Businesses must make serious and clear attempts to forecast the end of lifecycles of their systems, if they want to make savings in a difficult economy, according to analyst house Gartner.
Most businesses think about starting new systems, “but not about ending them”, Gartner research VP Phil Allega told Computerworld UK ahead of the company’s Enterprise Architecture Summit in London today.
Allega said as an example that many businesses had not prepared for moving on from the Microsoft Windows XP operating system, “even though it could be two or three years away from entering the end of life phase”. This was a surprise, he said, considering the current economic conditions and the sudden costs it could present.
Businesses need to model the system capabilities they currently have; the changes they will have to make when systems are replaced; and how to achieve the capabilities they seek, he said. They would also be wise to forecast the movement of their system programmers and managers, including those who could retire or quit leaving no other staff member who has expertise on a particular program.
Gartner has devised a ‘market clock’, which is a visual framework to help businesses evaluate and prioritise their IT investment and divestment activities throughout the entire asset lifecycle.
Models of systems and their lifecycles need to be detailed but clear to follow, Allega said. Different businesses have a range of ways of doing this.
Some businesses draw up a capability map, which shows the current state of systems, he said, comparing the state and capability of today's devices versus tomorrow’s. Other businesses draw up a federated model, showing the location and ownership of systems, to make clear the responsibilities and decision making processes.
A third, advanced model is a “hyper-extended” enterprise network, a series of nodes describing the relationships between business stakeholder systems and those of customers and partners.
Allega acknowledged a particularly high amount of pressure was being felt by those responsible for system architecture, ranging from senior management staff to “those executing the change day-to-day”, as they try to cut costs but prepare for innovation ahead of an economic recovery.
“The need to preserve cash has led companies to extend the lifecycles of equipment,” he said. “But they often don’t measure how much the business decisions they’re making will mean the systems are not as fit for purpose as they once were. There's a feeling that that's got to change.”