Application modernisation is the process of taking existing legacy applications and modernising their platform infrastructure, internal architecture, and/or features.
What is Application Modernisation?
When we talk about application modernisation today, the discussion tends to focus on monolithic on-premises applications (often these are outdated and maintained using waterfall development processes). While these traditional development processes are too slow and complicated to iterate, the key is how these can be brought into cloud architecture and release patterns, namely microservices DevOps.
By tackling the monolith and breaking it down into microservices DevOps frameworks, you can increase the velocity of new feature deployments, enhance efficiencies and re-imagine existing workflows.
Application Modernisation essential for your business?
There are two traditional limiting issues from traditional IT, with the combination of these factors driving the desire to modernise monolithic applications.
Firstly they are difficult to update, and secondly they are difficult and expensive to scale.
Difficulty updating monolithic applications
Architectural reasons underpin the difficulty of updating monolithic apps. If all of an application’s components are shipped together, adding features becomes problematic and costly given the overhead of complexity and integration challenges.
Problems with scaling
This also plays into the difficulty of scaling. If just one component of an app is facing load and performance challenges, it can become necessary to scale up the entire app only to serve the most-demanding single component. This promises considerable wastage, time and expense.
Choosing the right approach
Having run a full audit of your existing applications and by understanding the potential value of modernisation it is important to choose the right approach. This could consist of:
- Monolith to microservices: this involves refactoring and breaking a monolithic application into a collection of small, loosely coupled microservices.
- Cloud migration: restructuring the application to take better advantage of cloud modes, often by leveraging containers. This could consist of private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud.
- Exposing functionality via APIs: leaving an application in place but exposing its functions securely via APIs. This is based on integration rather than migration, enabling new cloud native applications to take advantage of the capabilities of existing systems and data.
Understanding the key technologies to facilitate your application modernisation strategy
An essential aspect of a strategic approach to application modernisation is to understand and opt for the best technologies to facilitate your journey to the cloud.
Private, hybrid and multi-cloud
Of course, the public cloud will be a critical part of your application modernisation strategy, but that doesn’t mean that private, hybrid and multi-cloud strategies don’t have their part to play. In fact they are essential for security, latency and architectural reasons.
If for example you aren’t ready to go straight to the public cloud, other cloud models can help solve any complexities with where certain workloads need to be housed depending on their unique characteristics.
This is vital for the future of your organisation. Distributing, controlling and analysing the APIs that connect applications and data across your business and across clouds is fundamental for the growth, flexibility and agility of your business.
Without structured API management you simply wouldn’t be able to respond to the rapid changes in consumer demand or have the agility to grow and scale in line with market forces. Learn more about API management and the essential metrics for success.
The benefit of microservices architecture
When an application is modernised to a microservices architecture, often using container technology, components will therefore be smaller and loosely coupled. This brings the distinct advantage of deploying and scaling independently of each other. For many, this is the true value of application modernisation.
Key Application Modernisation challenges
While the cost and complexity of updating monolithic applications is a key driver, these same factors can also prove key challenges and barriers impacting your approach to application modernisation.
What about a simple lift and shift approach?
Simply lifting and shifting all legacy applications to the cloud is difficult to justify. This is especially the case when you have already made a significant investment in on-premises infrastructure.
In addition to this, the true value of modernisation is found in restructuring the application to take better advantage of cloud models.
Why lift and shift when it doesn’t offer a strategic advantage?
The key to success
Take stock of your existing IT infrastructure. And most importantly question where you will get the most value from application modernisation. Evaluate how critical the application is to the customer experience and the future of your business.
Taking an inventory of what you have is arguably the most obvious place to start. Qualify each of these applications in terms of the difficulty and cost of modernisation, with the value of modernisation.
Those that are high value and low effort to modernise, will be a no-brainer. This is where you should begin your application modernisation project. The difficult decisions come with those that present significant challenges but would offer crucial value if modernised.
But remember, it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing strategy from the very beginning. The project can be done strategically and in stages.
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