By Vanessa Towers and Cecil Dearborne
As a business or technology leader, modernization is a topic that's always on your mind. You know the stronger your digital capabilities are, the better. For your organization to quickly adapt to change, accelerate time to market for new services and make the most of fresh, cost-effective cloud-based capabilities, modernization is the key to success.
The problem? Modernization can be an extremely daunting and often confusing task. Has your team explored options for modernization and come up with exciting ideas, only to see their plans grind to a halt due to complex legacy monoliths?
The good news is you're not alone. In fact, modernization is one of the biggest hurdles standing between a vast number of organizations and a better digital future. But you can overcome it by starting small with highly targeted transformation projects designed to prove the value of broader enterprise modernization.
An MVP to Enterprise Modernization
If your organization doesn’t have the resources or buy-in to dive into an enterprise-wide modernization, Application Modernization, an essential building block to larger modernization strategies, enables you to start small and improve workflow around a single app to deliver measurable value to the business.
This starting point can support your more comprehensive modernization journey by:
- Enabling experimentation without committing a massive volume of resources, offering an iterative path forward.
- Proving the value of modernization and giving you vital evidence of its positive impacts for building engaging business cases for future transformation.
- Delivering fast results for the applications you depend on most while helping you improve responsiveness, agility and delivery speeds where needed.
What is Application Modernization?
If you asked ten people what Application Modernization is, you'd likely get ten different answers. Many organizations claim to be doing Application Modernization, but each approach can vary widely.
We define Application Modernization as the process of reimagining an existing application to achieve a cloud native architecture that’s better aligned with current business needs.
Often in legacy migration, we see a common default to maintain feature parity with the old that can occur when modernization is framed as a technical undertaking only, without involving product or the business. This is a missed opportunity for organizations to rid themselves of the unused features that have bloated systems of the past.
While potentially easier said than done, we help organizations evaluate and determine the capabilities no longer needed while realigning or adding new capabilities through reimagining applications. This means taking a step back to understand what users currently need, prioritizing those needs against business outcomes and metrics, and applying modern product development practices.
Application Modernization focuses on a single application or a tightly defined set of applications by either:
- Replatforming to the cloud to make the minimal set of changes needed to run in the cloud. For example, if there's operational benefit from a standardized cloud-based deployment model, such as containerization, but no supporting business case for further application changes and the resulting architectural characteristics are acceptable, replatforming may be a suitable strategy for applications in the portfolio.
- Refactoring the application can be considered when there's a business need for product evolution, but the legacy application requires restructuring to accommodate. An example would be adding an API layer to a legacy application to expose the core assets.
- Rearchitecting the application and embarking on a cloud-native rewrite is a suitable option for high-value legacy applications that often change, unlocking the friction for product evolution and new feature development. Alternatively, a driving factor for this approach may be decoupling core business capabilities to increase application stability or transition to a more coherent and extensible application architecture.
- Retiring applications or feature sets should be considered to reduce application complexity, address technical debt and remove any capabilities no longer providing business value.