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Application Modernization
Quixy Editorial Team
December 28, 2023
Table of contents
Reading Time: 11 minutes

Gartner, VP Analyst, said, “For many organizations, legacy systems are seen as holding back the business initiatives and processes that rely on them.” Systems that once worked wonderfully are now not scalable, lack documentation, and do not support integration or data migration. The solution in this situation is application modernization.

Adopting application modernization has become a necessity with digital transformation. This transition from legacy systems to advanced technologies is a step toward growth for any business. However, it’s still a complicated and expensive process. 

To remove any obstacles in the transition journey and to ensure that you follow the right approach, it’s important to understand the whole concept thoroughly. This guide on application modernization will help you get your basics right and empower you to make the right decision in your application modernization journey.

What is Application Modernization?

The first step towards understanding application modernization is understanding modernization.

When it comes to technology, modernization refers to the process of updating and adapting systems, applications, and infrastructure to align with current industry standards and user expectations. It involves the adoption of contemporary technologies, methodologies, and architectures. It is an ongoing process that ensures technology remains relevant, competitive, and capable of meeting the dynamic needs of users and businesses in the rapidly changing digital landscape.

In application modernization, the focus is updating and improving existing software applications to leverage the latest technologies. This involves refactoring or re-architecting legacy applications to adopt modern frameworks, cloud services, and development methodologies. The goal is to improve agility, scalability, security, and user experience, extending the lifespan and value of the applications in the rapidly evolving technological landscape.

What are the Benefits of App Modernization?

Application modernization is a complicated process. But it has a lot to offer to businesses. Here are some benefits of application modernization that explain why multiple businesses are adopting it and why the application development market is predicted to be a size of USD 32.8 billion by 2027.

Benefits of Application Modernization

1. Increases Agility and Time to Market

Adopting newer, more efficient technologies such as cloud computing, containerization, and microservices helps increase agility and speeds up time to market. This shift streamlines workflows, facilitating quicker development, testing, and deployment. It allows rapid adaptation to market trends and customer needs, enhancing your competitive edge. Modernized systems enable faster, more efficient responses to opportunities, ensuring swift delivery of new features and services to customers.

2. Improves Data Management

Modern systems, like NoSQL databases and cloud-based storage, offer superior scalability and flexibility, efficiently handling large data volumes. This allows for improved data processing, analysis, and retrieval. These modernized applications often include better data governance and security features, ensuring data integrity and compliance. As a result, you get sharper insights and make more informed decisions, leveraging data more effectively.

3. Enhances Customer Experience

Modernized apps often feature streamlined navigation, faster load times, and enhanced functionality, significantly improving user engagement and satisfaction. Integration of AI and analytics enables more tailored user experiences, offering recommendations and support based on individual user behavior. This results in a smoother, more satisfying customer interaction, fostering loyalty and enhancing overall service perception.

4. Strengthens Security

Modern frameworks and platforms have advanced security features that protect against contemporary threats. This includes regular updates and patches to address vulnerabilities, encryption for data protection, and secure authentication methods. By migrating to newer architectures like microservices, applications become less susceptible to widespread breaches, as isolated services limit the impact of any security compromise, ensuring overall system robustness.

5. Reduces Maintenance and Support Costs

Modern applications, built on scalable cloud infrastructures and microservices, require less manual intervention, minimizing downtime and labor costs. Automated deployment and monitoring tools further decrease the need for extensive support staff. Additionally, contemporary platforms often offer better compatibility and easier updates, leading to lower long-term operational and upgrade expenses.

Also Read: Digital Transformation vs. Digital Modernization

What are the Challenges with Legacy Applications?

While often critical to business operations, legacy applications come with several challenges. Most of these common challenges with legacy applications can be solved with application modernization. 

challenges with legacy applications

1. Monolithic Architecture

Monolithic architecture is where the entire application is a single, inseparable unit. This design makes scaling inefficient, as the whole application must be scaled even if only a part needs more resources. Making changes, even minor ones, becomes cumbersome, requiring the entire application to be redeployed. 

