Business Critical Applications – Do You Have A Plan?

BlueprintsIn my last blog entry I pointed out that market research that I recently conducted indicated that in the majority of instances (62%) in which the performance of a business critical application is performing poorly, the company loses money.  That metric on its own tells quite a story about the business value of ensuring acceptable performance.  However, it is only part of the story and I am going to use this blog to tell more of that story.

In my e-book entitled The 2012 Application and Service Delivery Handbook, I describe the results of a survey that I administered to a couple of hundred IT professionals.  In one of the survey questions, the survey respondents were asked, “How many applications does your company consider to be business critical?”  As recently as a few years ago, most companies had only a handful of business critical applications.  The responses of the survey respondents, which are summarized in the following table, indicate a dramatic increase has occurred in the number of business critical applications that IT organizations need to support.

Number of Business Critical Applications
All Companies
Large Companies
1- 5
6 – 10
11 – 20
21 – 100
> 100

The middle column of the table above shows the responses of all of the survey respondents while the right hand column shows the responses of just the survey respondents who work in a large company, and by that I mean a company that has 10,000 or more employees.  One observation that can be drawn from the table is that currently over a quarter of all companies have more than 20 business critical applications.  Another observation that can be drawn from the table is that currently over a third of large companies have more than 100 business critical applications.

So at this point, the story is that companies have a large number of business critical applications and if one or more of them are performing badly, the company loses revenue.  There is, however, still more to this story.  At the same time that the number of business critical applications has increased, the scope of most business applications has been expanded.  For example, in the not too distant past the scope of most enterprise application was intra-company; i.e., all users of the application were employees of the company.  Over the last several years the use of enterprise applications has steadily shifted, and now virtually all organizations use their applications and networks to interact with myriad people outside of the company including suppliers, business partners, and customers.  In addition, over the last two or three years companies of all sizes have made an increasing use of services provided by cloud service providers such as Rackspace and

So, a more complete telling of the story is that the typical company has a large and growing number of business critical applications, and if one or more of them perform badly the company loses revenue.  Ensuring acceptable application performance is therefore critical to the success of the company and the reputation of the IT organization.  Unfortunately, ensuring acceptable application performance has become more difficult as companies have extended their key applications out to third parties and, in a growing number of instances, obtain their applications from a third party.

The bottom line is that it is extremely difficult for an IT organization to be successful in this challenging environment without a plan for how it will broadly deploy the performance and management technologies that will enable the organization to ensure acceptable application performance.

Image credit: Thristian (flickr) – CC-BY-SA