How much is Bad Architecture Costing You?

Article by Karan Kirpalani

For years businesses have dealt with IT architecture that’s unable to change. This was due largely to the layer upon layer of technology that’s built up over the years. Technology added, typically, to solve tactical problems, such as the need for an ERP system, a new database for business intelligence, or just to get the latest and greatest technology in house.

However, the addition of each layer of technology caused more complexity. More complexity drove more cost, as well as the inability to change the IT infrastructure to adapt to changing business needs. In other words, we’ve created bad architecture that is clearly costing us a great deal of money, as well as lost business opportunities.

Cloud computing provides us with an opportunity to get some aspects of the architecture in a healthier state. However, like other technology, care must be taken to make sure that you leverage cloud-based platforms correctly. Discipline and planning remain key paths to success.

In many instances, businesses are paying 3 to 5 times the amount of money they should be spending on operations. Moreover, the costs around the lack of business agility due to the unnecessary complexity could be enormous, considering lost business opportunities, such as the inability to move into new markets in a timely manner.

We do know that the rise of complexity caused by bad architectures and a lack of planning causes a few things to occur:

  • First, costs go up. Complex infrastructures are much more difficult and thus more costly to maintain. More staff is required, more technology, and more resources to operate these systems longer term.
  • Second, efficiency goes down. Overly complex IT infrastructures are much less efficient, and thus can’t meet the needs of the business. These suboptimal IT architectures require more resources for a diminishing return.
  • Finally, lack of business agility. This means that the IT infrastructure is lacking agility, or the ability to adapt to the changing needs of the business because of the latency required to change things that are complex and thus difficult to change.

The use of cloud computing does bring certain benefits. Business agility becomes the primary reason to move to cloud computing, at the end of the day. While providers and analysts will point to the ability of cloud computing to reduce the need to purchase new hardware and software (OpEx), the ability to change the nature of the business is where enterprises typically find the value. This has been proven over and over again in the last several years, as we’ve been standing up the first cloud instances.

Those in IT are quick to point out that bad architecture is just a function of the event-driven needs of the business. When IT focuses on solving a series of problems, that limits the time and resources to do the proper architecture and planning.

However, there is a high cost of not planning, and not spending time to think through the architecture. This includes those who create enterprise architecture for a Global 2000 company, or perhaps create the architecture for a single business-critical system. The end results, and costs, are the same. It’s just a matter of scale.