  • Solution: Application modernization addresses these issues by shifting towards a microservices architecture. This approach breaks down the application into more minor, independent services, each handling a specific function. This modularity allows for scaling individual components as needed, making the process more efficient. 

2. Data Migration and Integration

Legacy systems typically operate in silos, using outdated data formats or storage solutions that are incompatible with modern technologies. Migrating data from these legacy systems to newer platforms can be complex and risky, potentially leading to data loss or corruption. Also, integrating this data with modern applications and services is difficult due to differing formats and architectures, hindering the ability to leverage data effectively across the organization.

  • Solution: Modern data management tools and cloud-based solutions facilitate easier migration and integration of data. It involves standardizing data formats and implementing robust governance measures to ensure integrity. This approach enhances interoperability, allowing seamless integration with diverse applications and improving your ability to utilize data effectively.

Also Read: IT Modernization Guide: Strategies, Approaches

3. Lack of Documentation

Legacy applications often suffer from inadequate or outdated documentation. Over time, as original developers leave and technologies evolve, the knowledge about these systems diminishes. This lack of documentation makes understanding, maintaining, and updating these applications challenging. It hinders effective troubleshooting and can lead to longer downtimes or errors during updates, affecting overall efficiency and reliability

  • Solution: Application modernization addresses this challenge by reengineering and documenting the legacy systems as part of the upgrade process. During modernization, teams analyze and document existing functionalities, creating a comprehensive knowledge base for the new system. This not only aids in the smooth transition to modern technologies but also ensures ongoing maintenance and future updates are more manageable and efficient, with clear documentation guiding the process.

4. Limited Scalability and Performance

Legacy systems, designed with older technologies, struggle to handle increased workloads efficiently, leading to performance bottlenecks. Their rigid architecture makes it difficult to scale up or down quickly in response to changing demands, limiting your ability to grow and adapt in a dynamic market environment.

  • Solution: High-performance architectures, such as microservices and cloud computing in application modernization, allow for the independent scaling of different application components, enhancing performance and resource utilization. By leveraging modern, agile technologies, you can efficiently scale your operations to meet fluctuating demands, ensuring robust performance and supporting growth and adaptability in a fast-paced business landscape.

5. Resistance to Change

Employees often become accustomed to the existing systems and processes, making them hesitant to adopt new technologies. This resistance can stem from fear of the unknown, concerns about job security, or a lack of understanding of the benefits of modernization, hindering the transition to more efficient and effective systems.

  • Solution: Comprehensive training and change management strategies can overcome this challenge. By involving employees in the modernization process and providing clear communication about the benefits and impacts, you can build a more receptive and supportive environment. Training programs and gradual implementation of changes help ease the transition, ensuring employees feel confident and competent with the new systems.

Also Read: Digital Modernization A Must. Modernize your Enterprise IT today!

What are the Application Modernization Strategies to Follow?

Application modernization strategies are approaches taken to update and improve legacy systems. Each strategy has its benefits and challenges, and the choice depends on factors like the current state of the application, business objectives, available resources, and future scalability requirements. Often, a combination of these strategies is employed to achieve the best results.

Application Modernization Strategies

1. Rehost

Moving an application to a new environment, often cloud-based, without significant changes to its code, features, or functions.

2. Replatform

Relocating the application to a new runtime platform with minimal code changes, optimizing it to align better with the new platform’s features.

3. Refactor

Altering the application’s code to fully utilize modern, cloud-native architectures, optimizing it to be more modular, scalable, and efficient.

4. Rearchitect

Making significant changes to the application’s architecture while maintaining its scope and functionality, typically transitioning from monolithic to microservices architecture.

5. Rebuild

Completely rewriting the application while retaining the same functionalities, usually chosen when the existing codebase is too outdated or complex to be effectively modified.

6. Replace

Substituting the legacy application with entirely new software, often a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solution, considered when the existing application can’t meet evolving business needs even with updates.

What are App Modernization Steps?

App modernization is a process that involves several key steps to transform legacy applications into modern, efficient, and effective systems. The following steps provide a structured approach to app modernization:

Steps for App Modernization

1. Conduct a thorough Assessment

Evaluate existing applications to understand their architecture, limitations, and business impact. Align modernization objectives with business goals and prioritize applications based on their value and modernization complexity. Develop a roadmap with clear goals, timelines, and resource requirements.

