APM Tools Redeem Legacy Apps, CIOs

De-coder: APM Tools Redeem Legacy Apps, CIOsIn an interview with ADT, Forrester Research analyst Phil Murphy examines how application portfolio management is squeezing more life out of legacy apps- and CIOs. According to a recent Forrester survey, APM tools build a centralized repository of app metrics, such as an app's size, and this repository helps these tools track the relationships between source code to create an inventory of applications.

Q: The APM tool market grew 280 percent last year, and Forrester expects this market to reach $500 million to $700 million in coming years. To what do you attribute this growth?

A: If you go back a decade and look at what's happened to IT, the majority of applications were mainframe based. Client/servers were introduced, and the rush to get off mainframe was because the client was better. There was a lack of investment for a number of years. By 2000, you either moved, or made the investment or made it compliant. There was no middle ground.

Then we had the Internet bubble and it burst. [Companies] built Web frontend applications only to realize they don't trigger shipping, financial and return applications [like] the mainframe. They needed to make yet another investment to have these systems talk to each other. Folks in 2004 [sat] back with very tight budgets and said: 'Wait a minute, we've left this platform for a decade. We don't know what we have and what we do, keep, modernize and so forth.'

There are a group of folks that are the small mainframe clients with below 700 MIPS that are still thinking of moving. Those folks are seeing some savings. But moving every application…is bad advice.

Q: Why are CIOs suddenly seeing value in APM tools?

A: Presiding over an IT shop during this period, even if you moved around, is a painful thing [for] CIOs. Three-quarters of their budgets are dedicated to keeping existing systems running. They don't have enough money to do their jobs, but they can't articulate where it goes, so businesses don't give them any more.

APM gives them those metrics and decreases costs and waste. Once they see what's wrong, they can…fix it. It's really about visibility.

Q: The survey mentioned APM tools vendors Allen Systems, Blue- Phoenix and CAST. Why these companies, and what do they know that other companies don't?

A: APM was born out of application mining tools [and these] vendors, who are application mining vendors for the most part. The mining tools were aimed at programmers, and [companies] would say, 'Here's a tool to fix that program and let's make programmers more productive.' The tools were a non-starter for programming productivity across the board; they don't look at a tool that helps one application at a time. It's a nascent marketplace, but the tools are a decade old. They're just being repurposed.

Q: How do APM tools help IT- and CIOs-with existing apps?

A: CIOs are in trouble. Their relationship with IT and business in many shops isn't very good. APM changes these relationships fundamentally. Before the picture looked like this: The business is impatient and unsatisfied with IT; it never does enough new stuff for the business. In the after picture: The IT manager sees what's happening and takes corrective action. [The ITmanager] aligns the actions and cost with the business unit manager, and discussions happen. They can say: 'You get 20 percent of the budget; here are your big-cost applications; and this is where most of your revenue is coming from.' IT can take the discussion into resource and time, rather than MIPS and bits.

The other thing that APM happens to do is this phenomenon that I describe as 'the lights go on and the roaches scatter.' When you can't see what's going on in IT, you don't see where the money and effort goes. That's not right for the business, and it tends to be political pull and who makes the most noise. There could be two business unit owners who take up the bulk of applications and effort. Or they are pet projects of the powerful people, and it's a complete misapplication of money.

There's an idea [a department] gets a disproportionate share of the IT budget, and when everyone knows that…there's nothing like your peers coming down on you.

Q: What do you see in the future for APM tools? How do you think they'll evolve?

A: APM is like a crystal ball…it's a dashboard into what's happening with an existing application. Another dashboard looks at new projects, but leaves out a big chunk-where they live and ride, so that's for another dashboard. Each one has its own purpose and is doing good things. The fourth dashboard sits on all three and brings these dashboards together. Think about this: one dashboard drills into the other three, and it really balances how the money is used and spent across IT.

About the Author

Kathleen Ohlson is senior editor at Application Development Trends magazine.