In an era where technology is constantly evolving, application modernization (a.k.a. software modernization) has become a necessity for businesses to stay competitive.
It is a process of transforming legacy systems into modern, efficient, and scalable applications that can meet current and future business demands.
This journey is not just about updating technology; it's about aligning IT infrastructure with business goals, improving agility, reducing costs, and mitigating risks.
As we move deeper into this guide, we will explore the various strategies, benefits, challenges, and key steps involved in the application modernization process.
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Application modernization is the process of updating older software for new computing approaches, including modern cloud environments, mobile platforms, and business process management.
This process is essential for improving efficiency, agility, and scalability, enabling businesses to respond more effectively to changing market dynamics.
The need for application modernization arises when legacy systems—those that have been inherited from languages, platforms, and techniques earlier than current technology—fail to meet business needs.
These systems often pose significant challenges, including high operating costs, difficulty integrating with modern systems, and a lack of skilled resources for maintenance.
Application modernization is not a new concept, but its importance has been amplified in the digital age. Initially, businesses used to modernize apps primarily to reduce the costs and risks associated with outdated technology.
However, the focus has shifted over time. Today, organizations are leveraging modernization as a strategic move to increase business agility, improve customer experience, and drive innovation.
In the early days, modernization often meant a complete overhaul of existing systems - a time-consuming and risky proposition. The advent of new technologies and methodologies has since introduced more nuanced approaches.
For instance, the rise of cloud computing has enabled organizations to incrementally modernize applications by moving them to the cloud. Similarly, the adoption of microservices architecture allows for the modular modernization of large, monolithic applications.
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Modernizing these applications involves a range of strategies, from rehosting on a new infrastructure, to completely rebuilding the with modern features and capabilities.
The choice of strategy depends on the specific needs and constraints of the business, including budget, time, and available resources.
When it comes to application modernization, there isn't a one-size-fits-all strategy. The approach chosen depends on the business goals, the current state of the application, and the specific issues that need to be addressed.
The 5R (or 6R) framework is a popular approach developed by Gartner and AWS:
Each of these strategies has its trade-offs, and the best approach depends on the specific circumstances.
In some cases, a combination of these approaches might be used. For example, you might rehost some apps to achieve quick cost savings, while rearchitecting or rebuilding others to take full advantage of the cloud.
Modernizing applications often involves adopting new technologies that can help streamline the process and maximize the benefits.
It's important to remember that the choice of technologies should be guided by your specific needs and circumstances, rather than following trends.
In addition to the technologies mentioned, there are specific tools designed to assist with the process of application modernization.
These tools can help organizations manage their application portfolios, understand their current IT landscape, and plan their modernization efforts effectively.
Choosing the right tools can significantly impact the success of your application modernization efforts.
Application modernization is a strategic investment that yields significant benefits across different levels of an organization. The importance of this process is reflected in industry trends and forecasts.
According to Gartner, 85% of organizations will modernize their applications with a cloud-first approach by 2025.
Furthermore, the 2023 Gartner CIO and Technology Executive Survey results show 46% of organizations will increase their spending on application modernization, and 50% will increase their spending on cloud platforms in 2023.
“Many organizations are dealing with bloated application portfolios with high technical debt, risk and cost. In such a case, a modernization initiative with additional funding is required to “cure” the application portfolio from intolerable risks and obstacles.” [Source: Gartner]
Here's how application modernization impacts development teams, IT, and business leaders:
While the benefits of application modernization are clear, it's important to note that the process requires careful planning and execution.
It's not a one-size-fits-all solution, and what works for one organization may not work for another. Therefore, it's crucial to develop a clear app modernization roadmap that aligns with your business goals and capabilities.
While the benefits of app modernization are significant, the process is not without its challenges.
Some of the common obstacles that organizations may encounter during their modernization journey are:
Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of application modernization make it a worthwhile endeavor for most organizations.
With careful planning (next section), the right skills and tools, and a clear understanding of your business needs, these challenges can be effectively managed.
Application modernization is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. Here's a high-level guide to help you navigate this journey:
Before you can begin modernizing, you need to understand your current application landscape. This involves assessing your existing applications in terms of their business value, technical condition, and other relevant factors.
LeanIX helps you gain a clear view of your application inventory and identify potential targets for modernization.
Start by defining what you hope to achieve through modernization. This could be anything from improving operational efficiency to enabling new business capabilities. Also, determine the scope of your modernization effort. Will you modernize all your applications or just a select few?
LeanIX can help here by providing a comprehensive view of your IT landscape, helping you identify which applications would benefit most from modernization.
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Develop an application modernization roadmap. This should include timelines, resources required, potential risks, and mitigation strategies.
LeanIX can support this step by providing tools for scenario planning and roadmap visualization, helping you create a clear and actionable transformation plan.
Begin the modernization process according to your plan. This will typically involve developing new applications or modifying existing ones, testing, data migration, and deployment.
LeanIX can assist by providing a collaborative platform where all stakeholders can track progress and coordinate their efforts.
Once your modern applications are live, it's important to evaluate whether they meet your original goals and expectations.
LeanIX can help here by providing tools for architecture modeling and analysis, helping you assess whether your new architecture aligns with your business objectives.
The final step is to execute your plan, track the progress of your modernization efforts, and report on the results.
LeanIX can support this step by providing a centralized platform for tracking and reporting and demonstrating the value to stakeholders.
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