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DevSecOps

What is Application Modernization? Strategy, Tools, Steps.

What is Application Modernization? Strategy, Tools, Steps.

Change is the only constant. However, certain changes cause huge turmoil for businesses and can cause severe impediments. For instance, the constant change in the system version and technology will leave your current IT infrastructure insignificant and will force businesses to update or replace them.

This is a never-ending cycle; technology that is making high waves today might become outdated tomorrow. But, businesses have to match the pace with these changes, even if it seems hard. A crisp and result-driven application modernization strategy is what pushes a venture to remain time-relevant on the technology front. Let’s get familiar with it.

Learning Objectives

Application Modernization: What Exactly is it?

Technology is meant to be changed and with a change of time, it’s obvious to find some technology or system outdated. For instance, we don’t use floppy disks for CDs for data storage as they are outmoded presently. It applies to other operational tools as. Both the software and hardware tend to become invalid with time.

Now, we have two approaches to fix this issue. 

The first one is to buy the latest tools and technology, which is too time-consuming and asks for high investments. It even causes huge operational disturbances.

The next and easy way out is to modernize the existing apps/tools with the least possible hassles. Rather than buying an entirely new technology stack, you can easily update it. This is known as application modernization in the world of IT.

It aims at complete or partial update of technology/system/software that has become outdated. Mostly, it revolves around moving to the cloud from on-premise deployment. Putting businesses on the cloud is the first aim of this process. The cloud deployment could be private, public, and hybrid, as per your business requirements.

Modernization is not always done during cloud migration. Version update and adding new integrations to an already-deployed cloud tool is also a part of the app modernization strategy.  

It is often also referred to as legacy application modernization because it mostly is about getting rid of legacy systems/applications.

Why Do You Need To Modernize Legacy Apps?

If not replaced, an legacy app may become a migraine for concerning organizations. For instance, it will cause communicational hurdles as most of the legacy apps won’t be able to pair with modern solutions/technologies being used in your company. Can you run Zoom on the early Windows version? No, you can’t.

Security, integration, and workflow sharing are the other fronts where legacy apps won’t be able to deliver the best performance. Their penetration for a long time is going to drag back organizations and will put all the efforts in vain.  

Scalability won’t be an easy job as most of the contemporary tools won’t be able to support legacy systems. Moving forward with all these hurdles isn’t possible for any organization. Hence, modernizing legacy apps is the only way out.

Application Modernization

Benefits and challenges of application modernization

  • Improves functionality

Modernizing outmoded apps has a direct impact on the organization’s functionality. In no time, the organization will be able to use or integrate modern-day tools and technology like AI, IoT, ML, metaverse, and so on.

Teams will feel empowered as the best resources will be at their disposal. Be it communication or data exchange, everything will be offered in its best and latest form. All these things will add up to the functionality of a team and bring results beyond one’s expectations.

  • Reduced operational costs

Most of the legacy app modernization is all about putting organizations on a cloud-first approach. Cloud-based tools bring a lot to the table and controlled operational cost is one of them. They are vendor-hosted and their maintenance, set-up, security fixing, and everything else is well-taken care of by the vendor. You pay a subscription fee and you’re good to go.

  • Elevated performance delivery

One immediate impact of removing legacy tools is on overall performance as automation is now integrated into the workflow. Many manual jobs are now fully automated and error-free. The addition of optimized features empowers the team so much that they can deliver more in due time.

  • Best-in-class security

Legacy apps don’t have strong security standing. They will hardly work with modern-day security solutions like WAF, VPN, and API security tools. This incompatibility degrades their ability to deal with notorious cyber threats putting them in danger. By adopting new technologies, organizations can be strong security-wise and resist the risks.

Challenges

  • Internal resistance

At the time, not every team member would be ready to bid farewell to old-goldie legacy systems. They might not be ready for this revolutionary change as they may not be comfortable working with new technologies that feel so aligned for them. You need to check the acceptance level of the process within the organization.

  • Not a steady plan

Often, organizations don’t make any move toward app modernization because they lack a concrete plan. Finding the apps, needing an update, deciding on a strategy, setting up a budget, or everything else that it demands is not an easy job and not many can pull it off.

  • Not having enough funds

Finance is a major hurdle in many cases. Needless to say that app modernizations will ask for a huge upfront investment that only a few organizations have.

  • Ensuring the data integrating

This is a huge challenge to deal with. When you adopt the ‘life-and-shift’ approach or try to migrate the entire infrastructure, the risk of losing some data and facing any changes is always there. Data duplication is also a very common issue. As data holds great significance for business operations, any error on this front is not acceptable.

Technologies For Modernizing Applications

The application modernization approach will only bring desired results when it features human intelligence and the right kind of technologies. Here are some of the most common tools and technologies that make app modernization possible:

  1. Containers

They make it possible to bring application codes together. Because of this, it’s easy to do multiple ecosystem application deployments.  

  1. Cloud Computing

Being the core application modernization technology of the procedure, it involves using cloud-based tools that will help organizations to be more efficient and productive. Cloud-based tools are easy-to-use and scale.

  1. Microservices

In a modern application development approach, microservices involve breaking down complex apps into simple entities and carrying out development separately. It eases development so much that developers can work on multiple aspects of an app independently and reduce the total time consumption.

  1. Orchestration and Automation

Responsible for paced-up the solution development, automation & orchestrations are an integral part of app modernization. Orchestration is all about container automation. It automates networking, scaling, and deployment of orchestration.

Automation means removing human intervention as much as possible and mechanized development aspects like coding, security, testing, and integration. It makes scalability easy to obtain. 

