“I need to cut our application costs by half, and I need to do it within a year.”
The thing is, he was dead serious.
That’s a hell of a challenge, and it’s one I’ve spent a lot of thought on recently. How exactly do you unravel the gordian knot of enterprise applications, licensing, cloud usage, and vendor lock-in to begin getting a handle on the spend?
Like most elephants, you eat this one a bite at a time. Here are some suggestions to get started:
- Take score. First, and this holds true for just about any big challenge you have to face, you have to know where you currently stand. How many applications does your organization use? What are they, and what function do they serve? What are your licensing costs for them? What are your top money apps?
- Eliminate duplication. In almost every large organization there will be more than one application doing the same job. Find them, choose one, and kill the other one.
- Get a cloud assessment. With the proliferation of shadow IT, odds are good there are units using cloud services that you’re not aware of. RISC Networks now has an assessment that will track network traffic for a week and tell you what cloud services are in use, and what kind they are. There are multiple reasons for wanting to know this, but in the context of this article the reason is to eliminate applications whose functions are being served by the cloud.
- Look for alternatives to the big names. Just because you have an Oracle transaction database doesn’t mean you need an Oracle BI application. Just because you have Microsoft SQL Server doesn’t mean you need Microsoft ERP. Sometimes alternatives are not only cheaper, they’re better.
- Leverage BYOD. Allowing employees to access the network with their own devices can result in a tremendous savings on application costs. For every person who decides to use her own laptop, that’s one less OS license. Believe it or not, there are people who could do their entire job from a tablet. Why give them a laptop, and all the licensing fees associated with it?
- Get deeper. Sometimes we buy an application for a certain function without realizing that another app we already own can serve that same function. Don’t settle for surface-level knowledge of your software; dig into it and maximize its value.
If anyone else has tackled this, I’d love to hear from you. How did you go about it? What was effective, and what was not?