As organizations undergo digital transformation, IT leaders must modernize its applications to operate at the pace of business change.” – Meghan Rimol, Gartner.
Legacy systems are the biggest hurdle to your digital transformation journey. Over time, their performance declines, critical issues emerge, and they fail to satisfy business needs.
Legacy systems also result in high maintenance costs (a 15% increase) and security loopholes, holding companies back from progressing in their digital transformation journey. If you are looking to digitally transform your business, application modernization should be a top-priority.
In this blog, we explore what is application modernization, how it supports your digital transformation journey, and how you can make the most out of your application modernization initiative.
What is Application Modernization?
Application modernization is the process of updating legacy systems to accommodate modern technologies, architectures, and infrastructure. The idea is to make your legacy system more secure, scalable, and efficient.
The application modernization process involves:
- Migrating the legacy application to a new platform (Replatforming). A suitable example is a company moving its eCommerce application from on-premises to AWS or Microsoft Azure.
- Migrating the legacy application to a new environment without changing its code (Rehosting). A suitable example is a company migrating its eCommerce website to a new cloud hosting provider.
- Redesigning the architecture of a legacy application to make it more scalable and efficient (Re-architecting).A suitable example is a company redesigning an eCommerce application on microservices-based architecture to make it more secure and scalable.
- Reprogramming the application from scratch using modern programming frameworks and languages (Re-engineering). A suitable example is a company developing its eCommerce application again using Laravel because the language it was written in earlier can’t maintain and scale it anymore.
How Application Modernization Supports Digital Transformation
Some of the key ways application modernization supports digital transformation are:
1. Offering a better user experience to your customers and team members
Legacy applications often offer a poor user experience because of their inflexible nature, outdated technologies, complex interface, and lack of features required to achieve business goals. All these things become a roadblock to your digital transformation journey.
Application modernization solves this problem by using the latest technologies and architectures to ensure that the app can respond faster and handle more traffic, enhancing the user experience with a user-friendly interface, and offering more customization options. This way, you can better achieve your digital transformation objectives.
2. Offering greater flexibility
When your team switches from traditional on-premises to a cloud-based system, it can better customize the features and functions to user needs based on real-time feedback. This way, you can deliver a more personalized experience to end users and quickly adapt to the evolving digital transformation landscape.
3. Reducing IT costs and other expenses
Scaling applications on modern architectures like a microservices-based architecture is much easier than traditional monolithic architecture. You don’t need to upgrade the entire application to update a particular feature. Instead, you can update the feature you want to upgrade without impacting the entire application. This way you can significantly reduce IT costs and other expenses.
For example, if you own an eCommerce website built using microservices architecture and want to update its product catalog, you don’t need to upgrade the entire website. Instead, you can upgrade the product catalog microservice without impacting the entire website. This way you can reduce downtime while upgrading the website and significantly reduce the cost of website upgrade.
4. Increasing your organization’s operational efficiency
Legacy applications consume a lot of time and effort due to mundane tasks and complicated processes. Sometimes, legacy apps also experience downtime, especially during peak seasons when they can’t handle a sudden spike in traffic.
Application modernization improves the operation efficiency of your business by automating mundane tasks and streamlining processes. When you shift to a modern architecture like a Microservices-based architecture or migrate to a cloud-based infrastructure, the application becomes equipped to handle a sudden increase in traffic. You can also scale it based on your requirements. This way, your operational efficiency increases and you become more productive.
5. Fulfilling your security and compliance requirements
Outdated legacy software are goldmines for cyber attackers. Since they stop getting security updates from developers, they’re more vulnerable to hackers, making your business prone to cyber-attacks. By modernizing your applications, you can protect them with security measures like SSL encryption and role-based access control.
Application modernization also helps you fulfill compliance requirements by improving security with latest features, increasing visibility and control over your data, and making your applications auditable for globally compliance and industry regulations.
Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Application Modernization Initiative
Some things you must do to make the most out of your application modernization initiative include:
1. Plan before you do
Strategy is the secret sauce to the success in application modernization. Unless you have an end goal and a plan to achieve it, your application modernization campaign will quickly fall like a house of cards.
Hence, you must carefully lay out your application modernization plan before you start acting on it. A few questions you must ask during the planning phase of application modernization:
- What do you want to achieve with the application modernization? Do you want to improve your existing infrastructure to make it adapt to evolving business requirements? Do you want to reduce costs? Do you want to improve security?
- What’s the state of your current applications? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do these applications depend on each other? What gaps are preventing your existing applications from achieving your goals?
- How do you plan to bridge the gap between the state of your existing applications and the state you want to achieve through application modernization?
2. Choose the right application modernization approach
Every weapon has its own purpose in battle. A rocket launcher is an effective weapon, but it’s certainly not useful for close combat. Similarly, using a combat knife in a full-blown war is a novice move.
The similar rule applies to application modernization. Many application modernization approaches exist, such as Replatforming, refactoring, re-engineering, and rehosting. However, not all of these approaches are suitable in each situation. The key to successful application modernization is to choose the right approach that offers you the maximum benefits.
Here’s when you must use Replatforming, refactoring, re-engineering, and rehosting:
- You must replatform your application if you want to improve its performance, increase its scalability, improve its security, and optimize unnecessary costs.
- Refactoring is a good option if you want to improve its internal code by making small changes without altering original behavior.
- You must re-engineer your application if you want to add new features into it without having to build new software from scratch.
- It's best to rehost your application if you want to meet specific business goals like launching a product faster or moving from on-premises to the cloud.
4. Actively track your progress to ensure you’re on the right path
Application modernization is not a one-time sprint, but a marathon. You can’t win it unless you carefully plan your journey, gather feedback, and adapt.
By actively tracking your progress, you can ensure that your application modernization efforts are paying off and you’re not investing your time and money on wasted efforts.
To effectively measure your application modernization process, you must ask the following questions:
- How is your app performing? Did you see an improvement in its performance after modernizing it? If yes, your application modernization efforts were successful.
- Can your modernized app handle a sudden spike in traffic? If not, you need to rethink your application modernization strategy.
- Is your modernized app safer from cyber-attacks? Your application modernization efforts were not successful if there are still security loopholes that attackers may exploit?
- Did your website’s bounce rate go down after modernization? If yes, your application modernization efforts paid off.
5. Seek help if you can’t figure out your application modernization journey
While application modernization has a lot of benefits to offer, it can be challenging to get it right, especially if you are not the tech-savvy type. If you don’t have the expertise and resources to handle your app modernization journey, it’s better to seek help from a reputable application modernization services provider. With their knowledge, resources, and experience – they may be able to offer the support you need and easily guide you through all the pitfalls.