Quest Software, which became part of Dell in September, commissioned a survey earlier in the year to assess the financial and operational impact on enterprise IT of of managing a large number of applications. The survey found that it’s common for an organisation to have thousands of unused or little-used apps, which translate to poor application performance, significant costs and unnecessary power use.
The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive in June 2012. Of the 150 senior IT decision-makers contacted from organisations with more than 500 applications and $500 million-plus in revenue, application bloat is a significant and growing problem. The survey findings included:
• 52% of respondents estimate that slow, crashed or unresponsive applications cost their business at least hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
• In a typical day, a majority (57%) use less than 249 applications (half of total apps), while 28% said they use less than 50 apps and, of those accessed daily, 76% say they access less than half more than five times a day.
• Respondents indicate that only 21% have deployed cloud-based applications, while 79% of apps are currently run on-premise.
• 58% of respondents say the performance of applications has a major impact on the performance of their business and 77% of respondents would choose IT efficiency over reducing staff or outsourcing if told to reduce IT related operating costs.
Review: This survey was not specifically about green IT, but a means to point out the need for better application performance monitoring tools by a company that provides them. But the survey makes it clear that unused applications are wasting power and energy in IT operations.
Of course, just looking at the applications used in one day doesn’t give a good indication of overall use. Many will be used only on a monthly, quarterly or annual cycle or as the result of seasonal trends and other business activity. But it’s clear that the IT departments themselves see bad applications having a significant impact on IT operations and hence business performance.
In recent years there has been a lot of focus on addressing underused hardware through virtualisation – putting a number of ‘virtual’ machines on one physical device. Companies such as 1E have also developed software to identify servers that are doing no useful work at all – forgotten devices that only run antivirus and backup software but do no useful work. But that’s the easy part. It’s harder to identify applications that are badly written or underused, and harder still to do anything about them.
If we are to continue to make progress in reducing the energy emissions from IT, then the challenge is to make applications themselves more efficient in how they work and how they are used.