IT applications are an indispensable part of business processes, and one way or another serve a single purpose: make your business tick in the most efficient way. Whether they are purchased from third parties or developed in-house, applications always entail costs connected with licenses, customization, maintenance, etc. It’s difficult to keep track of these countless applications for businesses of all sizes, and especially for enterprises. This is when application inventory comes to the rescue.
By application inventory, we intend the answers to the following set of questions:
- Which applications support the most critical business processes?
- Which applications, in turn, are unused?
- Which applications aren’t used to their fullest?
- Who has and who needs access to which applications?
- What are the mutual dependencies between all these applications?
- Are the applications license- and security-compliant?
- How much do applications cost to your company?
- Are there any cheaper and viable alternatives to the applications utilized?
- How is it possible to reduce costs by optimizing the usage of needed programs and getting rid of unnecessary ones?
All this information should be easily accessible and up-to-date so that stakeholders can make informed decisions
When Things Get Complicated: Inventorying Cloud Applications
The cloud changes the way of the approach to application inventory management and makes it more challenging. The main focus of cloud application inventory should shift to cost control, version management, and security and compliance.
When it comes to the cloud, the importance of cost control moves to the foreground due to the decentralized nature of cloud applications, making it harder to keep abreast of all of them. That’s why the process of purchasing and implementing a new application must necessarily be reflected in your application inventory. The following information should be gathered:
- Who requested the purchase?
- What is the purpose of the application?
- What types of users will have access to it?
With this information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to manage your cloud application inventory with ease, making sure that your organization’s applications that use cloud resources are really necessary, are being utilized to their fullest and their costs don’t get out of hand.
One of the most challenging tasks of cloud management is keeping your software version consistent across multiple deployments — you could lose sight of the fact that some servers contain outdated software versions, especially if the application inventory process is set up manually.
This way, unexpected problems may occur at any time, and if version management is not being used, it will be difficult for the IT team to get to the real root of the problem.
Security and Compliance
Last but not least, issue that should be taken care of when compiling cloud application inventories is security and compliance, and It’s often, and unjustly overlooked.
In fact, IT administrators should know what applications are being used, by whom, and for what purpose. This will help them make sure that these applications don’t contain malware, spyware, or don’t pose any other threat to the organization’s security.
Besides, cloud application inventory has much importance when your company deals with user data, especially in such regulated industries as financial services or healthcare. In this case, you must make sure whether cloud software you’re using is compliant with appropriate acts and government rules, and user data is stored in a reliable manner, being safeguarded from breach or any other threat. Sometimes, organizations are even obliged to disclose the applications they’re using in their compliance documentation.
Cloud Application Inventory Solutions
Until recently, on-premise application inventory software was hardly affordable for most organizations, not to mention solutions to tracking cloud applications. This is why many keep inventorying applications manually or semi-manually. However, it’s tough for humans to follow each and every aspect of utilized software, particularly when it comes to the cloud infrastructure. So, such an approach to application inventory turns out risky.
Application inventory enables companies to achieve full cloud spend transparency across utilized cloud-based applications and to maintain control over cloud budgets saving money, no matter the size of an organization.
You’ll be able to determine whether any application problems occur:
- Software under-utilization
- The presence of idle resources
- Software version consistency across multiple clouds
- User rights management
- Significant and minor security vulnerabilities
It will spare your organization hours of the workforce and help to identify idle resources to optimize cloud costs.