2. Select Technology

Choose appropriate technologies and modernization strategies (like cloud migration, microservices, or containerization) that align with your business objectives. Consider factors like scalability, performance, and integration capabilities. Define the scope for redesigning the application architecture and user interface.

3. Redesign

Modify or rebuild the application according to the selected strategy. This includes redesigning the architecture, updating or writing new code, and implementing modern features. Ensure the application is adaptable, scalable, and meets current business needs. Rigorous testing is essential to ensure functionality and performance.

4. Migrate and Integrate Data 

Migrate data from legacy systems to the new environment, ensuring data integrity and security. Plan for integration with existing systems and data sources. This step is crucial for maintaining data consistency and ensuring seamless operation between old and new systems.

5. Deploy, Train, and Ensure Continuous Improvement

Deploy the modernized application, ideally in phases to minimize disruption. Provide training to users and IT staff for a smooth transition. Establish ongoing support and maintenance. Continually gather feedback for iterative improvements, ensuring the application evolves with changing business needs and technology trends.

Also Read: The Secrets of App Development: Building Excellence

What are the Key Technologies that support App Modernization?

Several key technologies play a crucial role in supporting app modernization. Here are the top five of them that can enable you to transform your legacy applications into more efficient, scalable, and agile systems.

App modernizations technologies

1. Cloud Computing

Cloud computing offers scalable, on-demand resources and services, essential for hosting modernized applications. It enables reduced infrastructure costs, improved performance, and enhanced scalability, transforming legacy applications into more efficient, agile, and globally accessible solutions.

2. Containers

Containers bundle applications with all their needed parts, making them easy to deploy and run consistently anywhere. This simplicity and flexibility are key for updating and scaling applications efficiently in modern environments.

3. Microservices

Microservices break applications into smaller, independent services, enhancing agility and scalability. This architecture allows for easier updates, better fault isolation, and more efficient deployment in modern applications.

4. Orchestration and Automation

Orchestration and automation tools streamline and manage complex application processes, coordinating multiple tasks efficiently. They enable smoother, faster deployments and operations, essential for modernized, scalable applications.

5. No Code/Low Code

No-code/low-code platforms enable rapid application development with minimal coding, allowing users of varying technical expertise to build and update applications quickly, significantly accelerating modernization efforts.

How to Optimize Cost During Application Modernization?

According to Gartner’s senior analyst, Akis Sklavounakis, 17% of total IT spending goes into new application development which makes it a key area to consider for cost-cutting and better resource optimization. 

Here are four methods identified by Gartner to cut costs at this stage.

1. Expand Talent Pool

The COVID-19 lockdown demonstrated the potential of hiring remote development talent, a trend supported by a Gartner survey where 82% of company leaders plan to allow some remote work and 47% will enable full-time remote work. This shift towards a “talent anywhere” approach is becoming standard practice. Application leaders can leverage citizen developers outside IT to build or customize solutions, offering cost savings in IT.

2. Adopt Agile Transformation

Embracing a more agile operating model enables organizations to shorten the time-to-value, allowing teams to reprioritize activities and outputs quickly. This approach reduces bureaucracy by employing short-term, incremental, and iterative planning, facilitating a more responsive and efficient organizational structure.

3. Use Cloud Services

Adopting software-as-a-service (SaaS) for common business functions like HR, finance, and procurement offers substantial savings. Moreover, choosing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) over traditional on-premises hardware, utilizing cloud-based development tools instead of licensed alternatives, and opting for platform-as-a-service (PaaS) application runtimes rather than licensed runtimes can lead to additional cost reductions for application leaders.

4. Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Total cost of ownership encompasses all direct and indirect costs over an application’s lifetime, including recurring, nonrecurring, future, and initial costs. Encouraging development teams to “design for change” leads to applications that are more supportable, maintainable, reliable, and scalable, effectively managing technical debt throughout their lifecycle and reducing overall costs.

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Where does Low-Code No-Code fit in Application Modernization?

