Today, efficient software is indispensable to running regular business operations. Legacy applications are outdated systems that can hinder business operations by running on obsolete technology. They can cause inefficiencies and slow progress, leading to underperformance and potential extinction if the organization cannot keep up with competitors.
Application modernization involves continuously upgrading outdated systems through various methods, including code review, data modernization, cloud migration, and UX redesign. It introduces new technologies to improve IT system capabilities and performance. Successful application modernization helps organizations replace, rearchitect, and rebuild legacy applications that no longer meet business goals and align existing software with modern technical requirements. According to a MarketsandMarkets study, the application modernization services market is forecasted to grow from USD 15.2 billion in 2022 to USD 32.8 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 16.7% during this forecast period.
Without sufficient understanding and knowledge, app modernization can impede a company’s digital transformation journey. In this guide, I will provide insights into legacy application modernization, its importance, and the benefits it offers a business. I will also address the primary challenges of modernizing apps to microservices and other modern architectures to help you achieve successful digital transformation.
What is a legacy system?
Legacy systems or applications are outdated software, technology, or method/language still in use by organizations despite newer technology available. These systems are challenging and expensive to maintain or upgrade, as vendors no longer support them. Additionally, they are incompatible with newer hardware or software, making it challenging to integrate them with other systems.
What is application modernization?
Legacy application modernization involves updating an existing system’s outdated features, infrastructure, and technology to align it with modern platforms and architecture. It is a part of the organization’s overall effort to enhance efficiency, drive innovation, and promote growth. The journey of application modernization can vary depending on the business goals, organizational challenges, and the state of the legacy system. There are multiple approaches to modernization, which does not necessarily mean complete replacement of the system, as there are options to migrate, update and optimize the legacy systems to more modern architecture.
When does an application turn into a legacy application?
Applications don’t become outdated overnight; it’s a gradual process. However, applications that don’t update or upgrade themselves face a greater risk of becoming obsolete sooner. ‘Modern’ applications become legacy systems when they face some common challenges. These challenges include:
- Difficulty in maintaining or updating
- Performance issues due to code bloat or hacked integrations
- Instability and bottlenecks in scaling
- Third-party application elements are no longer supported
- The application fails to interact with newer systems
- The system is not agile enough to satisfy emerging customer needs
- Potential security or compliance risks
Why must you modernize legacy applications?
Change is inevitable. Businesses must embrace change and modernize their legacy applications to save money, ensure security, prepare for new business opportunities, remain competitive, and, most importantly, survive. While agility has always been a priority in IT, older systems may not be equipped to handle today’s technological changes or competitive landscape. Although many legacy systems are critical for business operations, IT heads must weigh the continued cost of maintaining them against the cost and migration of application modernization.
It is also essential to look beyond cost and consider the strategic importance of modern applications in addressing challenges associated with legacy applications, including customer and employee experience. Outdated, mismatched, or missing software can impact employee satisfaction and hamper business adaptability, thus decreasing competitiveness in the long run. The decision to modernize legacy applications is complex, but meeting customer expectations is the primary driver of digital transformation.
Key technologies for application modernization
When it comes to application modernization, here are key technologies that you must be well-versed in to ensure that your modernization is on point:
- Cloud: As a part of the application modernization approach, organizations often rehost or replatform applications on the cloud. This allows them to use public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud options to take advantage of cloud computing’s benefits, such as scalability, agility, and lower cost.
- DevOps: DevOps emphasizes better collaboration between operations and development teams, promoting continuous delivery and automation, making it simpler to deploy and update applications reliably and quickly without much hassle.
- Microservices: Most legacy applications are self-contained, single-tier, monolithic applications. Agility is a primary driver of modernization, and microservices are often the preferred approach. It emphasizes services connected via APIs, allowing organizations to choose and switch between best-of-breed solutions as needed to meet changing expectations and market conditions.
- APIs: APIs allow data sharing and communication between applications, enabling easy integration of legacy applications with newer, cloud-based systems. APIs help businesses reap the benefits of cloud computing without having to replace existing systems.
- Containers: Containers provide a lightweight and versatile approach for packaging and deploying applications, simplifying moving between environments. This packaging method enables the deployment and operation of software units in the cloud, ultimately leading to growth and flexibility benefits.
- Orchestration and automation: Automation enables individual tasks to operate independently, whereas orchestration automates multiple functions as a process or workflow. Automation and orchestration enhance scaling, deployment, security, and networking efficiencies.
Five questions for enterprise before planning application modernization
If an organization is contemplating a modernization project of a legacy application, the first thing they must do is take a step back and understand the issue that the legacy application is addressing and assess whether it will resolve the problem. Ask these five questions before you plan your application modernization journey…Read More