As discussed in our prior post in this series, any lean IT organization should strive to eliminate waste in order to improve agility. One way to do this is to identify redundant platforms that may no longer fit into your business’ long-term strategy.
Parallel Infrastructure is the Enemy
If it is at all possible to complete a certain class of task on a single platform, all efforts should be made to do so. Many organizations rely on a few “legacy” systems – systems they use simply because they’ve always used them. They may have presented a unique differentiation at the time they were implemented, but have since been outmoded or overtaken by more modern solutions.
Staying on these systems may appear a convenient alternative to planning a migration or consolidation effort, but you should first consider the true costs that these solutions tend to bring along with them.
Example: Legacy ECM Systems
One area where this is very true is the enterprise content management market. Legacy ECM systems are the past: with proprietary design, archaic architectures, and a lack of cloud or hybrid support, they tend of suffer from slow and expensive roll-outs as well as low adoption/success rates.
In addition, the ongoing investments in licensing, maintenance, services, and training mean that the costs will keep on mounting.
When they first entered the market, ECMs were the cutting edge in information management. Bringing information from line-of-business systems such as SAP into a centralized location, informations were able to act on their information like never before. They made it easier to categorize and control digital content, and that control was worth the premium. The question your organization should ask itself, though, is: “is that still the case?”
Cost per GB and Scalability
If you’re part of any modern organization, it is more than likely that the volume of information you manage is ballooning. That fact alone raises architectural concerns considering the ECM systems many businesses use were designed to manage far less content than the typical enterprise today generates. The cost per gigabyte for storage on these platforms is barely less than in-memory storage achieved in SAP S4\HANA, providing little ongoing utility in minimizing cost.
Enter the cloud. Large technology providers like Microsoft and Amazon have been able to offer a kind of scalability that can enable the large-scale management of content. Every year they make further strides in providing more information governance capabilities for IT organizations. Compared to legacy ECMs, SharePoint/Office 365 storage comes for pennies on the dollar.
Extensibility is the Most Important Measure
Where these cloud-based solutions truly outshine the competition, however, is in their openness. The Microsoft ecosystem in particular is incredibly extensible, offering a full marketplace of software add-ons that enhance their own software with advanced features (such as DoD Standard 5015.2-compliant records management, or offering an SAP-certified HTTP Content Server in Office 365).
This plug-and-play mindset meshes perfectly with what lean IT shops should be building towards: a unified platform for service delivery with as few unnecessary overlaps as possible. If a tool doesn’t work, replace it. If a tool isn’t useful, don’t let it take up space that could be devoted to something you actually need.
A bloated technology stack makes it difficult to define feature requirements and to add new systems as the needs present themselves. By minimizing redundancy, it will be easier to integrate ongoing and new needs into your list of priorities.
Next week, we’ll focus on how IT organizations can redeploy funds saved by rationalizing infrastructure to further enable improvement.