'Application Bloat' is Major Enterprise Challenge: Survey

By Peter Bernstein October 16, 2012

There is likely “an app for that….”

It turns out, according to a new survey for Quest Software, Inc. (now part of Dell) by Harris Interactive, that for enterprise IT departments, this is not a good thing. In fact, the survey found that “application bloat” is costing businesses millions of dollars and the problem is only getting worse.

We all love our smartphones and tablets and want to be able to use them for professional (the BYOD phenomena) as well as for personal interactions. However, this is a case where no good deed goes unpunished. While there is recognition by CIOs that they need to support not just many of the new apps being created by the “consumerization of IT,” along with the growing list of apps deemed critical for driving business process optimization, improving the customer experience and generating new revenue opportunities, the survey revealed they have been slow to respond to “application bloat” – the accumulation of applications that consume resources and can cost their companies millions of dollars if left unchecked.

Bloat is a great description of what is going on. It means to “swell” and can relate to things like swollen egos – as well as that sometimes fatal  stomach condition that hits cows and dogs from overeating. It appears that without proper dietary controls, IT departments are going to have a costly belly ache.

Too many apps and not enough resources

The survey was conducted in June 2012 of 150 senior IT decision-makers from organizations with more than 500 applications and over $500 million in revenue, and uncovered significant application bloat.  It found that it is, “common for an organization to have thousands of unused or little-used apps, which translate to software overload and often poor application performance. Better application performance monitoring (APM) tools can help IT managers fully grasp how well all applications are performing, and negate the effects of application bloat.”

The numbers are illuminating. According to the survey:

  • Fifty-two percent of respondents estimate that slow, crashed or unresponsive applications cost their business hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
  • Tens of thousands of dollars: 31 percent
  •  Hundreds of thousands of dollars: 22 percent
  •  Millions of dollars: 22 percent
  •  Tens of millions of dollars or more: 7 percent
  •  In a typical day, a majority (57 percent) use less than 249 applications (half of total apps), while 28 percent said they use less than 50 apps, and of those accessed daily, 76 percent say they access less than half more than five times a day.
  • Respondents indicate that only 21 percent have deployed cloud-based applications, while 79 percent of apps are currently run on-premise.
  • Fifty-eight percent cited app performance as having a major impact on the performance of their business.
  • Seventy-seven percent would choose IT efficiency over reducing staff or outsourcing if told to reduce IT related operating costs.

“These findings point to the need for IT to get a grip on application bloat, and think twice about whether they need to add new apps. If not, they might cost the business more than they help it,” said John Newsom, vice president and general manager, Application Performance Monitoring, Quest Software. “Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solutions like Quest Foglight deliver a clear view into the environment, providing a solid handle on how an organization’s massive number of applications – both large and small – is performing. With all apps firmly in check, the loss of revenue caused by decreased productivity; lost transactions and sales; and missed opportunities will be significantly reduced.”

It is not surprising that application bloat is emerging as a challenge. This is nothing new. For those of us with telecom experience, it should be noted that there were over 3,000 apps developed Class 5 central offices way back when, and PBXs have literally hundreds of “features” that never get used. 

Doing triage is hard but necessary work. 

Newsom makes a good point as to the need to monitor what does get used and what does not. It enables IT to work with LOBs to decide what should be supported and what should not. Indeed, with the intense focus on the bottom line, this clearly is a case where “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”




Edited by Braden Becker
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