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  • Writer's pictureFlagler Technologies

Unraveling the Importance of Application Dependency Mapping for Efficient IT Management

Updated: May 7

Has this ever happened at a company you work for? IT installs the latest and greatest software that’s going to improve efficiency, simplify processes, and save your company money. And maybe it does an amazing job doing what the job it’s intended to do — but another application that your company depends on no longer functions properly. Or a new system replaces the functionality of another system, but the company kept paying for the legacy system because they thought they needed it. 

Application Dependency Mapping (ADM) is an essential part of modern business environments. This article will discuss why your IT department depends on Application Dependency Mapping.  

What is Application Dependency Mapping?

In modern business environments, no system operates completely independently of others. By the same token, most systems don’t depend upon or support every other system. That’s why it’s essential to know not only what each system does but also how it relates to other systems in the organization. 

Application Dependency Mapping is a process that allows IT professionals to visually demonstrate the relationship of various servers, databases, components, and applications to one another. Think of it like the cliché “crime board” in television and films. Only instead of organized crime figures, the board contains the components that comprise a company’s information systems. 

The Benefits of Applications Dependency Mapping

On a surface level, it’s easy to understand why an IT department would want to map its systems. Very few IT professionals are going to be able to retain all of the relationships between various components and systems in their heads. Even if they were able to, as new members join the team, it’s a critical training tool. 

Enhanced IT Visibility

Consider the example above where a manager approaches an IT professional about subscribing to a new software application. The manager knows the cost of the new application, but what they don’t know is how replacing the existing software will affect other systems. The Application Dependency Map might show the IT administrator that there are four relationships between the software they’re considering replacing and other systems.

The application depends on two of these other systems and supports two systems. If the replacement software is compatible with all four systems, the cost may be pretty close to what the vendor is charging. On the other hand, if it’s not, it might require additional purchases. The ability of IT professionals to learn this information at a glance is invaluable. 

Improved Troubleshooting

Imagine having a vast system of interconnected subsystems, databases, etc., and something goes wrong with a specific component of it. You run a diagnostic test of the application that is presenting the error, and it appears to be functioning as it was designed. That would probably indicate that the error is coming from another application or component that connects to this one.  

An application dependency map can help your IT department rapidly narrow down the cause of various issues. It can also help them identify areas of weakness or redundancies in the interconnections. 

Efficient Change Management

When it’s time to change or upgrade software or hardware, having a clear ADM can help avoid costly mistakes. It allows your IT team to know how each system component affects the others.

This is particularly useful when a company is migrating data from an in-house server to the cloud. IT can determine which components are “cloud ready” and which will need to be modified, upgraded, or replaced. 

Capacity Planning and Optimization

By understanding which components of a system are utilizing the greatest amount of resources or bandwidth, an IT team can determine whether software or hardware needs to be upgraded, whether a more efficient process can be developed, or if additional resources need to be allocated to alleviate the strain on capacity. 

Effective Risk Management

Application Dependency Mapping can assist IT security in predicting and addressing vulnerabilities. Bad actors often attract the weakest points in a system by identifying products with known vulnerabilities.

IT security personnel can review the connection points and individual parts of the system to determine the path of least resistance. They can then harden the defenses of the overall information system by hardening these weak points. 

Application Dependency Mapping Tools and Techniques

While the process of mapping dependencies might seem simple, it can become quite complex. Keep in mind that few companies anticipate all of their needs from the beginning. In many cases, they’ve added applications and other components as the need has arisen. If there is an existing ADM, it can be updated as new systems are acquired or eliminated. However, that’s not always the case. Here are some of the common tools that IT professionals use to map systems:

Automated Discovery Tools

These are third-party diagnostic tools that identify software, hardware, connections, and dependencies. 

Network Monitoring

This involves monitoring network traffic to determine the relationships between systems based on the way that data flows. 


CMDB stands for configuration management databases, and they store information about information technology components and their relationships to one another. In other words, they collect information as the system builds for mapping purposes. 

Manual Documentation

Regardless of which tool an IT department uses, there is bound to be some level of manual documentation. This involves keeping a log of all connected devices and applications, usually on a spreadsheet. 

If your IT department has never performed a mapping operation before, it may be in your company’s best interest to hire a team that’s experienced with ADM. By performing a cursory check of your system, they can help you develop a comprehensive map and can help you make improvements. 

Best Practices for Application Dependency Mapping

Every IT system is unique, which means that application dependency mapping requires a bespoke approach. However, here are some of the steps that IT professionals take:

  1. Decide on the Objectives of the ADM Process – Are you trying to enhance security? Optimize performance? Reduce the drain on resources? Your company may want all of these positive outcomes, but it’s best to have a priority list. 

  2. Automate the Process – ADM tools may seem like an expensive investment for what may seem like a one-time audit, but the truth is that ADM is an ongoing process, especially for a dynamic business concern. 

  3. Schedule Routine Map Updates – The size and rate of change of your organization will determine how often updates should occur, but it should be a part of regular maintenance and auditing. 

  4. Follow-Up Incidents with a Map Refresh – If you have had to alter your systems due to an incident, chances are good that you’ve altered your map. 

  5. Follow Regulatory Compliance Guidelines – Your IT department should be well-versed in the regulations that impact your industry. If periodic ADM is part of those regulations, you should adhere to the guidelines. 

  6. Use Automated Mapping Features – Many automated discovery tools allow users to schedule periodic or even continuous mapping. This ensures that the IT staff has the most up-to-date ADP.

Application Dependency Mapping FAQ

If you’re an IT administrator who lacks specific experience in application dependency mapping, contact Flagler Tech to speak to one of our specialists. We can help you map your systems with the latest technology. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about ADMs. 

How Frequently Should My Company Map Our System?

The more often you map your system, the better off your company will be if it needs the information that an ADM provides. However, continuous mapping may not be necessary. You should establish a routine schedule and also update your map any time a new application comes online or offline. 

What Are The Advantages of Automated Discovery Tools

Automated discovery tools can accurately map your system in a fraction of the time that it would take to do it manually. In addition, they have settings that allow you to automate the process, so your map is always up-to-date and accurate.

For more information about Application Dependency Mapping and multi-cloud management, contact Flagler Tech today!



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