How To Reduce Software Maintenance Cost of Existing Technology Products?

The cost of maintaining software is rising exponentially and it has been found that software maintenance could account for 70% of the total cost of the software. There are reasons behind this. While more and more software is being developed every day, it becomes hard to maintain them over time.

Lack of proper reporting or documentation and people who work on its development retire or leave without being replaced. Re-engineering the system is not an option because the system that needs to be rebuild could be extensive and not well documented.

The cost of maintaining software can be three times higher than the cost of development. Several businesses do not realize that the initial costs of designing and developing software are just a small part of the total cost of its ownership (TCO).

Moreover, businesses think that maintenance of the software is somehow related to bug fixing, that is not true. Every business evolves and they may need to make enhancements as the business grows. Enterprises may also need to update the existing software to run smoothly on newer versions of both mobile and desktop operating systems. Therefore, maintenance is more crucial than development itself and leads to higher costs.

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are not in the state to pay high maintenance fees for their existing software products. Companies may have certain questions in their minds at this stage; for example, what drives the software maintenance cost, why should businesses reduce maintenance costs and how can they reduce costs effectively.

We have explained the following topics in this article:

 

What are the factors that drive the cost of maintaining software?

  • Adaptive Maintenance
    Adaptive Maintenance accounts for 25% of the total maintenance cost. This kind of maintenance is required when you need to modify the software after its delivery to ensure that the product remains usable in a changing environment. 
  • Corrective Maintenance 
    There is no definition of perfect software. 20% of software maintenance costs arise from resolving issues you identify during the initial deployment or release. 
  • Perfective Maintenance 
    Perfective Maintenance accounts for 5% of the total software maintenance costs that result from improving software to make it perform efficiently. 

Why should you consider reducing the cost of software maintenance?

  • Maximize ROI
    With reduced software maintenance costs, you will be able to focus more on delivering new software rapidly. It results in the maximized ROI for the business.  
  • Increased Productivity with Automated Monitoring
    Automated monitoring tools for maintaining the performance of the software can help in reducing maintenance costs. Therefore, reduced operational costs will result in increased productivity and output. 
  • Expensive Onsite Support Team
    Many organizations hire expensive onsite support team for the maintenance of software, that lead to high maintenance costs. You can choose to work with a partner who works remotely at cost-effective prices. 

We have come up with some of the recommendations and solutions that can help organizations reduce the hefty maintenance costs by following simple steps.

What are the ways to reduce the maintenance cost of existing software?

DevOps

  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment
    From executing projects to building and running services, DevOps can sustain engineering or kill maintenance services. As DevOps can extend the collaboration between operations and development teams and increase the speed of delivery to production, it has pulled the plug on the myth that maintenance needs to be done by engineering teams.

    In DevOps, changes happen faster with Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment. Response times and cycle times get reduced from months/weeks to days or hours. Feedback cycles can be extended from development into production, allowing the entire IT company to learn, experiment and improve real user testing.You don’t need to hire a special team or services for maintaining the software. Instead, developers can collaborate and customers to ensure that the system is configured correctly and running optimally.

    Automation in DevOps can help you reduce the maintenance costs of the existing projects. Automation starts in the DevOps right from the code generation on the machines of developers till the code is merged to the master branch and after that to track the system and application in production.

    Automation in DevOps facilitates greater accuracy, high speed, reliability and consistency to increase the number of software deliveries.

    Manual configuration is more vulnerable to errors. In the case of manual setup, network configurations can get bored after doing the same task repeatedly and end up in making mistakes because of negligence.

    The introduction of automation for software version controlling and installation has emerged as a huge gain and reduced human errors. Also, it can save more time and allow anyone to do this, without depending on any skilled member. DevOps even allows the operations team to automate all activities, including the configuration of servers and networks and firewalls, provisioning of servers and monitoring of applications in the production system.

    Selecting the right automation and framework tool is the essential requirement for automation in DevOps. You can find many open-source and licensed tools that support end-to-end automation of the delivery pipeline, including provisioning of machines, activities performed by the operations team, configuring networks, spinning of automated servers, performance monitoring and firewalls.

  • Automatic Performance Monitoring
    As enterprises face increasing competitive pressures in today’s global market, they depend on a complicated, broad IT infrastructure to enable business processes required for day-to-day business tasks. Since more enterprise users depend on applications delivered through these IT environments to accomplish business success, any disruption in system availability can have a direct impact on the significant external and internal metrics of business performance.

    As a result, maximizing system availability and performance across the IT infrastructure is an enterprise-wide requirement, requiring a thorough approach to IT system management and ongoing IT operations. It may lead to high maintenance costs.

    The cost of downtime can range significantly across industries and is dependent on the application. According to IDC, the financial services sector has the highest cost per downtime hour. Organizations deploy more apps to automate day-to-day tasks and simplifying IT infrastructure to maximize system availability. As a result, the burden to ensure high-performance increases and the cost of maintenance also goes up.

