In the digital transformation era, any organization on its road to glory must consider developing specific characteristics such as effective growth, healthy competition, and creating a unique identity from the rest of the competitors. And to achieve all these, the business firms must produce peak performance out of their core business applications.
Many organizations find it difficult, as they are still rooted in the legacy systems, which usually don’t play nicely with the daily emerging latest software applications. If you feel that your organization sounds like that, it’s high time you need to explore applications’ modernization. Traditional means of developing apps and old infrastructure turns out to be growth inhibitors for business firms and entrepreneurs.
Decoding - App Modernization
Let’s first check out what Application Modernization is?
It could be defined as a process in which we take the existing legacy applications and then modernize its platform infrastructure and internal architecture to bring in desired key changes in its features.
In other words, Application Modernization is the practice of refactoring/restructuring old software for the latest computing needs. Most of the time, there is a total revamping of features, including current languages, structures, and infrastructure platforms. This process is often referred to as legacy modernization or sometimes as legacy application modernization.
In this process, the existing old software undergoes a renovation process to improve its efficiency and security so that the structural integrity is enhanced and the final product aligns better with the contemporary business requirements. Legacy modernization becomes very effective when the objective is to extend the current application’s lifespan instead of withdrawing or replacing the existing system as a whole.
Legacy Application Modernization – The Need
Application Modernization equips the organizations in protecting their investments. It also helps refresh the company’s software portfolio to take advantage of the latest infrastructure, tools, programs, languages, and other technological advancements.
Legacy Applications are generally monolithic applications. The two prominent characteristics of such applications make it mandatory to modernize them as early as possible. Monolithic Applications are strenuous to update to meet the present needs; also, they are difficult and very costly to scale. The complexities and integration challenges make it extremely difficult and expensive to add new features to Monolithic Applications.
As the application ship’s components together, it brings in many challenges in the architectural updating of the application. It is very demanding as there is a need to scale up the entire application even if a single component experience performance issues. Ultimately this may lead to wastage of money, time, and expertise.
Hence, it is vital to understand that a robust application modernization strategy can be convenient as it helps minimize the resources required to run an application. The modernization process also helps to escalate the recurrence and reliability of deployments, thereby improving uptime and resiliency. For any organization, application modernization, therefore, occupies a pivotal role in their digital transformation strategy.
Role of Application Assessment in App Modernization
The best way to begin your application modernization project is with a judicious application assessment. Remember that taking an inventory of the existing applications and the level of difficulty updating or modernizing the app plays a significant role on your road to application modernization. The most important factor you should always consider is the updated app’s ability to address customer satisfaction once it is modernized.
With the assessment list, you can easily categorize the app features based on the ease or difficulty and the increased potential value if the app is modernized. Don’t forget about the app’s potential value, as it is critical to the customer experience and your organization’s future.
App modernization should begin with those applications which have high value and low modernization effort. Usually, it is not recommended to use an all-or-nothing strategy while using specific modernization approaches in high-value applications. The high-value apps that are difficult to move can cause some trouble. It is highly recommended to use selected approaches to application modernization that can minimize the risk and cost.
The well-known approaches to application modernization normally focus on various things such as the platform, the architecture, and API to expose an application’s functionality.
Refactoring / Rearchitecting (Monolith to Microservices)
Refactoring is a popular pattern of app modernization. It is ultimately another form of ‘rewriting’ or ‘restructuring’. Refactoring includes breaking down the monolithic application to a group of small and loosely coupled microservices. This is done by retooling the vital chunks of the code so that when it is applied in the new cloud infrastructure environment, it may run better.
For an effective output of the application, we may often have to restructure or even rewrite the existing significant codes. Breaking into microservices is an architectural choice which the development team has to take. The benefits of the cloud-native tools such as containers could be maximized through the pattern of Refactoring.
Rearchitecting will produce positive results despite having a moderate risk and cost. Rearchitecting of the application is done when an organization modifies the original code. It will give them access to the new application architecture with better-desired capabilities. Whereas in refactoring, unlike rearchitecting, we improve the existing code without changing external behavior.
Then there is the ‘strangler pattern’, where, instead of breaking down the monolith all at once, the application is taken apart bit by bit, pulling out the easiest and most valuable parts first.
Cloud Migration/Lift and Shift
Lift and Shift often referred to as rehosting, is a popular method for taking an existing application and moving it from a legacy environment to a newer infrastructure. That is, moving the application from on-premises server to a public cloud platform. There is little or no changes to the underlying code or architecture in this pattern. This feature makes it usually the least intensive approach.
It is often part of refactoring. Replatforming or Rehosting applications is a frequent feature of the modernization process. The best thing about rehosting is that you can do it without doing much of a substantial rewrite. Often, the aim is to restructure the program to take better advantage of cloud models.
Rip and Replace
When we completely eliminate the original application and replace it with a new application that is better suited to the organization’s current business needs, it could be labeled as Rip and Replace. It is a swift process and so helps in saving time and effort. But it always depends upon the organization’s choice, as the process is too risky and costly. Sometimes it may not produce the desired technical changes that we were expecting with relation to the requirements and customer satisfaction.
Exposing functionality using APIs
Another popular approach in modernization involves leaving an application in place but securely exposing its functions or data via APIs. This is an approach that is heavily based on integration than migration. It helps new, cloud-native applications utilize the existing systems and data’s advantages and capabilities.
App Modernization – Key Technologies Used
App Modernization is generally all about referring to shifting or migrating traditional applications to run effectively in the latest cloud environments. This system includes public, private, and sometimes hybrid clouds (which usually refer to public and/or private clouds integrated with on-premises environments.) It is to be noted that the public cloud is an integral part of any modernization strategy. In contrast, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud strategies are also critically important for security, latency, and architectural reasons.
Containers and Kubernetes
Containers and Kubernetes have been transformed into a challenger to VMs, as a form of all-purpose compute in the cloud system. This helps in deploying and operating applications and workloads. Containers are a cloud-centric method for packaging and a key enabler of hybrid cloud and application modernization strategies.
It can provide portability and operational efficiency, which is well-suited for cloud infrastructure, especially in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.
Containerization also gives greater scalability and also helps the application to be packaged in lightweight ways. This results in a smooth and consistent running of the app in the desktop, cloud, or even in on-premises environments. It is a real benefit adding more flexibility.
Microservices is not hailed so much as a technology but as an architectural choice. In this system, we decouple different components into smaller and discrete pieces instead of building and operating an application as a single or complete codebase called monolith. Microservices can be deployed, updated, and operated independently.
Orchestration and Automation
Orchestration is the automation of many of the operational tasks associated with containers. Orchestration includes deployment, scaling, and networking. Automation is a fundamental principle. It ensures that development, operations, and security teams manage their modern apps at scale in a sustainable environment.
The journey through app modernization enables businesses to take advantage of the latest technologies available around the globe. The modernization process helps you in cutting down costly capital expenses.
It can undoubtedly improve the staff’s productivity as the new features and functionality, and modernized applications are built to support the employees even from the grass-root level.
Enabling new services can surely bring in a great change in the customer experience. New user-friendly interfaces will always give you an edge over your competitors. Undoubtedly, Modernization of the Applications can add value to the customer, which eventually may lead you and your business to build new revenue streams.