How do companies battle application sprawl?

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Most companies require specific and deliberate strategies and approaches for dealing with application sprawl, a problem that occurs when the company’s application portfolio gets out of control. A company may acquire more applications than it legitimately needs to do business, and the application portfolio can become chaotic and disordered, with little transparency into how various applications work together in enterprise IT.

Many of the ways that companies fight back against application sprawl involve practical assessment of applications for value. Some experts refer to this as “rationalizing” applications, and make up detailed charts with value analysis tools. Others may call this application streamlining, and come up with additional methods for winnowing down an application portfolio to a manageable size.

In general, companies look to limit procurement, in order to keep an application portfolio manageable. This may involve dealing with mobile applications and the results of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon where so many interactions between employees and businesses result in more application acquisition, and sometimes in overlapping applications. It can be unpopular to pursue an application streamlining program, because of what people feel they need on the job, contrasted to what the company actually needs to do business.

Other strategies for reducing application sprawl involve particular platform and resource uses. Companies can use a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) tool that will help them split IT functionality into building blocks that they can better assess. Sometimes, moving to a cloud system can help companies to “clean up” legacy systems – either because the new model offers a more streamlined set of applications, or as a matter of course, because during the process of upgrading, companies look critically at the moving pieces of their IT architectures. Advances like hyperconvergence and network virtualization may also have a positive effect. Companies can create application inventories and monitor them while migrating data and upgrading systems to reflect a more modernized and efficient build.

These are some of the general ways that companies go about limiting application sprawl and making effective use of IT resources.

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Justin Stoltzfus
Justin Stoltzfus

Justin Stoltzfus is an independent blogger and business consultant assisting a range of businesses in developing media solutions for new campaigns and ongoing operations. He is a graduate of James Madison University.Stoltzfus spent several years as a staffer at the Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster, Penn., before the merger of the city’s two daily newspapers in 2007. He also reported for the twin weekly newspapers in the area, the Ephrata Review and the Lititz Record.More recently, he has cultivated connections with various companies as an independent consultant, writer and trainer, collecting bylines in print and Web publications, and establishing a reputation…