Modernizing legacy applications has emerged as a top priority for CIOs in 2022. Application (app) modernization begins with a comprehensive assessment of an organization’s application estate, which includes cloud migration & data modernization. Although the process can be complex, new trends like hyper-automation, micro frontend modernizations, etc., can make the process easier and more reliable. App modernization is defined as taking existing or legacy applications and updating their platform infrastructure, internal architecture, and features. Much of the discussion is focused on monolithic & on-premise applications that are moved towards cloud and realize patterns, namely microservices.
A joint survey by the Red Hat & Conveyor community on 600 people (including the U.S, U.K, & APAC countries) found that app modernization could mean different things. For the U.S, it’s about using microservice architecture in the cloud. The U.S is further along than others as they have gone far into the process as compared to other countries as the companies in this region are more focused in determining the right approach and figuring out the best way to implement modernization across applications. Also, companies here adopt microservice architecture in the cloud which catalyzes digital transformation for businesses of all sizes in terms of agility, flexibility, portability, and deployability. Whereas, companies in UK & APAC are more aligned towards improving CI/CD pipeline.
App modernization, the catchall across the industry, depends on 7 “R” s, which brings all scalability and elasticity of application to the cloud.
The 7 “R” s of App Modernization:
- Rehosting, also known as “Lift & Shift,” transfers the app’s underlying resources to the cloud from the on-premise data center.
- Refactor: Re-architect application as cloud-native, i.e., containerizing workload or moving them to a serverless architecture.
- Re-Architecture: Monolithic legacy apps are re-architected, following the microservice model. Decomposes monolithic apps into service collection layers to be deployed, built, and managed independently. This enhances time to market, business agility, customer experience (CX), and innovation. This includes Serverless, Microservice, Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and modern DevOps practices.
- Replace: It means replacing the legacy application with a cloud-based solution. It applies execution of the most updated version without requiring updates, improved security, cost-saving, and shifting the burden outside business entities.
- Retain: It’s a strategy where only those applications are moved to the cloud, which makes sense, and the others are retained.
- Replatform: Optimizing an organization’s existing cloud platforms for realizing tangible benefits is what the re-platforming strategy employs.
- Retire: This means removing applications with obsolete components and redundant functionalities. It helps to optimize existing codebase and applications.
IDC’s DX report states, by 2022, 70% of all organizations will have accelerated the use of digital technologies, transforming existing business processes to optimize for the customer experience, employee productivity, and business resiliency. Within IT, digital transformation includes modernizing legacy systems and processes to increase efficiencies and infuse greater intelligence across the entire business. Application modernization though being a technology-driven initiative, will enhance the business benefits as per the current & futuristic goals. A failure to modernize legacy systems can hold an organization back.
- Application Assessment: Application assessment is essential to determine which apps must be maintained in the legacy environment and which ones should be migrated. It lays the foundation of automated & efficient transformation.
- Enlisting the Vital Apps: Enlisting applications and high-value assets will benefit business enterprises in terms of scalability, security, & performance.
- Measurement of performance Improvements: After the modernization phase, it’s vital to track the apps & infrastructure to the code level for different errors and problems within the network.
Modernization approaches often fail due to certain reasons. The top reasons cited by some surveys were “failure to accurately set expectations,” “lack of intelligence tools,” and “prioritization from management,” . The best course of action that executives and leaders can take is to align around a goal to help everyone build a business case for a project, to quantify the expected business outcome.
Organizations need to keep up with the trends mentioned as follows for faster implementation.
Trends in Application Modernization to Accelerate Data-driven Organizations
Rewriting many applications as a large part of the migration is a daunting task that might extend as a multi-year migration project. However, adopting specific trends will help organizations adopt new database technology rapidly. Let’s check the trends:
- Micro Front-end Modernization: In this micro-level effort, individual components and technologies are changed to ensure faster modernization. It’s all about reusability via minimal features that serve as UI for apps and websites that bring speedier change.
To shorten the development time, teams reuse application platform elements from other app modernization projects as some projects share everyday needs and DNA. This reduces cost as this allows to resume time-consuming, complex, and costly platform elements from the ground up. Without diluting customer experience (CX), it brings frontend development efforts in-line with new-age architectures.
Approaches of Micro Front End Modernization
- Using Self-contained Application: Not relying on common runtime, codebases, & resources.
- Using Naming Convention Strategy: Clarify ownership through namespace to ensure clear hierarchies of events.
- Using Native Browsers Rather Than Custom APIs: Use browser events for communication with frontend functions.
- Hyper Automation: Organizations will require more IT and business processes automation as a part of their digital transformation journey. The hyper-automation process enables organizations to rapidly identify and automate processes with the use of technologies like RPA (robotic process automation), LCAP (low code application platforms), AI (artificial intelligence), and virtual assistants. Gartner predicts that by 2024 organizations will adopt at least 3 out of 20 process-agnostic types of software for hyper-automation. Technologies to automate content ingestion, such as signature verification tools, OCR (optical character recognition), conversational AI, and natural language technology (NLT), will be in high demand. By combining these hyper-automation technologies with redesigned processes, organizations could reduce operational costs by 30%.
- Composability & Confluence: Composability is a system redesign principle in which enterprises select and combine various components according to specific user needs. This applies to the entire technology stack and business processes. The process is challenging but out-weighs specific challenges:
- It provides a highly flexible & agile IT model and a high degree of time-to-market improvement.
- Provides a high degree of reuse capability, reducing duplicacies of applications & data.
- Promotes end-to-end ownership and continuous improvement culture.
By confluence, we mean business and IT running through input & output integration tools at the heart of composability. This motivates the enterprises to build a highly agile and integrated path to legacy modernization across enterprises to drive improved business outcomes.
- Business Process Automation (BPA): It’s about modernizing the application workload and data with the help of automation software. This aims to automate repeatable multistep business transactions, regain control over business processes, boost customer satisfaction, etc.
BPA solutions are customized for specific organizations, typically integrated into data systems or connected to APIs. BPA handles more complex tasks than RPA, but both use AI & NLP to interpret better unstructured data like emails, images, and audio files.
- Shift Towards Hybrid Cloud: Greater business value can be generated by hybrid cloud. A modern infrastructure designed with an open hybrid strategy at its core is critical for accessing and modernizing existing applications as it provides more data deployment options with this model. According to the 2021 hybrid cloud report by NTT, 93.7% of organizations agreed that hybrid clouds meet current business demands. It offers greater flexibility to move workload between private & public cloud based on computing requirements. In short, it offers a seamless pool of resources that support modern application strategies & an organization’s digital transformation efforts.
Cloud Computing with Open Source Platform Will Accelerate Modernization Journey
Adaptability and flexibility have become today’s needs as the business environment is becoming more dynamic & unpredictable. As an imperative, businesses need to redesign their product and services, processes continuously, and people as legacy applications and systems hold organizations from being future-ready.
Rather than looking for lengthy processes, organizations must adopt the practice of micro-changes. Also, they must be willing to align their non-disruptive strategy across several layers of their operating model like user experience, application integration, and digital infrastructure.
Organizations must carefully assess their current state and choose the best approach with aligned technology to accomplish business objectives and reach their full potential. What used to be a project-by-project methodology with periodic software updates has been replaced by DevOps practice. Using cloud solutions with open source platforms will be an imperative for modernization in the future that will provide elasticity and reliability.
Determining the budget & timeline for the project, knowing the current state of the application, which application needs to be migrated, etc., can be a challenge. Hence, working with partners like Techment Technology will ensure that your application modernization journey is successful.