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Application Modernization and its Challenges | Quick Guide

Navdeep Singh Gill | 26 Feb 2024

How to get started with Application Modernization?

Application Modernization in Today's Digital Landscape

Application Modernisation refers to the change specifically modernising the features, platform, internal and external infrastructure or anything related to the software or application. This process updates or rebuilds the present architecture to be effective in the upcoming or present modern environments. Opening doors to never seen before benefits and growth. 

As good as it sounds, severe complex issues are to be addressed and resolved to achieve application modernisation. Issues like spaghetti code, inflexible architecture, inability to scale are faced while undergoing this process. Let us get an in-depth review of this process.

What is a Legacy Application?

Legacy typically refers to an application's monolithic architecture. Single tier application where all the pieces are built on one platform, usually with one language. This does not mean that legacy applications are small; they can be big as an elephant, making it difficult to scale as per the requirements. One single bug can affect the working of an entire application. 

Legacy systems are outdated technologies but are critical in day to day operations. Rolling out a minor new feature or version can be as big as rolling out the whole application again. Legacy applications are also referred to as Monolithic applications, which consist of a single codebase where all components such as authorisation, business logic, databases, messaging service, etc., are combined on a single platform. These systems have become fundamental to the working of an application and the organisation; thus, replacing them is not always easy. 

Legacy applications and infrastructure are becoming unsustainable and non-cost-effective in the cloud-native world. Checkout, Key Aspects of Infrastructure Modernization

Modernizing Legacy Applications

Modernizing legacy applications may be beneficial for several reasons, including:

1. Maintaining Legacy Software: The Cost and Complexity

Much of a company's IT budget goes toward maintaining legacy systems. In addition to being complex, maintaining outdated software is highly costly. As a result, these systems no longer meet the business needs or perform certain functions they were built to perform. Technology and processes have advanced rapidly since the development of these archaic systems, making it difficult to maintain them.

Furthermore, finding individuals with relevant skill sets with experience in creating and maintaining outdated systems becomes increasingly more work. Consequently, many companies are forced to outsource dedicated IT support and pay exorbitant salaries to personnel who could help maintain the legacy software. Instead of spending vast amounts on maintaining legacy software, businesses should consider modernizing it to reduce costs and complexity.

Businesses should consider modernizing legacy applications to reduce maintenance costs and complexity.

2. Enhance Performance With Modern Technology

By modernizing legacy software, you can identify opportunities and threats associated with the existing technology. Businesses can combine what is still relevant from their existing software and build something new using application modernization services instead of replacing their old system and building a new one from scratch. Your legacy system can be improved by enhancing it with modern technology and eliminating inefficiencies and bottlenecks.

Companies can address productivity issues by automating and integrating IT and business solutions. By increasing productivity, businesses can perform operations with less manual labor, lower costs, and fewer downtimes.

3. Modernize Legacy Applications to Prevent Security Threats

Security threats are more likely to affect legacy systems. You will no longer get security patches whenever the developer stops supporting or updating the software. A significant challenge has also become disaster recovery and backup. Using old SSL and Java exploits, your network will be more vulnerable to malicious hackers.

Therefore, your company and its users might be at risk of data theft or a hack of the entire system. The modernization of legacy software allows businesses to enhance functionality and improve security. Cybercrimes can be identified and prevented with newer technology applications built with advanced security measures. You can also reduce the risks of cybersecurity threats by updating your security patches regularly and using cutting-edge SSL encryption.

Technologies for Application Modernization 

Application modernization involves updating and improving existing software applications to leverage modern technologies, enhance performance, scalability, security, and user experience. Here are some key technologies commonly used for application modernization: 

1. Cloud Computing: Cloud platforms like AWS (Amazon Web Services), Azure (Microsoft Azure), and GCP (Google Cloud Platform) provide scalable infrastructure and cloud-based services that allow organizations to move legacy workloads to the cloud for greater scalability, flexibility, and cost effectiveness, and access to a variety of managed services, including databases, analytics and machine learning. 

2. Containerization: Docker, Kubernetes, and other containerization technologies offer a lightweight and mobile solution for packaging, deploying, and managing applications and dependencies. By breaking down legacy applications into smaller, easier-to-manage parts, containers improve scalability, utilization of resources, and deployment speed. 

