Cloud Smart: A Sustainable, Efficient IT Strategy

Earlier this year, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued the 2019 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, updating an eight-year-old “Cloud-first” strategy with one that Federal CIO Suzette Kent describes as “Cloud Smart.”

Since the original strategy was published, public and private sector organizations have run headlong to the cloud as a way of increasing scalability and efficiency – or so they thought. What many have since realized is that without proper governance and due diligence, even cloud computing can lead to excessive spend and budget bloat. A recent Apptio survey found that 73 percent of IT leads consider cloud sprawl an ongoing issue.

Perhaps in response to this trend, the Federal CIO Council released “The Application Rationalization Playbook,” an addendum to the Cloud Smart Strategy that outlines how to decide which apps to keep, where they should live and the order of migration. The Federal CIO Council’s six steps for application rationalization are:

  1. Identify needs and set governance for the application rationalization (app rat) effort.
  2. Inventory applications that are in-scope for the effort and validate against existing application inventory and applications of record.
  3. Assess business value and technical fit of all applications in the application inventory.
  4. Assess TCO in collaboration with the program offices for all applications in the application inventory.
  5. Score applications based on the business value, technical fit, and TCO information.
  6. Determine application placement based on the application scores and other pertinent information gathered throughout this process, including input from stakeholders.

Cloud smart requires ongoing app rat

Most app rat initiatives are triggered by business transformation – the need to do something different in the face of the changing business, and IT operating model, landscape. The end-goal of a lean, responsive application portfolio is only achieved with a systematic approach to app rat.

A one-off cull of applications is the traditional outcome from an app rat initiative, but application portfolios are the Japanese knotweed of IT: when you aren’t vigilant, they quickly grow back. An application portfolio management (APM) process must be ongoing and scalable. When the process is too hard, app rat efforts lose momentum and (invasive) applications re-appear.

Manual updates aren’t scalable

Bringing in an outside consultant to “execute” app rat is the path most taken for a very good reason – organizations don’t have enough people to spreadsheet-ninja it themselves. In practice, consultants brought in to “do”  app rat generally mirror in-house efforts. They simply have the experience of having done it many times before.

Do not confuse repetition with a codified best-practice. A manually updated spreadsheet is still a manually updated spreadsheet regardless of whether it’s an FTE or an outside consultant doing it.

Lead with defensible app TCO

App rat initiatives are built from defensible application total cost of ownership (TCO) calculations. There are questions around capabilities and retirement priorities, but business partners understand apps through the lens of cost. How much is an app costing and what are my alternatives?  Fail to answer those questions and you are in stasis. There is more to app rat initiatives than just assessing cost, but it’s always the headline for the applications value story. Cloud smart initiatives lead with cost but support with other metrics.

Organizations looking to adopt a systematic app TCO process want to swap out manual effort for automation and guesswork for defensibility.

Replacing manual updates with automated ingestion of operational and financial data allows a monthly or quarterly APM cadence. Once the grunt work of maintaining an IT cost model is automated, organizations are free to focus on the outputof app rat rather than the process of app rat.

A purpose-built solution for cloud smart

Apptio customers deliver ongoing portfolio management with a purpose-built solution.

The Apptio Apps & Services solution enables IT leaders to articulate the true cost and business value of their application and service portfolio. It leverages a single-source-of-truth that provides self-service analytics to business users. It enables the redeployment of unlocked resources to dramatically increase funding for growth and transformation projects. It does this by understanding and optimizing the fully-burdened cost structure and utilization for the apps and services that power the business

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