    Industrywide best practices for managing and reducing downtime include proactive support services, IT framework best practices, advanced IT management tools, clustering, and virtualization. Enterprises that implement all of these best practices can realize a significant reduction in the number of annual downtime hours.

    One of the best ways to reduce maintenance costs is by implementing automatic monitoring tools that can monitor the performance of system 24*7.

    Here are some of the automatic monitoring tools that can help you cut down expensive maintenance costs by reducing human intervention:

    1. Uptime Robot
      Uptime Robot is a free tool used for monitoring websites. It can monitor the performance of websites every 5 minutes and notifies if the site goes down. Uptime Robot can provide different types of monitoring, including HTTP(s) (website monitoring), keyword (checking if a keyword exists in the web page or not), port (monitoring services like DNS, pop and SMTP) and ping (server monitoring).
    2. Site24x7
      Site24x7 is a full-stack performance solution that facilitates monitoring of website, server, cloud, application, network and real-time user. It provides cloud monitoring for IT operations and DevOps with monitoring capabilities extending to examining the real user experience accessing apps and websites from mobile devices and desktop. The tool assists DevOps teams to track and troubleshoot applications, network and server infrastructure, including public and private clouds.
    3. Tornimo
      Tornimo provides real-time monitoring and notifications to monitor what’s going on and how to act fast. It is hosted on the AWS cloud that allows scaling without high pricing. Using Tornimo, you can track a wide array of metrics, including the number of visitors, memory usage, the value of transactions, queue length, session length, number of concurrent sessions and time it takes to execute requests.
    4. Nagios
      It is a powerful monitoring system that allows organizations to resolve and identify IT infrastructure problems before they impact critical business processes. The tool has been designed and developed with flexibility and scalability in mind to provide organizations with the peace of mind by ensuring that unwanted outages won’t impact their business processes.
    5. Checkmk
      Checkmk is one of the best infrastructure and application monitoring tools that can help you always stay up and running from simple to complex environments. This tool is an extension to the Nagios monitoring system that enables the creation of rule-based configuration with Python and offloading work from the Nagios core for better scaling. Extension to Nagios allows more systems to be monitored from an individual Nagios server. It provides a set of system checks, a JavaScript-based web user interface, a mod_python and a module that provides fast access to the Nagios core.

    Automated monitoring practices can simplify application performance management. It can automate many processes, including server and application monitoring, to save manual administration time and reduce maintenance costs.

  • Self-healing using Jenkins and Continuous Deployment
    When more and more routine tasks can be automated, resources and work hours can be allocated in improving its performance and infrastructure. Developing the self-healing IT infrastructure that can perform everyday tasks automatically would enhance the DevOps workflows efficiently.Self-healing defines the ability of environments or systems to detect and fix issues automatically. It removes the need for human intervention so that organizations no more need to rely on humans to fix problems.

    Self-healing is an effective method than depending on humans because:

    1. Automated systems are less likely to make errors and mistakes.
    2. Self-healing is poised to fix problems rapidly than humans as it can respond instantly based on machine or rule-based learning. It does not need to stop or think about the issue before acting.
    3. A self-healing environment is scalable without any limitations. It is a significant advantage over environments that are managed manually.

    Continuous integration servers can be used to automate testing. Using release automation tools like Jenkins streamlines the deployment process. Therefore, we will be explaining how Jenkins can enable the self-healing process.

    Jenkins is an open-source continuous integration server used to manage delivery pipelines and continuous integration builds. By increasing the scale of automation, Jenkins requires little maintenance and comprises of a built-in GUI tool for easy updates.

    Jenkins integrates all the processes of the development lifecycle, including build, test, document, stage, package, deploy and static analysis. It allows you to configure alerts in many ways, for instance, receiving pop-ups or email notification. It can help you get the immediate feedback and understand if the build broke, how did it fail and how to revert it.

    When a developer integrates the code into a shared repository, each integration is verified by the automated build and test tool, Jenkins. Errors can be detected as soon as the code is integrated into the repository and locate them quickly. As every change introduced in the code is small, locating the specific change that originated a defect can be done fastly.

    Jenkins facilitates Continuous Deployment and Continuous Delivery to keep applications deployable at any point and push the main codebase automatically into production whenever new changes are introduced. It allows companies to focus on building more applications. Therefore, self-healing using CI and CD can result in fewer maintenance costs due to automated detection and fixing of issues.

  • Instant Notification to Teams
    Automatic monitoring tools, including Uptime Robot and Site24*7, send notifications of uptime and downtime events. With the Uptime Robot Integration, Zapier acts as a dispatcher for these alerts and identifies the right people to notify people via email, text messages (SMS), phone calls, slack and push notifications. Notifying teams instantly via different channels can help the development team fix issues immediately, without depending on the specially skilled workers. As a result, maintenance costs can be reduced by locating and fixing problems quickly.
  • Automated Reporting and RPA
    In Robotic Process Automation, digital software robots perform repetitive tasks to enhance business process execution. But how is it related to DevOps and Software Maintenance?

