Effective application rationalization eludes agencies

Too often chief information officers lack the data they need to make informed decisions about app inventories.
(Getty Images)

Not enough agencies are rationalizing applications effectively before migrating them to the cloud.

App rationalization involves agencies deciding which apps to keep, replace, retire or consolidate — but too often their chief information officers (CIOs) lack the data they need to make those choices, said Thomas Santucci, the director of the Data Center & Cloud Optimization Initiative project management office (PMO) within the General Services Administration.

While the federal Cloud Smart strategy mandated app rationalization, not enough agencies have a good handle on their inventory — where their application programming interfaces are and what data is being transferred.

“Right now there are too many enterprise architects using Excel spreadsheets, collecting moment-in-time instances of all of their data collections,” Santucci said during a Digital Government Institute event Wednesday. “Application rationalization takes a little bit more holistic approach in incorporating it into the acquisition process.”


The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) encourages agencies to have their CIOs approve major IT investments, but that process occurs too late and with too little data for them to make informed decisions, he added.

Agencies should collect that data in real-time. Instead, many financial management systems only deal at the investment level — like one small agency that had three investments, five security boundaries and 150 applications in one bundle, Santucci said.

App rationalization done right evaluates the total cost of ownership. And labor, not licensing, costs are paramount.

“If we start looking at the labor costs, we may save more money than we’ve done in the billions of dollars that we’ve saved closing data centers,” Santucci said.

The good news is the Cloud and Infrastructure Community of Practice (CoP) that Santucci co-chairs has grown by 2.5-times what it was 18 months prior to about 2,000 members. The CoP has 25 trainings planned, an IPv6 summit in the works and continues to share use cases.


Meanwhile, the CIO Council had Santucci’s PMO, which resides within GSA’s Office of Government-wide Policy, release a playbook on app rationalization for agencies. “We continue to concentrate on data center consolidation first and foremost,” Santucci said. “We urge agencies to close data centers, especially inefficient ones.”

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