What is application modernization?
Application modernization describes the process of leveraging modern technology stacks to update/modernize older, legacy software applications, for newer computing approaches like cloud-based IT environments - to keep pace with the demand of the new digital economy.
This is especially beneficial as applications modernization allows businesses to take advantage of the advanced technology progress, to update their software portfolio instead of having to retire such important legacy systems altogether, thus effectively protecting their financial and technology investments.
Additionally, modernizing applications is critical for businesses that are looking to continuously deliver value from existing legacy systems. It plays a key role in any organization’s digital transformation and transition to a cloud IT environment.
The business world is shifting to the cloud with the majority of applications being built to deploy and run on the cloud. According to a forecast by Gartner Inc, Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is predicted to grow 23.1% in 2021 to total $332.3 billion, up from $270 billion in 2020. Still, many businesses are still operating on legacy systems that require modernization. The need to move away from legacy and advance to the cloud is indeed on the rise.
What are the options for modernizing legacy applications?
Gartner has provided and ranked the 7 options for modernizing applications by the ease of implementation.
Generally speaking, when it comes to modernizing legacy applications, the approach would depend largely on the problems that businesses are trying to solve. The easier the option, the less impact and risks it will have on the existing systems and business processes, and vice versa.
Among the 7 options, some of the common ones are:
Refers to the re-deployment of legacy applications to the cloud. This option, for example, can be particularly helpful for companies that are looking to grant anywhere access to employees while still not modifying the source code, features, or functionality of the application. Re-hosting is a safe and relatively easy option, without offering many cloud adoption-related benefits.
Replatform applications refer to the moving of legacy applications to the cloud with some minor or specific changes performed, while still keeping the code base mainly intact. This is beneficial in terms of cloud services adoption, for example, enabling efficient scaling and leveraging reserved resources in the cloud environment with minimal code changes.
Application refactoring involves the significant modification of existing legacy applications, to take advantage of cloud-based features and the flexibility that comes with them. Refactoring is harder and requires more time and resource-intensive than the other approaches, in return, it can adapt to customers' needs better and makes the application more resilient in the long run.
Other approaches include Encapsulation, Re-architecting, Rebuild, and Replacement.
To choose the best suitable option, it’s necessary to take into account the existing legacy applications’ internal architecture, your business requirements, and your project budget.
The general rule for implementation boils down to complexity and costs, where the more difficult the option, the more risks, and impacts on business it will have. This is especially material when modernizing applications that are becoming obsolete and have complicated dependencies with other applications.
What are the business benefits of application modernization?
The ultimate aim of application modernization is to ensure the continuous delivery of pleasant end-user experiences, keeping up with the constant changes and evolving of technology over time. Modernizing applications can be an effective method to reduce the risk of outdated / end-of-support for legacy software; changes can be frequently introduced and deployed and systems can be overhauled in process-driven ways.
Moreover, cloud migration is also a cost-effective method to help businesses optimize their IT costs to run applications and improve overall system performance. Additional benefits include flexibility and scalability due to the cloud pricing model of paying only for the cloud resources consumed, and also the ability to rapidly scale up resources on-demand to meet the spikes in resources.
Other significant benefits of cloud migration are improvement in “speed of change”, and agility, enabling businesses to keep up with changes more quickly, especially during uncertain times, in the pandemic. Application modernization also helps with increased performance, simplified updates, and high availability provision under increasing loads.
Tips for a successful modernization project
As mentioned above, application modernization projects can have a big effect on the current business process and may become costly and/or risky to businesses.
In addition to weighing all the options to identify the suitable modernizing option with the most desired effects, businesses can also reduce the risks when transitioning to the cloud by paying attention to the following:
Conduct Project Assessment
The first step of any legacy modernization project is to assess the feasibility of how difficult it is to move the application to the cloud, and whether modernization can provide greater business values. Legacy systems are often monolithic, of large scale, and can be too risky to change (or sometimes, too costly to run in the cloud) due to their complexity.
To make sure the project investment is worthwhile and can pay off, it is essential to start the modernization process by conducting the assessment in terms of the effect of modernization on technology, architecture, functionality, cost, and risk, specifically through:
- Identifying the needed improvements.
- Detailed evaluation of technology, architecture, data, and infrastructure, etc.
- Examine potential cloud security concerns (if any).
- Calculation of project ROI (return on investment).
- Choosing the best suitable modernization approach.
- Report on modernization feasibility.
Plan to reduce business downtime, and disruption to a minimum
Legacy applications, even when under modernization, are still needed for day-to-day business operations. Thus, downtime should be reduced to a minimum level. To avoid business disruption, while carrying out digital transformation, it’s essential to divide the modernization process into manageable phases, with clearly defined tasks, and take preventive actions for a rollback in case of errors. Software testing and QA should also be employed to validate the changes promptly, frequently, and comprehensively.
Choosing the suitable public cloud solution
According to a report by Synergy research, the three current leading vendors in the public cloud marketplace are AWS by Amazon, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform - with Amazon capturing a staggering 32% of the market in Q4/2020, exceeding the combined market share of both Microsoft and Google. Being around in the market longer allows AWS to test and continuously improve its cloud platform, meeting the rising demand by consumers through a growing portfolio of cloud services offerings.
Still, the cloud provider choice should be made by considering your business-specific needs, including factors like system architecture, pricing models, etc., and cloud services offerings that can effectively cover all your needs.
The success of your application modernization project depends largely on your available in-house IT resources including the expertise and experience of your team.
If you do not have an in-house IT team or time to build one, be sure to look for a technology partner that can help you with digital apps and platform modernization. Our team at KMS Solutions will be happy to support you at any stage of your modernizing journey, contact us today.