TL:DR: Do you know how many applications your company has? Or how many are actively used? Where are they hosted (cloud or local)? Who is using which ones? And of course, are they secure? 

Application modernization and migration is crucial to stay competitive, meet the demand of your customers, improve application performance, enhance security, and reduce operational costs. 

Mastering the art of application modernization requires forethought, so let’s begin.

Chances are your enterprise has more applications that you can count. Some are housed in on-prem data centers, some are housed in a private or public cloud, and others are legacy applications written for outdated operating systems or hardware platforms.

Companies are ready to embrace the concept of application modernization. IT  leaders recognize that the application modernization improves productivity, speeds innovation, and enables scalability. Many would likely say that the time and effort was worth it, and that the applications they modernized so far were critical to their businesses.

Gartner predicts cloud spending will surpass traditional IT spending by 2025, with more than half (51%) of IT spending in the cloud (compared to 41% in 2022). This migration to the cloud is also driving software modernization projects.

“Flying to the cloud” doesn’t necessarily mean that the lift and shift included the proper security measures. Data from a recent 451 Research (S&P Global) study showed that only 22% of companies surveyed actually implemented application security in cloud environments.

Enterprises with tens to perhaps hundreds of applications housed in different hosting environments are finding application modernization daunting, even though they appreciate that the end result will make their enterprises more attractive to customers.

Yet the barriers to application modernization remain:

  • Business disruption
  • Multiple and disparate operating models without cloud capacity
  • Tightly coupled development and delivery
  • Inflexible architecture
  • Inability to scale
  • Skill shortage
  • Inability to scale

Choosing the right migration and modernization partner ranks as a fairly common challenge to application modernization.

How do you bridge the gap between the organizational need for application modernization and the barriers that hold you back from implementing the process? 

Let’s start with the actual process of application modernization and what it takes to get the ball rolling.

What is Application Modernization

Application modernization is a process of taking existing legacy applications and modernizing their platform infrastructure, internal architecture, and/or features.

Much of the discussion around application modernization today is focused on converting from monolithic on-premises applications to cloud architecture and release patterns, namely microservices.

But modernization of applications without giving thought to the “why” or the ROI can backfire. Conversely, applications that might actually benefit from transitioning to the cloud and re-architecture are so heavily connected to existing systems that the complexity of modernization might outweigh the upside.

Monolithic and microservice applications have their own valid use cases and it’s important to consider whether and how migration to microservices impact your business model.

Monolithic vs Microservices: Migration for All? 

Not necessarily. Let’s start with a core understanding of each of these architectures, their use cases, and the pros and cons for each one.

Monolithic systems essentially mean that there are a number of interconnected software programs that are so tightly coupled and interdependent that a change in one means a change in all. One large application with associated components means that you might have to shut down the entire system for a period of time just to execute code changes in one component.

Managing monolithic systems is cumbersome and they are difficult to scale, yet they do have their own effective use cases. An ecommerce SaaS application is a good example of a monolithic application. It might contain a web server, a load balancer, a catalog service that services up product images, an ordering system, a payment function, and a shipping component. Customers hardly notice that they are complex to manage.

And there are certainly advantages to monolithic applications. They are easier to implement with simpler business logic and no component orchestration. There are no APIs needed so they have higher performance. Testing is easier since it is a single unit. And deployment only requires a script that loads and launches.

Microservices, as its name implies, is a series of smaller module-like applications with specialized functions, detailed interfaces, deployed independently, loosely coupled, and tied together through application integration. With microservice applications, you might use SaaS, on-premises databases, and in-house-developed applications. You can change code in any of those applications without affecting the performance in any other environment.

Microservice architecture has its own challenges. The distributed nature of the environment requires complex network connections and it can be quite demanding and time-consuming to map the architecture such that outside assistance is often needed. One of the best known use cases for microservices are video streaming services which rely on cloud-based distribution that are horizontally scalable.

The advantages of microservice applications include scalability – containers let you change only one system component without touching any other component. They are highly reliable so that the failure in one will not cause malfunction in another which ensures continuous delivery of service. Build and test can be done on only certain elements without disrupting any other components. And finally, modules can be repurposed for other tasks at any time.

Decisions, Decisions

The key to successful application modernization comes down to strategy and picking application modernization projects where the benefits of cloud, speed, performance, scale, and new feature development are ones that offer a clear path to improved customer experience and ROI.

Where do you start? 

It’s simple. Just follow this checklist:

  • Inventory: Create a list of every application you have, regardless of how often it is used or how old it is.
  • Benchmarks: Create criteria that measure the ease or difficulty of modernization
  • Customer input: How critical is the application to customer experience?
  • Time: How much downtime do you need and how will customers and business units be impacted during that period?
  • Resources: What kind of human or tech resources do you need and where do you get them from? In-house or outsourced?
  • Value/ROI: Conduct market analysis to evaluate the potential increased value if modernized and your ability to scale in the future.

How Ibexlabs Can Help You Migrate and Modernize

The trickiest decisions will come down to the high-value apps that are difficult to move. It doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing approach on day one. There are ways to modernize yet reduce risk and cost while still moving in the right direction.

Ibexlabs’s 4 step process can help you migrate and modernize small to complex applications:

  • Assess: Optimize your inventory and develop strategies and recommendations for modernization
  • Architect: Map out the end-to-end architecture based on functional and non-functional requirements
  • Develop: Accelerate development and integration with existing systems
  • Deploy: Automate service provisioning and deployment.

Take, for example, monolithic N-Tier applications on-prem applications like  MSSQL, Oracle, and Web pages or forms.

We will work with you to identify the monolithic applications whose journey to microservices will give you the most bang for your buck.

Once we isolate the applications with the best ROI for modernization, we will work with you to get your infrastructure cloud-ready (e.g., IaaS AWS and security toolsets).

Together, we will create the architecture that best optimizes the cloud experience.

And finally we develop the microservices architecture (e.g., Kubernetes, AWS, Cloudwatch) that makes modernization of your monolithic applications seamless.

Our streamlined process helps you achieve results at breakneck speed.

Key to microservice migration is continuity. We transformed the build process from project-based to continuous delivery and by combining development and operations teams, we release robust and security-compliant software faster.

Continuous integration, continuous iterative delivery, continuous automated deployment, and continuous regression testing are at the heart of our agile-focused process.

Ibexlabs has proven experience and know-how to quickly build and deploy to the cloud, so that your ROI is guaranteed.

If you are looking to start your modernization journey, contact Ibexlabs.