current and emerging technologies to deliver end to end solutions.

360IT will facilitate vendor and end user collaboration to create the IT infrastructure necessary to achieve key business objectives - improving service, reducing cost and managing risk whilst gaining competitive advantage and growth.

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