    At first, RPA might not seem correlated to the development cycle. However, application automation is a significant part of the user experience. So, you should not delegate it to operation teams only. Instead, automation of applications should be considered, like all application artifacts being tested and updated continuously. 

    Using RPA, the team working on the maintenance of the software can enhance the quality and productivity of software and expedite the task execution. It can enable the IT process automation and IT service management. Let’s consider the example of incident management. RPA bots can use business logic to offer an immediate response to an event that affects crucial processes. It can reduce the number of support workforce required to be on a call to resolve it. 

    RPA assures zero mistakes and it never sleeps. It can execute reliably and reduce risks of failure. Therefore, you have full control to perform operations following existing standards and regulations.   

Usage of Free Credits

Using free credits provided by the cloud hosting platforms for a certain period is also one of the effective ways to reduce the maintenance costs of your existing projects. Cloud platforms like AWS, Alibaba and Azure provide free credits for a specific period. With free credits, we can deploy the system on such cloud platforms and can switch to another platform when the free credits are over.

Let’s understand how free credits work with an example of AWS Free Tier. 

The AWS Free Tier offers customers the ability to discover and try out AWS services free of cost up to specific limits for each service. The free tier program comprises three different offerings – an Always free offer, a 12-month free tier and short term trials. 

A 12-month free trial allows customers to use the AWS services for free for one year but with specific limits. On the other hand, users can use an Always-free service for free up to certain restrictions as long as they are AWS customers. A short-term trial service allows customers to use any specific service for a particular period or a one-time limit. 

In case your application exceeds the usage of the AWS free tier program, you can pay-as-you-go service rates. 

You can find many free trial programs provided by Cloud Hosting Platforms that can help you reduce expensive maintenance costs. 

What are the best ways to reduce development costs?

  • API Integration
    API Integration defines how two or more applications can be connected using their APIs to carry out the joint function. Instead of developing any new feature from scratch, it is good to integrate APIs that can solve your problems. You can find numerous APIs for different purposes on the RapidAPI marketplace where you can find and connect to thousands of APIs and manage multiple APIs from a single dashboard.For example, you can use Auth0 to integrate authorization and authentication for mobile, web and legacy applications, SNS to enable notification systems in the software application and Stripe to integrate payment gateways into the app.

    API integration reduces costs by saving developers’ efforts to build features from scratch and maintain them regularly.

  • Integration of SDK
    SDKs (Software Development Kits) provide you a cost-effective and time-saving way to integrate third-party features into your apps and websites. Half of the SDKs in the market are related to customer experience and marketing, addressing requirements such as A/B testing, analytics, user engagement and attribution, but you can also find SDKs for user login and authentication, payment processing, crash reporting and more.

    When SDKs are integrated efficiently into the apps or websites, its libraries provide app developers with access to various core components required to develop and maintain high-quality software experiences. Integrating SDKs properly can save your time as well as the cost to add new features to the already developed software products.However, SDKs are not a one-stop solution to fix all issues. Implementing too many SDKs improperly can create a wide array of problems, including instability, battery life drainage, data leakage, app bloat and many other issues.

    Following are some of the essential steps to integrate SDKs without errors:

      1. Before incorporating any SDK, you need to determine business objectives, understand how an SDK work towards those objectives, what risks could a specific SDK cause, what metrics will define success and how will you analyze such metrics. It will help you implement an SDK in the first place and reduce the risks of app bloat. Once you identify an SDK fits into your plan, you are ready to start the testing and vetting process.
      2. It is essential to understand that adding new code into the environment can introduce a high degree of risk before integrating SDKs. Risks can be mitigated by checking an SDK thoroughly. It should not take a lot of time to review the SDK.
        Therefore, we believe committing some of your time in code review can help you understand what SDK can achieve within your application and its requirements.
      3. SDKs offer services and features to applications while reducing the testing and development time it would take to develop those features from scratch. After integrating SDKs, updating it regularly can keep the app running easily. We recommend automating updates as much as you can to free up the burden on your developers and focus on developing further.

      SDK integration can also turn out to be one of the potential ways to reduce maintenance costs when it comes to adding new features in the existing software.

We understand that your business might be going through adverse conditions because of the global pandemic situation. But our team has a complete plan of how to mitigate the impact and continue to run businesses smoothly with fewer maintenance costs. Contact us and schedule a 30-minute free consultation call with our experts. 

Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar
Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO at LeewayHertz. With the experience of building over 100+ platforms for startups and enterprise allows Akash to rapidly architect and design solutions that are scalable and beautiful.
Akash's ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s. Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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