Application Modernization: From Basics to Best Practices
Many modern businesses across the globe are betting their organizations on legacy applications that were developed years or even decades ago. Let’s face the truth – software is not like wine, it does not get better with age. The usability and features of applications become more and more outdated with changing demands of users.
However, some systems are difficult to replace, especially those that manage the crucial business process with the company. These legacy systems, therefore, require modernization.
What are Legacy Applications?
As defined by Gartner, a legacy application is “an information system that may be based on outdated technologies, but is critical to day-to-day operations.”1 Legacy applications run on an obsolete mainframe for core business operations such as processing high volume data. These systems are fine-tuned over the years, adapted to deliver specific functionality.
Modernizing legacy applications is not always done because of their age. It might be due to the lack of support or its inability to meet the needs of the business or organization or due to its outdated architecture, underlying technology, or design.
Why Should Businesses Modernize Legacy Applications?
Legacy technology can be a major barrier to digital transformation. Among the CIOs surveyed by Logicalis, more than half need to dedicate anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of their time to manage their legacy IT instead of putting that energy into strategic activities.2
To stay competitive in the modern business and protect applications from crashes, modernization is important. Here are a few other reasons:
- Easy connections and storage of large amounts of data and data sources generated in today’s digital business landscape
- Keeping up with the changing user expectations, especially in terms of the customer experience
- Always meeting the availability requirements of the digital world
- Providing applications with greater flexibility, agility, and scalability
Actually, there are quite a lot of reasons to modernize your legacy systems, such as:
- The cost of running legacy software is quite huge
- Just like the software itself, the underlying infrastructure becomes harder and more expensive to maintain with time
- A dedicated staff of developers supporting and maintaining these legacy applications is a large expense
- Another aspect of legacy systems that comes at a high cost is integration and compliance
- Legacy systems are usually less resistant to cyberattacks, harmful programs, and malware
- By investing in legacy software support and maintenance, a company can incur a loss in business opportunity as it leaves the enterprise with very little room for innovations
Replacing legacy systems and applications with new and upgraded technologies is one of the most challenging tasks. Before companies dive into modernizing their legacy applications, enterprises must know the best practices to ensure compatibility with old systems and data formats that are still in use.
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3 Best practices for Application Modernization
When modernizing legacy systems, enterprises are looking to either replace or improve existing functionalities through a more simplified workflow. Hence it’s important to understand the source system, properly evaluate the business needs, plan a goal, timelines, and vision for the modernization initiative.
Here is a 3-step guide to follow while implementing the application modernization journey.
Define business goals, not IT goals.
Before starting with modernization, it’s important to define the goals and priorities of the business and how best you can address them. Consider the biggest issue and how technology can help you tackle the challenges.
Plan the right approach
Planning the right approach requires dynamic thinking that supports DevOps principles, and enables application scalability. While there are many approaches to migrating your application, here is the 5-R strategy to follow for Application Modernization:
- Re-hosting: Moving your application’s underlying resources from an on-premise data center to the cloud as-is.
- Re-platforming: Re-platform your legacy application to take advantage of modern technologies, environments, and architectures without making a lot of changes to your application.
- Rearchitecting: Rethink your architecture to achieve your goals while reusing most or some of your existing application code.
- Rebuilding: Rewrite your application using cloud-native features.
- Replacing/Retain/Retire: Reassessing business requirements to replace or retain or retire your legacy application.
It’s important to keep in mind that modernization strategies should be iterative. Different strategies can apply to different portions of applications. Though companies can start with one approach, gain some benefits, and then continue to modernize using other approaches to ensure maximum benefit.
Be cloud-smart rather than cloud-first!
Instead of migrating all the applications to the cloud, analyze the workload first, and prioritize the ones that need to be moved. Understand the interdependency of each application and how it performs under the current pattern of the workload. Get a clear baseline on how they relate to the critical business KPIs. Some might be required to support the complex and long term efforts, others require more planning. Before migrating consider keeping data in an on-premises data center that can be accessed via an API.
The time to evolve your application is now!
iLink believes that modernizing applications is not a one-time event but an ongoing evolution. Our experts help enterprises to map out a perfect strategy that meets their business demand. We work with you to create a migration plan that will improve your service levels, fits your budget, and help you create market differentiation.