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Application Modernization: A Leader's Guide to App Mod

Read an overview of legacy applications and the benefits of application modernization and some best practices in order to do this.
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Application modernization should be the solution, but in some cases, it ends up becoming a problem precisely because certain companies don't know how to conduct it. One of the challenges of migration is finding a balance between familiarity with legacy systems and modernization. In other words, it's important to be careful in keeping what is necessary while continuing with the needed updates to your systems.

In certain cases, we don't develop new features because of the attachment to obsolete software, either because of a lack of infrastructure or because the company cannot scale the gains it could have.

It is important to plan for application modernization. Thus, we can reduce the risks of losing data from legacy systems while the company moves toward other levels of efficiency with new applications.

With this in mind, in this article, we'll talk about application modernization and the strategies to achieve this goal. We'll also go over what a legacy application is, along with the benefits of modernization and some best practices in order to do this.

What Is Application Modernization?

The application modernization process includes the use of new languages, frameworks, or even the production environment, as is the case of software migration to the cloud.

The modernization of applications can also allow for added benefits in some important areas:

  • Increase in the reliability of the system
  • Decrease in the number of resources needed to run the application
  • Decrease in the time needed to implement new functionalities, among other benefits

The purpose of application modernization is to revitalize previously built applications (i.e., legacy applications) by adding capabilities/concepts that have been built in recent years.

What Is a Legacy Application?

Legacy systems are obsolescent platforms that have been in use within a company for many years. They're designed to have a long life span and organized in a layered model.

Because of many advances in technology, this infrastructure no longer fits the dynamics of the organization.

Although companies keep old systems for reliability, the maintenance of outdated software generates higher costs for the company, in addition to bringing many bugs, especially when trying to implement improvements in this process.

Although companies keep old systems for reliability, the maintenance of outdated software generates higher costs for the company.

The first indicator of legacy systems is the fact that their developers fail to create updates. In addition to fixing bugs from previous versions, software upgrades play a key role in increasing security mechanisms against cyber threats.

Cybercrime is getting more and more sophisticated. Therefore, maintaining a system that doesn't undergo regular security updates leaves the corporate system fully exposed to intrusion or other vulnerabilities. This can not only harm the company's ability to deliver new features; data leaks and other intrusions also tarnish its image of credibility in the market.

In a legacy environment, we may have several monolithic applications or old hardware infrastructure with extremely expensive mainframe components. These systems fail to align with new technology guidelines like scalability and ease of integration.

Another common problem with legacy systems is that their resources are limited to a few contributors. So, if an employee needs to leave the company or stops working there, it will be very difficult for other people to learn to deal with and have dominion over the system the former employee designed. Therefore, it's a demand that involves time and money.

Now that we've talked about what legacy applications are and their shortcomings, let's dive into the benefits of application modernization.

Benefits of Application Modernization

Cost Reduction

Legacy systems end up becoming a burden for companies because, in general, they operate from on-premises solutions. They're characterized by high maintenance costs, demanding a high investment capacity from the business, both in terms of resources and the time it takes for modernization. So, with modernization, we'll have an application that consumes fewer resources and that, in other words, is more efficient. Because of that, it allows us to reduce costs.

Increase in Efficiency

The efficiency of modernization reflects in everyday life, reducing the time to perform certain tasks. Indirectly, it can help improve communication between team members, making it easier to send feedback simply by “unlocking” what previously did not work well. For example, refactoring the application in order to make the code more readable and easier to understand can increase the efficiency a lot by reducing the time spent creating new features.

Less Time Spent Solving Bugs

With modernization, the developer team can focus less on fixing bugs and more on developing new functionality for the software. This time savings also translates into cost savings. With a legacy application, it's very likely that small changes to the code can generate bugs because of interdependencies or the way the code was written.

Best Practices to Achieve Application Modernization

Know the Legacy Systems You Have

It's essential to map which systems the company has and its technologies, along with the processes that involve these different types of software. Just as people know the company's products in detail, the same thing must happen with the applications. Thus, it will be easier to evaluate and create modernization strategies based on what we know about the current software.

Prioritize Projects Based on Business Value

It's also necessary to calculate the business value that each application has. By doing that, we can know where to focus when prioritizing which applications to modernize and in what order. Without this kind of approach, trying to modernize an application can become very disorganized, costly, and tiring.

Continuous Improvement of your Software

We can continuously improve the quality of the software. Modern software needs to be highly available while also rapidly evolving.

Today’s software is almost never “done” due to the need to monitor and maintain its security and ongoing service continuity. It's a process in which continuous improvement is sought, as should occur in any business process managed modernly.

The customer benefits from an increasingly better product capable of meeting their needs more fully.

We can continuously improve the quality of the software. It’s always in use and always evolving.

Strategies to Achieve Application Modernization

Microservices and Cloud Native Technology

With this technology, the client's original application, previously hosted in its data center, is modularized into small blocks, also known as microservices. That way, if any problem is identified, only one block is unavailable and can be fixed immediately. In a monolithic application, the entire system would be affected, generating total downtime.

In this process, containerization and modularization of the application allows for gains in scale. Also, there's the guarantee of high availability of services. Cloud platforms that enable microservices also enable other modern delivery patterns for cloud native applications.

The technologies available in public cloud platforms improve at a rapid pace, offering new solutions that support innovation to development and operations teams.

CI/CD Delivery Improvements

To enable cloud modernization, development and infrastructure teams need to work in partnership. It's precisely this synergy that will guarantee the speed and safety of your application delivery.

CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) method guides the delivery of applications frequently to customers, using automation in the steps of the process. CI/CD improvements are important to provide fast feedback and earlier resolution of code quality issues and security vulnerabilities.

Working to introduce modern CI/CD tooling in support of your application modernization can also provide differentiators for dev teams as well as increase reliability in the overall delivery process.

Refactoring

Refactoring is the code improvement process of turning messy code into clean code, improving its readability and efficiency without changing its external behavior. We use it to maintain well-designed software even with the passage of time and the changes that the code will undergo.

During software development, it's common for people to need to change or add new functionality to the code. This can cause the system to end up losing its integrity little by little. Each person doesn't program in the same way. And even if we design and document the software very well, developers may make some mistakes. Some of them may be repeating code and putting methods in inappropriate classes.

Refactoring software is a technique that we must use for several reasons. Some of them are as follows:

  • Improving the design
  • Making the application easier to understand
  • Helping to find bugs
  • Helping to develop features faster

In Summary

Application modernization is preparing your applications and teams to operate in both the current future generation of software delivery. We’re enabling our delivery or IT organizations to become more agile and resilient by equipping them with tools and services that have been developed to reduce complexity and increase adoption.

Application modernization will allow you to improve the quality of your applications, reduce costs, and increase the speed of delivery of features. In addition, it will increase the flexibility of the systems to enhance the growth and agility of the business. Modern applications bring gains in overall user experience, creating a high conversion and retention rate. How do you get started? A great way to find the best route to modernize and transform your application is through Liatrio's approach, with experts in practical transformation strategies.

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About Liatrio

Liatrio is a collaborative, end-to-end Enterprise Delivery Acceleration consulting firm that helps enterprises transform the way they work. We work as boots-on-the-ground change agents, helping our clients improve their development practices, react more quickly to market shifts, and get better at delivering value from conception to deployment.