End User Computing: The What, Why and How of Application Rationalization

TJ VatsaTJ Vatsa is a Principal Architect and a member of CTO Ambassadors at VMware representing Professional Services organization. He has worked at VMware for the past 5+ years with over 20 years of experience in the IT industry. During this time he has focused on enterprise architecture and applied his extensive experience in professional services and R&D to Cloud Computing, VDI infrastructure, SOA architecture planning and implementation, functional/solution architecture, enterprise data services and technical project management.

TJ holds a four years Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree in Electronics and Communications from Delhi University, India and has attained industry and professional certifications in enterprise architecture and technology platforms. He has also been a speaker and a panelist at industry conferences such as VMworld, VMware’s PEX (Partner Exchange), Briforum and BEAworld. He is an avid blogger who likes to write on real-life application of technology that drives successful business outcomes.

 

Introduction

Over the last few years, End User Computing (EUC) and the associated workspace mobility space have emerged to be transformational enterprise initiatives. Today’s workforce expects anytime and anywhere access to their applications be it enterprise applications or user installed applications (UIA) and everything in between. These expectations create newer opportunities as well as newer challenges for the existing processes that are followed by enterprise and application architects. So what are the different facets of these challenges that the architects need to be aware of while analyzing and defining enterprise application strategy?  Let’s dive right in.

The What

Application rationalization is the process of strategizing available set of corporate applications along the key perspectives of business priority, packaging, delivery, security, management and consumption to achieve a defined business outcome. tjpic1The tangible artifact of an application rationalization process is a leaner collection of one or more application catalogs. An application catalog is a logical grouping of application taxonomies based on a user’s roles and responsibilities within an organization as well as within an enterprise. For instance, a user belonging to the finance department will have access to department specific catalog housing financial applications as well as access to a corporate catalog housing all corporate issued applications. While a user from the IT department will not need access to key financial applications used by a user from the finance department but will have access to IT specific application catalog that may include applications like infrastructure monitoring.

Application rationalization process is an enabler of application governance, management and operations leading to minimal applications sprawl within an enterprise.

The Why

Traditionally, managing legacy applications has been a time consuming and a complex process from the perspective of application packaging, provisioning and monitoring. Delivery of such applications has been equally complex, if not more. Add to that the constraints of application conflicts when it comes to supporting different devices and integration with other applications. For instance, the requirement of integrating with the authentication process of an Identity Management (IDM) platform that all mission critical applications need to support as part of the security directive coming from the Chief Information Security Officer’s (CISO) office.

So first things first, we need to ask ourselves some of these key questions-

  • What are these applications and what are the business priorities of these applications?
  • Do all these applications need to adhere to the security directives, regulatory compliance directives such as HIPAA, PCI, et cetera and how soon?
  • Have the non-adherence risks been assessed and what are the exceptions?
  • How do we package, provision, deliver, access, maintain, monitor and finally retire these application?

tjpic2

What this means is that it is very important to make the available application catalog(s) lean that may have become bulky over a given period of time due to inefficient Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) processes, mergers and acquisitions, emerging business priorities and other factors outside the control of enterprise, application and IT architects/leaders.

Furthermore, the application portfolio(s) reflected in these collective catalogs need to be agile to support the ever changing innovations in the areas of end user mobility/computing, hybrid cloud, and the emerging Internet of Things (IOT) aware applications.

How

A pragmatic approach to application rationalization relies on a strong foundation of people, process and technology platforms. It is recommended to start by identifying some of the key application classifications along the lines of as Mission Critical (MC), Business Critical (BC) and User Critical (UC) applications and map these classifications to your user segmentation along the lines of key roles and responsibilities within and across the organizations. An existing organizational level RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix may come in very handy as part of this process. The information in the table below reflects a sample of how this could be accomplished.

tjpic3

While, the people and the processes part may take multiple iterations but once these applications have been rationalized and the key stakeholders have been identified, we need to define an enterprise Application Management Architecture (AMA) to mature the End User Computing (EUC) initiatives within an enterprise.

tjpic4

What this means is that the AMA needs to address the following as illustrated in the schematic above:

  • Application packaging and isolation. For instance, whether the applications are natively installed in the base image or whether they are virtualized.
  • A unified application provisioning launch-pad for virtual, web, Citrix XenApps, RDSH and SaaS applications.
  • Real-time application delivery for just-in-time desktops that would abstract the desktop guest operating system (GOS) from the end user applications.
  • Unified authentication and application entitlement policy platform that supports Single Sign-on (SSO) and acts as a policy enforcement point (PEP) and a policy decision point (PDP).
  • Application maintenance capability that enables flexible patch management.
  • Application monitoring functionality that provides in-guest metrics for application performance monitoring.
  • Most importantly, supporting EUC mobility by interoperating with virtual, hybrid cloud and mobile platforms.

Conclusion

Now let’s tie it all together. VMware’s End User Computing (EUC) Application Management Solution portfolio includes VMware’s EUC product portfolio in combination with VMware’s experienced Professional Services Organization (PSO). It is your fast track approach to success for your Application Rationalization initiatives within your enterprise where not only the technology but the people as well as the processes are given high priority. For additional information please visit VMware.

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