By Karen Astley
Just about every modern business has — or wants to have — its own custom apps, to handle any number of business processes. This desire runs the gamut of companies in terms of both size and industry, ranging from SMBs to multinational conglomerates.
The idea of dedicated applications for precise tasks existed long before Apple started to market the broadening functionality of its earlier-generation iPhones with the slogan, “There’s an app for that.” But the popularity of the phrase reflects the lightning-fast pace of application development that’s occurred over the past decade or so.
Now, in 2018, not only are the public mobile-device marketplaces positively flooded with apps for every job under the sun, but private enterprises have also created thousands of apps of their own by now. But at a certain point, particularly in the context of one organisation, it’s fair to wonder: How many apps is too many?
This brings us to the issue of app sprawl and its resultant inefficiency. There’s no denying the value proposition custom apps can facilitate, but it’s critical to also prevent overburdening your development team — and your business overall — with the creation of all of them. Adopting an application delivery platform capable of this duty may turn out to be a more advantageous and effective solution in the long run.
Approaching the true hazards of app sprawl
Per the definition furnished by Techopedia, app sprawl is simply described as “the growth of an IT system to include more applications and to use more resources overall.” As you might guess, the second part of that phrase is where the potential for trouble emerges. We’ve established that the number of apps developers can devise is all but infinite, but for many different organisations, the tech resources essential to keep all of those apps up and running at optimal levels of efficiency is most certainly not limitless.
App sprawl can be majorly detrimental to an organisation, by wasting money and other resources.
Excessive CPU and memory usage across multiple machines throughout a business’s overall network are the most likely adverse consequences of app sprawl. This is particularly probable if virtual machines are not being used to streamline all of the data flow resulting from each of the different apps a business has developed and set into action. If VMs are drawing their computing resources from a centralised server, having a surfeit of apps will not necessarily be that much of an issue, but in plenty of cases, apps aren’t using that sort of efficient wellspring. The consequence of that is, almost inevitably, a far greater use of man-hours and resources than what would have resulted from the deployment of an efficient business application development platform.
Lost time and money
Taking the time to develop a broad spectrum of proprietary apps is wasteful — for the organisation and all of its employees, directly or indirectly. Arguably, more than anyone else, it wastes developers’ time — especially if an organisation becomes overzealous in its creation of new business process management tools.
Custom app development can create costs ranging between $50,000 and $500,000 — or more — per application. Additionally, after factoring in the salaries for development staff, support and all other IT personnel, as well as incidentals like utilities, the cost of excessive app creation can reach ‘astronomically high’.
To add insult to injury, research has revealed that some CIOs and other C-suite stakeholders aren’t even aware of the resource output: A 2016 study by the Ponemon Institute found that 69% of respondents weren’t even aware of all the apps and databases currently active in their networks. One might not think of it as such on the surface, but these points clearly identify just how much of a money pit and resource dump custom app development can become when the process goes unchecked and overboard.
Methods of managing app sprawl
The simplest way of reducing this type of sprawl is to eliminate superfluous apps from a company’s network, and in some cases, that’s all that needs to be done. But if it was always that easy a matter to handle, app overpopulation wouldn’t be a problem of such magnitude.
But what about the possibility of evading sprawl and all other app development hazards? It’s not a pipe dream by any means — rather, it’s the advantage that an app development platform provides. By uniting app creation on a single app development platform, businesses can achieve complete control of their app ecosystems with efficiency and ease, as well as the assurance of functionality and flexibility across multiple channels, including mobile.