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'Kill' Applications? Sorry, I'm not convinced

I’m not convinced about a newly coined term that landed in my inbox this week. I speak of none other than the ‘kill’ application.

I’m not convinced about a newly coined term that landed in my inbox this week. I speak of none other than the ‘kill’ application.

This kill application is described as being prevalent in old systems where the code is no longer maintained or supported. The term itself is being used in conjunction with a poll by 360°IT - The IT Infrastructure Event, due to take place at London's Earls Court this coming September.

It is suggested that kill applications generally only represent a tiny handful of the total IT “estate” (perhaps 1-5%), but are impossibly difficult to change and that the guys who wrote and maintained the code are retired (or dead).

I get the concept for sure, but it just makes me think of the positive side of legacy applications. I spoke to one of Microsoft’s emeritus evangelist senior ‘fellow’ types at a Tech.Ed developer conference some years back now and he told me, “Hey – don’t knock legacy applications, it’s just code that still works!”

If you look at companies like Micro Focus who spend lots of time telling us about the value still locked inside enterprise legacy systems (particularly COBOL-based systems), then I find it hard to stomach the rather aggressively termed ‘kill’ application.

I think we need more clarification here; I would be prepared to accept ‘wounded’ application I suppose if we can identify apps that may soon come to the end of their natural life.

In conjunction with the 360°IT event, Steve O'Donnell managing director and senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) also describes ‘operate' applications - no matter how much better we make them, they don’t improve business performance.

… and also ‘invest’ applications - these are the applications that the CEO knows about - the ones that when they get better, faster or more functional have a direct impact on business value.

You can read more on Steve O'Donnell’s blog here if you have further interest in these concepts.