3. Microservices Plan: Microservices plan incorporates breaking down strong applications into humbler, openly coupled organizations that can be unreservedly made, sent, and scaled. This basic approach propels smoothness, versatility, and flexibility, allowing organizations to modernize inheritance applications by refactoring them into microservices-based structures. 

4. APIs (Application Programming Interfaces): APIs engage steady integration and communication between divergent systems and organizations, empowering interoperability and versatility. By revealing APIs, organizations can modernize estate applications by engaging them to associated with cutting edge cloud organizations, third-party applications, and convenient contraptions, developing improvement and collaboration. 

5. DevOps Practices: DevOps sharpens combine computer program change (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) to robotize and streamline the program transport lifecycle. Grasping DevOps sharpens engages organizations to modernize estate applications by moving forward collaboration, enlivening movement, and extending agility through tireless integration, diligent movement (CI/CD), and system as code (IaC). 

6. Serverless Computing: Serverless computing stages like AWS Lambda, Purplish blue Capacities, and Google Cloud Capacities enable organizations to develop and pass on applications without directing fundamental system. By leveraging serverless computing, organizations can modernize estate applications by offloading operational overhead, advancing flexibility, and reducing costs through pay-per-use evaluating models. 

7. Modern Programming Languages and Frameworks: Accepting display day programming tongues such as Python, JavaScript (Node.js), and Kotlin, at the side frameworks like React, Exact, and Spring Boot, can offer help organizations modernize inheritance applications by making strides architect productivity, code reasonability, and execution. 

8. Low-Code/No-Code Platforms: Low-code and no-code headway stages engage organizations to rapidly develop and pass on applications with irrelevant hand-coding, utilizing visual meddle and pre-built components. These stages can animate the modernization of estate applications by locks in commerce clients and citizen engineers to form and rehash on applications rapidly. 

9. Security and Compliance Tools: Modernization endeavours should prioritize security and compliance by coordination propels such as identity and get to organization (IAM), encryption, security checking, and compliance computerization into the application headway and sending shapes. 

As technology continues to evolve, the way we develop applications has also transformed. Cloud native development has emerged as a modern approach that offers numerous benefits for organizations looking to stay ahead in the digital era. Embrace Cloud Native Approach for building Applicaitons

What is the strategy for Modernizing Legacy Applications?

It is important to note that the appropriate strategy will vary depending on the specific needs and constraints of the organization and the application. It's good to assess the current state, goals, and constraints to decide on the best strategy. 

  • Encapsulate 
  • Replatform 
  • Refactor 
  • Redesign 
  • Rethink 

1. Encapsulate: This method isolates the core functionality of a legacy system into modular components or services. One can create a layer of abstraction that shields the rest of the system from its complexity by enclosing these features thereby facilitating the integration of new technologies and allowing future updates to be carried out without affecting the entire system.

2. Re-platform: Replatforming involves the transfer of a legacy system to a new platform or infrastructure, while retaining its existing functionalities and features. It could be that the system is moved to a cloud, upgraded to a new operating system or switched from one hardware model to another. The objective of replatforming is to increase system performance, scale and stability while minimising the impact on business operations.

3. Refactor:  Refactoring aims to improve maintainability, readability and extensibility without changing the external behaviour of a legacy system by restructuring its existing codebase. This involves identifying and eliminating redundant code, improving the organization of codes as well as adopting modern coding standards and best practice. Refactoring will help to bring down technology debt, increase the productivity of developers and pave the way for further improvements and optimizations.

4. Redesign: To address its specific limitations and inefficiencies, it is necessary to redesign and rebuild a legacy system. Restructuring the architecture of the system, designing user interfaces and adopting new technologies and frameworks may be part of this process. The aim of the redesign is to modernise the system architecture, improve its performance, scale and usability, in line with today's business needs and industry trends.

5. Rethink: Rethink incorporates fundamentally getting to the existing arrange and convenience of the system. In setting to modernization, it suggests reassessing the designing, recognizing out of date sharpens, and considering the elective more capable courses of action. Rethink is noteworthy to ensure that the modernized adjustment meets current prerequisites and utilize advanced progresses and best sharpens.

