A well-oiled machine travels further

Portfolio wellbeing avoids costly mistakes
December 14, 2023 by
A well-oiled machine travels further
Digital Alfa Nordic AB, Jay Melia
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The investments that companies make in our software portfolios are often very significant in terms of both time and cost. It therefore follows that we should sweat the assets and get every drop of value out of the investments. As an industry we are pretty good at it, perhaps excessively so. We have developed a tendency to treat software like a washing machine. We spend once then use it daily, until it finally breaks and unexpectedly floods the laundry room. 

When we run the software portfolio in washing-machine mode, then when it fails, we must replace it all, including most of what it touches. More often than not we can’t repair it, because the developers have moved on. Additionally, libraries, open-source components and even languages have become obsolete, and there’s little or no documentation. It might even be worse than that. Data is damaged, spilled or even lost. 

Maybe we should look at application portfolios more like a car. We wouldn’t feel comfortable driving a car that is not serviced and has red lights flashing all over the instrument cluster. So, we pay a mechanic to service the car and conduct diagnostics that tell us what needs doing now and what is likely to need doing soon. If our car is well serviced, safe, reliable, and economical then we may keep it for many years. Over that time a sizeable number of parts and components will have been changed out and upgraded, possibly more than once, but the same car will continue to serve us until we decide we want to change it.

So how do we do that with our software estate? How do we get to a healthy, supportable, and maintainable application portfolio? If a solution is well defined and all components are included in an active Software Asset Management solution, then planned end of life and obsolescence for all components can be tracked and forecast. But what if we inherit a portfolio that isn’t in a SAM tool? And what if there’s a change in the law, or a major security requirement, a bankruptcy, a key component is made obsolete as a result of acquisition, or the licensing model changes? How do we plan for that?

Back to the appliance theme; now and again we move house. Do we replace the washing machine at the new location or do we take the one we have with us. Will the old one even survive the journey? The real estate agent just wants you to buy the house, the removals guys just want to box up and drop it all off at the new location, and you are the one who is left with the risk. This is how it can be with cloud transformations; the vendor wants your subscription, the transition team just wants to get you moved, and if it doesn't work it is your business that is impacted hardest. How do we make sure we know before we go? How do we identify what will work, what needs adjusting and what won't survive the cloud journey?

The answer for both these scenarios is AI driven Software Intelligence. Just like the car diagnostics, Software Intelligence looks at what we have in our application portfolio and then analyses it in detail using an AI engine to work out supportability, obsolescence, dependencies, vulnerabilities, and possible licensing issues. It can even identify the impact of security flaws and changes to privacy laws. This all helps us work out what priority to apply to which problem, what needs to be replaced and what we don’t need at all.

At Digital Alfa we have chosen Cast Highlight to help our customers better understand their application portfolios, keep them healthy, and fit for the challenges that our fast changing digital world brings.

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