Are you stuck in the mud for your legacy application? Ways to modernize them
By Apratim Ghosh 8th March, 2021
Gartner VP analyst Stefan Van Der Zijden has mentioned “For many organizations, legacy systems are seen as holding back the business initiatives and business processes that rely on them,”
When we say legacy application, the first thought that comes to our mind any outdated technology that needs to be replaced or updated. One recent study reveals that more than one-third of all businesses continue using legacy apps that have not changed for over 15 years.
Legacy systems are not so reliable in keeping up with modern workflow and workloads. Sometimes, those applications also can’t handle the sheer volume and power required for new work processes, which makes them more likely to crash periodically. Companies have to spend enormous amounts of time and resources on keeping legacy apps functional or updating them to meet present needs. At some point, it is incredibly expensive to maintain and continue using these legacy apps.
Business facing problems from Legacy applications
The best approach to modernize legacy applications depends on the problems you are trying to solve. The added grunt of the Covid-19 pandemic has made it a necessary process to switch into a newer, more advanced environment to aid operations, IT, and their business in general. Modernization also paves the way for improving efficiency, optimized functions, and reducing costs. The sprawling digital adoption has made the situation more imperative for IT leaders to find effective ways to revive legacy systems. Knowing the risk-to-reward ratio before acting is now one of the main challenges for them.
Before delving into the ways of solution, let’s have a look at the four main factors that drive the need for modernization. If you check all the boxes below, then it is time for you to modernize your legacy applications—
- Are the market trends moving towards modernization?
- Is the demand for demographics shifting towards newer technologies?
- Do you have growing pressure on legacy systems to keep up with the changing needs of any project?
- Are you facing the inconvenience of use in work from home settings?
How to make the best approach for application modernization? — This is the thought that comes to your mind when you have already decided to renew your application. Here is the three-step evaluation provides direction in determining the best approach of application modernization depends on the problem that needs to be solved.
Phase 1: Six drivers for evaluating legacy system
Application modernization starts with the six main drivers. The legacy application is responsible for creating Complexities, concerns, or impediments results of its technology, architecture, or functionality.
Business prospection is one of the vital success factors for every business. Business prospection divides into three different categories called — business fit, business value, and agility. If, a legacy software/application can’t meet the new requirements imposed by digital business, then application modernized is the foremost option to fit properly and needs to be upgraded to provide greater business value. Business agility is one of the organizational methods, helps businesses adapt quickly to the first market changes. Sometimes, lack of application agility in keeping pace with the demands of digital business may be a cause of risk liability.
The remaining three drivers come from the IT perspective, which involves cost, complexity, and risk. Sometimes organizations face a lot of difficulties from the high cost of ownership. If you are dealing with complex technology infrastructure or security compliance – if your support or scalability are being compromised, then it is high time to modernize your legacy application.
Phase 2: Seven paths to evaluate modernization
Once the opportunity is selected and the problem identified, look at modernization options. The below options will help you choose the best-suited approach to ease the process and avoid business compliances. The below seven paths will guide your legacy app in modification.
1. Encapsulate: Leverage and extend the application features by encapsulating its data and functions. The process makes the application available as a service through an API.
2. Rehost: Without modifying the code, redeploy the application in different infrastructures, including physical, virtual, or cloud infrastructure.
3. Replatform: Organizations can migrate the application to a new runtime platform by making minimal changes to the code, but not the code structure, features, or functions.
4. Refactor: Restructure and optimize the existing code (although not its external behavior) to remove technical debt and improve nonfunctional attributes.
5. Rearchitect: Businesses can alter the code materially to shift the application to new application architecture and exploit new and better capabilities.
6. Rebuild: Redesign or rewrite the application component from scratch while preserving its scope and specifications.
7. Replace: Eliminate the former application component altogether and replace it. At the same time, consider the new business requirements and specifications.
Phase 3: Choose the best approach with the highest value and effect
Now you have multiple options for modernizing your legacy application but, you need to choose the best approach that will have the highest effect and value to your organization. An organization should map the bespoke seven options based on their influence on technology, architecture, functionality, cost, and risk.
Influence of factors (technology, architecture, functionality, cost, risk) on seven pillars
Basically, modernizing legacy software or applications means making the best decision between rearchitecting, rebuilding, or replacing. Rebuilding or replacing provides the best results with higher costs and risks, whereas rearchitecting has medium cost and risks. The key is to weigh all options to help identify the extent to which each will have the desired effect — with the minimum effort and maximum positive impact.
Now, it may be a question- how could an organization implement those processes to get rid of their legacy application. For those who don’t have the proper IT infrastructure or development support for modifying their existing system, consult with a Digital transformation Services company will be a well-rounded choice for them. An IT consulting company will support them with an A-To-Z application modernization roadmap.
Application modernization roadmap
A roadmap seems to be one common path that all the enterprises follow to successfully transition. But it is essential to remember that each organization has its journey, with personal goals and budgetary needs. The very first step is to break down monolithic applications into groups and small microservices. To rebuild from this point, application development service providers can guide you in the right direction with few general steps like
Roadmap for legacy application modernization
- Create a list of future goals before starting the actual process of transition. They help to conduct an application evaluation for making the transition smooth as well as gauge the probable difficulties while migrating to the targeted architecture. In this stage, your organization and targeted stakeholders should work together to reach a common achievable goal.
- After understanding the essence of each application, it is necessary to orient your business and goal settings in the same direction. Software consultants also identify the target audience, standardize the process and map the project from end to end in a much easier way.
- After assessment and prioritization, organizations need to look for the latest technology to aid modernization. In this situation, app development consultants will help you understand which technologies complement your applications and which ones don’t. They prioritize the features like scalability, agility, cost control, feature customization, and data security and allow you to have a hassle-free digital environment in the long run.
- In the final step, organizations implement the changes and make a transition. Review the infrastructure and collect feedback from the end-users can be the best course of action to run the application smoothly.
Some companies even try to explore ways of integrating with a digital workplace without making any changes to their existing application. I am hoping the above-mentioned strategies will help you to draw a positive solution in the future and apply the best approach by modernizing your legacy system with new technology.
An Entrepreneur, leader and technologist with over 18 years of experience. He is very focused on providing Technology and Advisory services to companies and has helped startups from different verticals to create technology platforms.