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What is Application Modernisation?

What is Application Modernisation?

Application Modernisation is the practice of updating older software to newer computing approaches. It maximises the benefits of modern cloud environments and moves organisations away from out-of-date legacy systems.

Applications developed on outdated platforms can be inflexible. Many of them are built as monoliths with their services and features packaged together. As these apps lack modularity, adding new functionality to one component can create regressions in others. Testing can quickly become complicated, maintenance is expensive and time-consuming, and scaling is inefficient and often leads to waste.

Application Modernisation takes advantage of new infrastructure and tools like microservices, cloud, and DevOps, modernising systems and removing the burden of legacy applications.

How does Application Modernisation work?

Application Modernisation is made up of three different transformational processes:

  1. Going from monolithic or service-oriented architecture to microservices
  2. Moving from physical, on-premise infrastructure to cloud-based solutions
  3. Modernising IT workflows through DevOps

Each of these steps can be completed in isolation. However, organisations can run into trouble if they decide to stop after a single process. That’s because microservices, cloud and DevOps complement each other.

For example, microservices run best in containers that allow them to scale dynamically – containerisation happens to be an important feature of cloud computing. Additionally, cloud and microservices are built for speed and resilience. Making them ideal tools for agile IT teams looking to automate deployment and testing – much like in DevOps.

When a business has completed all three transformational processes, it will be able to run its apps as microservices, in a cloud environment, and deploy new features using an efficient development pipeline – reducing costs and providing a better service for end users.

Here's a breakdown of each process:

Monolithic to Microservices

While monolithic applications are generally easy to develop, deploy, and manage, they are difficult to update and scale. This is an issue for businesses racing to meet changing customer demands in a cost-effective manner.

The components within legacy apps all ship together. So, updates or faults in one component might impact another. As a result, deployments are more time-consuming and cumbersome, diverting resources away from other projects and slowing time to market.

Scaling introduces similar issues. If even one component is facing load and performance challenges, it might be necessary to scale up the entire app – leading to considerable wasted compute and cost implications.

The solution is to break monolithic applications up into a collection of small, loosely coupled microservices. With microservices, every application function is its own service that runs in a container. These containers communicate with each other through APIs.

As each container and subsequent app is independent, the development team responsible for a particular component can choose a language and framework that works best for the task at hand. These independent components make it easier to commit smaller changes that make it through testing and deployment faster. It also means that if the component they’re working on fails, it won’t jeopardise the others – reducing the risk of downtime.

When it comes to scaling, if the load on a particular service is higher than usual, additional capacity can be added quickly. When demand subsides, capacity can be scaled back to normal.

Cloud migration

Application Modernisation requires organisations to transition their applications, processes, and data management to a cloud-first environment. The main benefits of cloud migration include greater agility, scalability, and access to more compute resources.

However, moving to cloud is just the first step. Adopters need to maximise the value of cloud services by capitalising on the innovation potential they offer. It’s easier to realise that value with cloud-native apps, whereas it can be a bit trickier with legacy applications.

DevOps transformation

As the functionality of applications increases, so does the complexity of development. IT teams that were once only concerned with building, testing, and deploying now must expand their expertise to security, data, and project management. However, more cooks in the kitchen can disrupt workflows, leading to specialisation silos, bottlenecks, delays, and waste.

DevOps promotes collaboration across IT teams. It makes the department more efficient by streamlining the process of code deployment. When done properly, work moves smoothly between teams enabling businesses to design and launch high-quality apps at speed.

DevOps transformation aims to build a delivery pipeline that encourages teams to communicate and operate more effectively.  

                                                            DevOps Transformation
Action                      >>>                                 Result
                                  smaller updates                  >>>                    rapid deployment of apps
                automated testing & deployment         >>>                  higher quality products
                          greater collaboration                  >>>      more responsive to customers & market conditions
                                  lean mentality                    >>>                easier to deliver business value


What are the benefits of Application Modernisation?

The major benefits of Application Modernisation are improved organisational performance, accelerated time to market, and enhanced customer experiences - but that’s not all. Modernising your apps will also improve security, productivity, and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Security: Organisations can rely on the robust security services offered by cloud vendors. The security capabilities of providers such as AWS and Azure are industry-leading and will safeguard workloads.

Total cost of ownership (TCO): Legacy apps that struggle to meet user demands require a lot of maintenance. So do the on-premise servers they’re hosted on. Modernising architecture to microservices and infrastructure to cloud can reduce costs and prevent organisations from paying for under-utilised servers and databases.

Adaptability: Compared to legacy systems, additional functionality can be added to modernised apps much faster and much easier allowing businesses to respond quickly to market demands.

Improving productivity: Microservice architecture allows independent development, scaling, and automation of each application component. When this flexibility is combined with DevOps, IT teams can communicate and operate more effectively.

Time to market: Decoupled microservices and high performing IT teams make it easier to commit smaller app changes that make it through testing and deployment faster, vastly improving time to market and customer experience.

Scale: Unlike monolithic apps, additional capacity can be added quickly when the load on a particular component is high. When demand returns to normal, so does capacity.

Sustainability: App modernisation can help you reduce the carbon footprint of your IT infrastructure since services are only spun up when they’re in use and scaled back when demand subsides.

Strategies for modernising applications

The first step in modernisation planning is determining the return on investment. Organisations typically begin with applications that have the highest business value and are the easiest to modernise.

There are several basic approaches to modernisation, the right method largely depends on your business objectives:

Encapsulate The existing functionalities of the app are broken down into microservices and provided to the end-user as services via an API.
Rehost or lift & shift The existing application is lifted from one infrastructure environment and rehosted in a more powerful one, without any redesign or restructuring of the architecture.
Replatform The core application is not restructured, but the overall functionalities and user experience are optimised.
Refactor Restructure and optimise the existing code (although not its external behaviour) to remove technical debt and improve non-functional attributes.
Rearchitect Involves a complete overhaul of the existing application framework, re-imagining the way architecture is conceptualised and developed. Cloud-native tools and software are often deployed in this method, providing more scalability, agility, and enhanced capabilities.
Rebuild Rewriting and re-developing the entire app in a way that preserves the original scope and specifications.
Replace Switch the existing app with a new one that has brand-new functionalities, structure, and scope.


Find out more about application modernisation at Nasstar,

or speak to one of our experts today.

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