The simple fact is that business applications don't have an “expiration date,” and many factors that drive application updates can be ignored or delayed for a considerable amount of time. But forestalling business application updates carries risks, and an administrator must recognize when it's time to invest in application development required for an upgrade.
Application updates: The risk of waiting
Perhaps the biggest risk is to the business itself. Excessive delays can stall the evolution of your data center environment. A company that chooses to delay application updates for the sake of saving some money may find itself playing catch-up with their competitors—potentially losing far more revenue than the timely upgrade would have cost.
“As a good CIO, you need to realize when to spend money on an application because you know the ROI is far greater than not doing it,” said Bill Kleyman, director of technology at World Wide Fittings Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of steel hydraulic tube and fittings in Niles, Ill. “A cost-benefit analysis needs to be done. I try to do it every couple of years on huge deployments.”
Because most organizations develop and support numerous business applications, excessive delays in application development can eventually affect multiple applications. Rather than planning an application development roadmap, spreading out the development workload over time and getting application updates systematically, a company may find itself grappling with a massive update project that adversely affects the production environment. It's a worst-case scenario for any organization that develops software in-house.
Planning for future application development
It is interesting how application development is coming full circle, returning to the conservative resource allocation of bygone days. As server resources grew and far outpaced the needs of business applications, design rules relaxed, application demands bloated, and it didn't matter—the application could never use all of the server's resources.
Today, the combined demands of multiple virtual machines (VMs) can easily overtax a server's CPU, memory and I/O, so application development workers are taking a much closer look at business application demands and application updates.
“We closely monitor the resources that the application is actually using compared to the resources that we're giving it to use,” said Chris Steffen, principal technical architect with Kroll Factual Data in Loveland, Colo.
Future application development for virtual environments may easily include similar monitoring, along with periodic re-coding or streamlining to adjust allocation to reflect actual resource use.
Application development experts underscore the importance of application workload balancing in virtual environments and suggest that business applications themselves should be designed with more of a focus on ways to handle workload balancing rather than relying on other third-party tools such as VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler.
Finally, developers can eventually expect to see application development best practices appear for cloud and virtual application design, but the formation of any real design standards is unlikely in the near future.
“I think right now the best thing you can hope for is maybe a best practices document,” said Kleyman. “But as far as actual standardization, I think it's almost impossible because everything is going to be so custom and so relative to your environment.”
Though application development standardization may not be coming soon, it’s never too early to consider application updates.
About the author
Stephen J. Bigelow, a senior technology editor in the Data Center and Virtualization Media Group at TechTarget Inc., has more than 15 years of technical writing experience in the PC/technology industry. He holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, along with CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+ and Server+ certifications and has written hundreds of articles and more than 15 feature books on computer troubleshooting, including Bigelow’s PC Hardware Desk Reference and Bigelow’s PC Hardware Annoyances. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.