Popular Application Modernization Patterns Used around the World

  • Lift & shift

As the name suggests, this pattern involves lifting the legacy app to shift it to an updated or more appropriately a cloud computing ecosystem. As the hosting environment of the concerned application changes, it’s often known as rehosting.

The new environment that is hosting the app could be a private, public, or hybrid cloud. The best part of this pattern is that it modernizes the application in its original form.

The core coding base or app architecture remains the same as no changes are done to it. So, if maintaining the app’s integrity is your core aim and then this approach is best for you. 

Also, it’s very less labor-intensive. However, it’s not preferred when the coding base of the legacy app is too outdated.  

  • Refactoring

It involves modifying certain coding aspects of the concerned app/tool so that it can become time relevant. Few codes will demand minor rewriting while some would ask for an entire reconstruction. As it involves certain code restructure, the pattern is also known as restructuring.

Mostly, this pattern works best when the goal here is to break down monolithic applications into compact and less complicated components. Consider microservices; they are designed with this pattern only.

  • Replatforming

Up next, we have platforming which is the middle path between the above two patterns. It won’t change codes as much as refactoring but also not intact it, the way lift-and-shift does.

Modernization brings balancing changes in the code of the legacy apps in a manner that makes them apt for the modern-day cloud platform.  

  • Replace

The pattern makes app modernization faster than ever as it involves replacing outdated apps with pre-built solutions. There is no code modification and downtime. However, it has high investment demands.

Why Do Organizations Need To Modernize Apps?

Cloud application modernization has become non-negotiable because legacy apps are mostly monolithic apps. Now, the key issues with such apps are difficult scalability and mere adaptability.

These updates are difficult to achieve as all of the components are tied together and you can’t simply start just like that. Scalability is costly and tedious because operational failure in one component will lead to overall performance degrading.  

Moving ahead and staying up for the competition isn’t possible this way. When one decides to modernize the app, two things are going to happen. The first one is to break down the monolithic apps into microservices and adopt a cloud deployment model.  

Both these things are here to empower an organization unimaginably and put the concerned organization on the front foot.

Best Practices

  • Breaking down the complexities

Don’t start in one go and take everything on your shoulders immediately. Always break down the monolithic applications into smaller sections and then move forward. Work on one aspect at a time. This is possible with the help of tools like cloud APIs and containers.

  • Separate the infrastructure from the application

Before you begin with legacy modernization, you must unstrap infrastructure and applications. This ensures unrestricted application operations even when infrastructure is evolving. The concerned infrastructure components here are security configurations, data, data resources, and network configurations.

  • Have an appropriate security profile

Security is the major concern in the modern-day cyber world and when you’re modernizing legacy apps, your core focus should be on security.  

Make sure that you’ve implemented the appropriate application security practices like aggressive testing, access control, API security, and so during the entire lifecycle of an application.

  • Use modular view

It is the key to having a seamless app modernization experience. With a modular view of an app we meant having to focus only on one aspect, work on it, test it, and run it with the help of a virtualized or simulated ecosystem to check the actual world performance of the app. It makes the process infrastructure agnostic and improve your experience.

  • Break down an application into multiple components

An application is made up of versions, deployment, and application ecosystem. Identify all of them and catalog them into the appropriate category. When you have this record, it’s easy to do early and easy version updates.  Without much effort, a new version can be launched. It improves migration, testing, and planning.

Application Upgrade Process
Application Upgrade Process

Tools to Assist your Business While Modernizing your Apps

It’s a fact that modernizing your apps is going to be tough. It can be a lonely and never-ending journey. However, you can prevent it from happening by adopting the right kind of application modernization tools. Gladly, there are many. Have a look at the most preferred ones.

API management tools help in managing all sorts of cloud APIs that you’re using to restricting or rewriting

Migration tools are offered for all sorts of modernization scenarios that will automate the entire migration process and make sure that not a single piece of data leaves behind.  

Vendors like AWS and Microsoft are offering migration and modernization programs to provide through-and-through assistance. These programs offer professional migration help, required training, and all crucial resources that seamless modernization seeks.  

The cloud adoption framework is a superb tool to take on board when you’re ready to initiate a modernization procedure. The framework is offered by most of the top-listed cloud provider and aims to bring the best guidance, practices, and documented-based assistance at your disposal.

Migration readiness tools are great resources to use as they help an organization to find out how willing the internal team is to go through the process. The same sort of readiness tools is offered for apps as well as data. The tool will allow teams to check which all apps and databases are all set for migration.

Steps To Modernize Applications

  1. Step 1: Effective planning

The process starts with detailed planning wherein organizations have to work on the key goals they want to achieve and how they’re going to attain them. It’s a lengthy process as you need to delve deeper into aspects like which app requires modernizing, what’s the most appropriate approach, how much time you need, and so on. It also involves deciding the total budget of the process and who all will be part of the process.

  1. Step 2: Need-based implementation

This step involves commencing the modernization with an iterative approach. Iterative is preferred because it permits strategy and scope change without much hassle.

  1. Step 3: Streamlines operation

The process doesn’t end with successful implementation. It continues by keeping an eye on the cloud-first approach and its approach. Closely monitor the tools, and their operations, and bring effective changes immediately.

Conclusion

In the world of cut-throat competition, being updated and backed by the best technology is the best survival strategy. Things are no good with legacy systems and you are exposed to numerous cyber threats. 

Modernizing your apps can fix tons of things. It helps businesses of all sorts by endowing them with cloud-based tools & technologies that are scalable, optimized, productive, and reduces operational costs. However, be aware of the challenges the process will throw at you. Also, churning out optimal results bank heavily on the adoption of the right approach, tools, and technologies.

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