Why is Application Modernization needed?

As we know, two of the major setbacks of a monolithic system/application is that it is challenging to upgrade, challenging as well as expensive to scale. Here are some other major issues faced in a monolithic architecture are -

  • Vulnerable security
  • Incompatible
  • Not very cost-effective
  • Customer Experience
  • Technical specifications

1. Vulnerable security

The inevitable old application does not always receive upgrades to fulfil today's security requirements. This leads to loose ends and compromised security on all layers.

2. Incompatible

Applications built on monolith architecture are usually standalone and not open to integrations. This limits the use case and flexibility. Today being compatible with other applications in the market can directly lead to growth in business.

3. Not very Cost-Effective

One must think that a monolithic architecture is built as a single-tier application, making it less expensive to scale, but this becomes less true over time. Supports and updates for older systems are usually expensive and can even result in conflicts because of one codebase.

4. Customer Experience

All of the above-mentioned points directly affect the customer experience. Not receiving timely updates is one of the major ones. One happy customer can lead other customers in the bucket but this can also happen oppositely.

5. Technical Specifications

The digital and tech industry is growing every hour, taking leaps a day, and legacy applications could even date back to the 2000s. Not being compatible with the latest hardware makes the application obsolete.

Legacy applications and infrastructure are becoming unsustainable and non-cost-effective in the cloud-native world. Click to explore about our, Stateful and Stateless Applications

How to get started with Application Modernization? 

1. Current State Access: Start by conducting a comprehensive appraisal of your existing applications, foundation, and innovation stack. Recognize bequest frameworks, their conditions, and ranges for change. Assess variables such as versatility, execution, security, and compliance to decide the reasonableness for modernization.

2. Definition of Modernization Goals: Clearly characterize your targets and objectives for application modernization. Decide what you point to realize through modernization, whether it's moving forward nimbleness, lessening costs, improving client encounter, or leveraging modern innovations. Set up quantifiable measurements and key execution pointers (KPIs) to track advance and assess victory.

3. Prioritizing Applications: Prioritize applications based on components such as exchange regard, specialized complexity, and potential for upgrade. Recognize essential systems that require provoke modernization and those that can be tended to a while later. Consider factors such as ROI, influence on commerce operations, and course of action with imperative goals when prioritizing applications for modernization.

4. Opting for Modernization Approach: Select the first reasonable modernization approach based on the characteristics of each application and your organization's targets. Common approaches join rehosting (lift and move), refactoring, rearchitecting, replatforming, or supplanting estate systems with commercial off-the-shelf (Bunks) courses of action. Consider factors such as taken a toll, time-to-market, danger, and influence on exchange coherence when choosing the approach.

5. Develop a Modernization Roadmap: Make a point-by-point guide laying out the grouping of exercises, breakthroughs, and timelines for modernizing each application. Break down the modernization prepare into reasonable stages, beginning with pilot ventures or proof-of-concepts to approve the chosen approach. Characterize parts and obligations, apportion assets, and set up administration components to guarantee successful execution of the guide.

6. Select Modernization Technologies: Recognize the advances and devices required to bolster your modernization endeavours. Consider components such as compatibility with existing frameworks, versatility, security, and merchant bolster when selecting modernization innovations. Use cloud computing, containerization, microservices design, DevOps hones, and other present-day instruments and systems to streamline the modernization handle and accomplish wanted results.

7. Build Internal Capabilities: Contribute to building inside capabilities and ability to bolster application modernization activities. Give preparing and upskilling openings for your advancement groups, modelers, and IT staff to familiarize them with advanced innovations, best hones, and strategies. Energize collaboration, information sharing, and experimentation to cultivate a culture of persistent learning and development inside the organization.

8. Manage Change and Communication: Compelling alter administration and communication are fundamental for fruitful application modernization. Lock in partners at all levels of the organization, counting commerce pioneers, IT groups, and end-users, to communicate the basis, benefits, and effect of modernization endeavours. Address concerns, request criticism, and include partners in decision-making to guarantee arrangement and relieve resistance to alter.

