Circumvent IT Project Backlog for Efficient Operations

Consolidating and retiring applications can streamline IT infrastructure cost-effectively



Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from the IBM ebook, “Five steps to successful application consolidation and retirement,” IBM Software, June 2014.


Many organizations designate substantial portions of their IT budgets to merely “keeping the lights on.” According to IDC, most organizations today are consuming 60 to 80 percent of their IT budgets just to keep current systems running.1 That much spending on maintenance can slow the development of new initiatives such as cloud computing, social media, enterprise mobility, and big data and analytics—initiatives that could contribute substantially to an organization’s growth.

One way that organizations are trying to help simplify IT complexity and reduce costs is by streamlining their application infrastructure. This tactic may involve merging each major application, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), onto one consolidated system and retiring applications no longer used for day-to-day business operations.


Consolidating and decommissioning applications


IBM has developed a set of best practices for consolidating and retiring applications.2 that helps organizations maintain data quality and streamline their infrastructure when a new application is introduced. In addition, these best practices enable organizations to safely archive data from applications that are being consolidated or retired while still keeping that data accessible for historical and compliance purposes.


Organizations that follow these five essential steps can optimize their application infrastructure and give knowledge workers access to high-quality data when they need it:


1.   Discover and assess data.
2.   Categorize data for retention and disposal.
3.   Cleanse operational data and manage data quality.
4.   Transform data and deliver it to new applications.
5.   Manage and optimize test data.


Following these steps helps ensure optimal results for a consolidation or retirement initiative. Otherwise, several factors may reduce the benefits of these best practices; for example, projects may be delayed, staff and system costs may rise, untrusted data may unintentionally populate new applications, and compliance failures may occur.



Case Study

Cost-Effective Application Decommissioning


The IT staff at Dignity Health* wanted to support information governance, compliance, and electronic health records management, while helping reduce operational and application costs. Using IBM InfoSphere Optim software, the health system embarked on an enterprise-wide decommissioning program to retire costly applications and support test data management requirements.


Dignity Health achieved a return on investment (ROI) in the program’s first year. More than two years into the program, the organization has retired 24 of 120 targeted applications, recovered 2.4 TB of storage, decommissioned 390 servers, and realized $2 million in savings.


“Our decommissioning program, using InfoSphere Optim, is going to save our company millions of dollars and provide the business with standardized access to the data from hundreds of applications,” says Jon Massey, senior director for application optimization at Dignity Health.


*Dignity Health,” IBM case study, March 2014.



Offering comprehensive support for application lifecycle management

The IBM® InfoSphere® Information Integration and Governance (IIG) portfolio3 offers several use-case solutions for specific business requirements.4 Among them, IIG supports the five essential best practices for consolidating and retiring applications5 in the following ways:

  • IBM InfoSphere Optim™ Archive software6 provides broad database archiving capabilities so IT organizations can archive data intelligently and safely remove it from the application or system being consolidated or decommissioned.
  • InfoSphere Information Server integration platform7 helps organizations understand, cleanse, monitor, and transform their data, as well as establish and manage standards for data quality and provide properly formatted data for application consolidation and retirement.
  • InfoSphere Information Server Ready to Launch for SAP Applications software8 helps organizations effectively migrate legacy SAP data, consolidate multiple SAP instances, and roll out new SAP versions. This data migration technology helps accelerate deployment, reduce implementation risk, and improve efficiency for SAP environments.
  • InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management9 helps optimize and automate processes that create and manage data in nonproduction environments such as testing, development, and training.
  • InfoSphere Data Replication software10 enables migrations and upgrades to take place with minimal downtime, allowing organizations to upgrade systems and servers while testing new applications with real-time data.

For an example of how a healthcare organization implemented this portfolio to achieve governance, compliance, and records management cost-effectively, see the sidebar, “Case Study: Cost-Effective Application Decommissioning.”

Incorporating IBM software offerings into implementation of these five best practices enables organizations to safely retire applications, seamlessly integrate data across multiple application instances, and modernize infrastructure.

Has your company tackled an application consolidation or retirement project recently? What steps did you follow? Please share your experiences or questions in the comments.

1 IDC, “Application Provisioning: Application Portfolio Rationalization – Consolidation and Retirement Strategies,” Doc # 244530, November 2013.
25 Critical Steps to Application Consolidation and Retirement,” IBM Big Data and Analytics Hub infographic.
3 Information Integration and Governance (IIG) portfolio website, Overview.
application consolidation and retirement use case.
4 Use Cases: IIG solutions for business requirements, IBM IIG website.
5 Use Case: Application consolidation and retirement, IBM IIG website.
6 IBM InfoSphere Optim Archive,” IBM IIG website.
7 IBM InfoSphere Information Server, IBM IIG website.
8 IBM InfoSphere Information Server Ready to Launch for SAP Applications,” IBM IIG website.
9 IBM InfoSphere Optim Test Data Management,” IBM IIG website.
10 IBM InfoSphere Data Replication,” IBM IIG website.