No-code/low-code platforms, such as Quixy, provide a more accessible and efficient way to develop and update applications. These platforms enable users with limited technical expertise to create and modify applications quickly, reducing the dependency on skilled developers. This accelerates development cycles, lowers costs, and democratizes app development, making it easier for organizations to adapt to changing business needs and integrate new functionalities into existing systems.

No-Code Low-Code in Modernization

1. Accelerated Development

Rapid applications development with visual development tools and speedy deployment due to simplified workflows and pre-built modules.

2. Reduced Dependency on Developers

Empowerment of non-technical users to build applications independently, minimizing reliance on specialized coding skills for app creation and modification.

3. Lowered Development Costs

Reduction in expenses associated with hiring expert developers for every project, along with decreased overhead costs as the platform eliminates the need for extensive coding expertise.

4. Streamlined Development Process

Simplification of app development through intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces and automation of repetitive tasks, expediting the overall development lifecycle.

5. Customization and Flexibility

Tailoring applications to specific business requirements with ease and adapting to evolving needs through configurable features and modules.

Also Read: Evolve, Don’t Replace with Quixy – Overcoming Legacy System Gaps

6. Cost-Effective Solution

Reduced investment in development resources due to efficient tools and workflows, leading to lower operational costs through faster development and reduced maintenance needs.

7. Accessibility for Non-Tech Users

Enabling individuals without coding knowledge to create functional applications and democratizing the development process for various stakeholders within an organization.

8. Adaptability to Business Needs

Easily modifying and updating applications as business requirements change, ensuring agility in responding to market dynamics and evolving user demands.

9. Integration of New Functionalities

Seamlessly incorporating new features without extensive coding expertise and quick integration of external services or functionalities into existing applications.

Investing in a platform like Quixy will benefit you as it offers:

  • Streamlined development process: Quixy simplifies app development, enabling faster creation and deployment of applications, even for users without deep coding knowledge.
  • Customization and flexibility: It allows businesses to build customized solutions that cater specifically to their unique processes and needs, enhancing operational efficiency.
  • Cost-effective solution: By reducing the reliance on specialized IT resources and minimizing development time, Quixy helps lower the overall cost of application development and maintenance.

Conclusion

Transitioning from legacy systems to modern technologies like cloud computing, microservices, and no-code/low-code platforms initially appears complex but ultimately streamlines business operations. Platforms like Quixy offer extensive resources to ease this transition, simplifying the process. In today’s competitive business landscape, adopting such innovative tools is crucial. They ensure your applications are not only up-to-date but also dynamically aligned with evolving customer demands and market trends, a key factor for staying ahead in the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q. What are the benefits of application modernization?

Application modernization offers numerous benefits including increased agility and time to market, improved data management, enhanced customer experience, strengthened security, and reduced maintenance and support costs. These advantages empower businesses to adapt to market trends, improve operational efficiency, and provide better services to customers.

Q. What are the challenges with legacy applications?

Legacy applications often pose challenges such as monolithic architecture, data migration and integration issues, lack of documentation, limited scalability and performance, and resistance to change. Application modernization helps address these challenges by employing various strategies to update and improve these systems.

Q. What are the application modernization strategies to follow?

There are several application modernization strategies, including rehosting, replatforming, refactoring, rearchitecting, rebuilding, and replacing. Each strategy offers unique benefits and is chosen based on factors like the current state of the application, business objectives, available resources, and scalability requirements.

Q. How to optimize cost during application modernization?

Optimizing costs during application modernization can be achieved by expanding the talent pool to leverage remote development, adopting agile transformation for quicker value delivery, using cloud services to reduce infrastructure costs, and lowering the total cost of ownership by designing for change and managing technical debt effectively.

Q. How do key technologies support application modernization?

Several crucial technologies play a pivotal role in supporting application modernization. Cloud computing offers scalable resources, and containers facilitate consistent deployment, microservices enhance agility, orchestration tools streamline processes, and no-code/low-code platforms accelerate development. These technologies collectively transform legacy applications into more efficient, scalable, and adaptable systems, aligning them with current industry standards and user expectations.

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