9. Iterate and Improve: Compelling alter administration and communication are fundamental for fruitful application modernization. Lock in partners at all levels of the organization, counting commerce pioneers, IT groups, and end-users, to communicate the basis, benefits, and effect of modernization endeavours. Address concerns, request criticism, and include partners in decision-making to guarantee arrangement and relieve resistance to alter.

Challenges of Application Modernization and their Solutions 

1. High Cloud Migration Cost: Moving inheritance applications to the cloud can cause vital costs, tallying development costs, participation costs for cloud organizations, and advancing operational costs. Moreover, organizations may get to contribute to upgrading or upgrading applications to totally utilize cloud-native capabilities, energize counting to the by and large taken a toll. The tall early on theory required for cloud development can be a basic boundary for organizations, especially those with confined budgets or cash related imperatives.

2. Lack of Skilled Professionals: Application modernization regularly requires skill in cloud propels, cutting edge programming tongues, DevOps sharpens, and other specialized aptitudes. Be that because it may, there's frequently a lack of talented specialists with experience in these zones. Organizations may fight to find or bear qualified capacity, driving to delays or risky utilization of modernization exercises. The require of skilled specialists can as well anticipate the determination of cutting-edge developments and best sharpens, confining the practicality of modernization endeavours.

3. Risk and Conflicts: Application modernization exercises can display perils and clashes due to the complexity of inheritance systems, conditions between components, and potential unsettling influences on commerce operations. There may be challenges in ensuring compatibility, data judgment, and regulatory compliance amid the modernization plan. Additionally, clashing needs, resistance to modify, and social boundaries interior the organization can square development and make contact between accomplices included inside the modernization exertion.

4. Cost-Intensive Approach: Modernizing inheritance applications is routinely a time-consuming and resource-intensive handle. It requires seriously examination, organizing, and execution to ensure compelling development, integration, and optimization of the modernized applications. The costs related with upgrading or refactoring inheritance code, actualizing unused propels, and planning staff can quickly incorporate up, making application modernization a over the top endeavour for organizations, especially those with confined resources or competing needs.

5. Vendor Lock-In Situation: Organizations may confront seller lock-in circumstances when they ended up intensely subordinate on a particular cloud supplier or innovation merchant for their modernization endeavours. This reliance can restrain adaptability, increment costs, and ruin advancement by making it troublesome to switch to elective arrangements or use competing advances. Merchant lock-in can too posture dangers related to benefit disturbances, changes in estimating or terms of benefit, and need of interoperability with other frameworks or stages.

What are the Best Practices for Modernizing Applications?

There are several strategies and best practices that organizations can use to modernize their applications. The following are some best practices for application modernization:

1. Embrace Microservices

Your application can be made more scalable and agile by adopting a microservices approach. An environment that uses microservices separates each process into a separate service with its logic and database. As a result, services are independent and scalable, making updating or changing them more accessible.

2. Identify Applications that need to be Modernized

To modernize all applications, it is essential to identify them. It is important to sort these according to their priorities and requirements once selected. We must then understand the risks associated with modernizing each application and develop an approach for minimizing those risks. The value of the modernized app should be weighed against the time and costs associated with its modernization. It is viable to proceed with modernization if it is expected to improve agility, scalability, reliability, and performance.

3. Take Advantage of Cloud Computing

Modernizing apps means something other than automatically moving them to the cloud. It is essential to consider how much data will be involved, what kind of workflows will be required, and how devices and the cloud will communicate.

4. Keep Track of Performance Metrics

To track the performance of applications at the code level, it is essential to design performance metrics. Monitoring includes all aspects of the infrastructure, including the cloud, databases, and networks. Identifying problems before they arise and improving areas allows you to prevent them from occurring. 

Holistic Approach to Application Modernization

Beyond a doubt, it is evident that organizations need faster operations faster services in today's dynamic landscape. In contrast, legacy products tend to be more costly, demanding more grind. Modernization offers new and different opportunities to organisations, leveraging new IT architecture. The best part is that it can be done according to and within the parameters set by the organisation. Thus, organisations can achieve the digital transformation they desire by modernising their legacy application by considering the approaches mentioned above and challenges.