Software Overload: Containing The Cloudy Chaos
There is little argument about whether business applications are useful in cutting costs and boosting profits. Even small businesses are at a serious disadvantage if they don’t make use of any. Most small businesses start out with simple accounting software and an office suite. As a business grows, it begins to incorporate more and more applications to suit the needs of a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) such as customer relationships managing, human resources, and shopping cart software, etc. On top of those, large businesses employ applications designed for business process management, enterprise resource management, and product lifecycle management.
Unfortunately, the more applications used in a business’ network environment, the greater the potential for problems as new software often doesn’t integrate well with other software. Issues that have plagued software development companies and led to faulty software in the past still affect much of the software being produced. However, these companies also realize that better integration is increasingly marketable which will hopefully improve their approach. In the meantime, the issue weighs upon IT departments.
According to Forrester, application performance is a critical element of workforce productivity and “the complexity of [multitier] business services has grown unmanageable. Enterprises clearly want to rationalize their business services and make them more manageable. However, this can’t be accomplished without tools to abstract the current complexity of applications.” This means that at some point in its growth, a business is going to need to have a good strategy for managing its applications.
Whatever your approach may be, there are key factors to consider:
- Does your system identify problems before they become serious detriments to your flow of business? One of the key factors of a successful business is the quickness with which it adapts to a changing environment. This holds especially true with application management. When things begin to go wrong, you want to fix the problem before it becomes a catastrophe.
- Does your system learn from past mistakes? There may be a quick way to resolve a problem because it is one that has occurred and been addressed before. It is important that records are kept.
- Is your system able to identify the source of the problem? This ability is critical because much time can be wasted sifting through the components of a complex system.
- Is your system able to analyze the source of the problem? In other words, your system must be able to understand what the cause of the problem is and be able to come up with a viable solution.
The answers to these questions are probably not black and white, but it is important to understand that the level of affirmation to them directly correlates to the success of your business.
Fortunately, these days there is software available to manage your software. Application performance management software is readily available in today’s market and it isn’t difficult to see why. Applications have been improving the efficiency and flow of business in all departments. There is no legitimate reason applications wouldn’t be used to do the same for IT.
The demand for applications that help businesses run more efficiently has grown significantly in recent years, partly due to ease of access, which also creates a need to manage them more closely. Though some businesses may remain reluctant to move into the cloud, most have already integrated into it even if they haven’t put all their eggs in that basket. Software as a Service (SaaS) is proliferating quickly enough that even CIO’s find themselves surprised by how many of these applications their company is using.
Some speculate that the role of IT is diminishing as processes become more automated and business networks continue to shift into the cloud either by choice or consumerization of IT. However, the truth is simply that the role of IT is changing, so adaptation to change is as vital to IT as it is to the businesses being supported. A more optimistic view indicates that better management software frees IT personnel to focus on more fundamental matters rather than having to run around putting out fires. Some also speculate that IT may shift into a role that involves less control over what the business does in terms of its computer technology and more cooperation with business leaders to enable them with the applications that suit the business best. This means that knowledge of software, integration of improving software, and managing a complex application-saturated network environment become the best and most marketable skills for IT personnel.
If your business is growing, chances are good that it will experience growing pains. In terms of software, it is increasingly wise to prepare for the influx of applications in your network environment than to let it develop and then figure out how you can make it all fit together smoothly. While IT manpower will always be a fundamental aspect of the computer environment of business, the tools they use are just as important.
By Arthur Nichols
Arthur Nichols is a Systems Analyst with a passion for writing. His interest in computers began when Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in a regulation chess tournament. When Arthur isn’t drawing up diagrams and flow charts, he writes for BMC, leading supplier of application performance management software.