Are We There Yet? Measuring Application Transformation Maturity

One of the most difficult aspects of transformation is being able to effectively define Northstarthe target end state and how to measure your progress towards getting there.

Nowhere is this truer than in the application space. Saying you’re adopting DevOps or going cloud-native is the easy part. Identifying how you’re going to change your development processes, tools and organizational models across your entire apps organization, portfolio and ADM partner ecosystem is much harder.

While incubating new DevOps and continuous delivery factories using a bimodal IT approach may seem like an easy, reasonable starting point for transformation, the end goal should be to adopt a Fast/ Agile IT model (aka Mode 2) as broadly as possible. Getting to Mode 2, at scale, requires a programmatic approach that prioritizes, sequences, and coordinates multiple initiatives across the IT organization.

The EMC Global Services team has developed a comprehensive maturity model for Application Transformation that helps application stakeholders define their ‘north star’ vision and an approach for measuring progress. The model focus on quantitatively assessing maturity across five key domains, and identifying specific quarter-by-quarter steps they need to achieve their vision. These domains and key questions include:


Development / SDLC

The first Application Transformation domain includes basic questions around core SDLC processes, tools and organization comprising:

  • How consistent and standardized are our development processes, and what levels of continuous integration, delivery and release do we want to achieve?
  • What level of process standardization, automation and integration exists across testing and release management?
  • How integrated are mobile apps with overall development and release management processes?


Application transformation requires enabling cloud infrastructure platforms, tool-chains, and workflow automation. This requires clients to ask themselves:

  • How virtualized and truly elastic is our infrastructure? Could we support automated application bursting across hybrid clouds?
  • Can we support self-serve, role-based provisioning of environments and resources?
  • What is our aspiration for automation for SDLC and deployment? Enterprise-wide deployment of a PaaS platform like Pivotal CF? IaaS plus integrated tool chains and scripts? Or something else?
  • What levels of resiliency do we need to provide to support the business? Average MTTR of 1 day? 1 hour? Or less? And how do we achieve that?


Transformation also requires new approaches for application, data and security architecture that extend beyond just cloud-native, including understanding answers to key questions like:

  • How aggressively do we want to move from monolithic or component-based application architectures to microservices or REST over HTTP models?
  • To what extent do we want to adopt enterprise-wise data lakes for analytics? What is our data strategy for users and applications?
  • What types of standardized processes, tools and testing do we need to adopt to identify potential application-level vulnerabilities?

Portfolio Management

To date the majority of application transformation discussion has been on developing new, DevOps enabled models for continuous innovation. In practice, the majority of IT investment for most enterprises is still focused on the existing portfolio. Stakeholders need to ask themselves:

  • Do we truly understand our current application inventory and how it supports the business?
  • Do we have a robust portfolio strategy that identifies what apps should be rationalized, rewritten as cloud-native or replatformed to IaaS models?
  • Have we modernized our ALM and governance approach in light of Lean IT, and DevOps models?

Operating Model

Effective Application Transformation efforts also require a shift towards an IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) operating model. In addition to basic questions around service management, knowledge management and governance enterprises need to ask themselves:

  • To what extent have we enabled a self-serve ITaaS model to support our developers as well as users?
  • Do we have an enterprise architecture function that truly aligns IT and business architecture using a services mindset?

In summary, taken individually, answering each of the questions above is not an insurmountable task. The challenge for application stakeholders is to figure out how to define the activities, dependencies, prioritization and sequencing necessary to develop a robust transformation program across each of these domains.

Not every client will be targeting the same level of maturity across every domain; and no client journeys are exactly the same. A robust maturity model for Application Transformation helps clients design a program appropriate for their specific aspirations, business content and priorities.

Contact us to learn more about how EMC Global Service can help you accelerate your Application Transformation journey.

Scott Bils

About the Author: Scott Bils

Scott Bils is the Vice President of Product Management for Dell Professional Services. In this role, Scott and his team are responsible for driving the strategy and growth of Dell’s Consulting, Education and Managed Services portfolio, and for Dell’s transformation practices in the areas of multicloud, applications and data, resiliency and security and modern workforce. Scott brings over 20 years of experience across Corporate Strategy, Technology Services, Product Management, Marketing and Business Development. In his prior role at Dell, he built and led the Digital Transformation Consulting Practice. Prior to Dell, Scott held executive roles at Scalable Software, Troux Technologies and Trilogy, and also worked at McKinsey and Co. and Accenture. Scott holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s in Finance from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.