Software applications, the lifeblood of modern enterprises, are under relentless pressure to adapt, evolve, and deliver exceptional value. With customers seeking better value from products, clients seeking a faster time-to-market and enterprises themselves seeking more robust growth, the concept of application transformation comes into play. Since modern software requirements cannot be fulfilled by traditional digital solutions, there is a dire need to evolve.
According to Foundry’s State of The CIO Study 2023, infrastructure and application transformation and modernization is the third-highest priority for Chief Information Officers (CIOs). It’s no surprise that CIOs are focusing on this, given the significant impact that application modernization has on business performance and competitiveness.
Fig. 1: What IT leaders are turning their focus to
Image credit: Foundry (Source)
To understand why application transformation and modernization is so crucial, let’s explore the top five business goals driving organizations in 2023:
- Enhance Operational Efficiency: Streamline processes and operations for cost reduction and heightened productivity.
- Fortify Cybersecurity Measures: Strengthen security protocols to shield against contemporary cyber threats.
- Revolutionize Business Operations: Evolve and optimize the way businesses function.
- Elevate the Customer Experience: Fulfill the ever-expanding demands of today’s consumers.
- Boost Profitability: Guarantee the ongoing financial strength and success of the business.
The drive for modernization stems from the fact that legacy systems often hinder these initiatives. Traditional technologies and monolithic architecture can’t keep up with the pace of modern business, impacting efficiency, security, and customer experience.
The Legacy Conundrum
Many organizations still rely on legacy systems since they’re deeply ingrained in their operations. These systems frequently underpin critical functions and store vital data. A complete replacement would cause significant disruption to business operations. Monolithic applications, comprising rigid infrastructure and architecture, prove as a hindrance to application transformation and make it challenging for IT teams to introduce new features rapidly and efficiently.
Moreover, legacy systems carry inherent security risks. They are incapable of defending against modern attack vectors and often contain old vulnerabilities that have never been patched. Cybercriminals actively seek out these legacy systems, making them prime targets for cyberattacks.
Overcoming Challenges in Modernization
Fig. 2: Current trends in infrastructure and operations
Image credit: Gartner (Source)
Modernization isn’t without its challenges, particularly when dealing with legacy systems. The most common approach is to “lift and shift” applications to the cloud. However, this approach can pose several challenges:
- Technology Compatibility: Not all applications seamlessly adapt to cloud migration due to compatibility issues. It is crucial to assess which applications can make a smooth transition to the cloud and develop strategies for handling those that are not inherently compatible. Transferring applications to the cloud without proper consideration can result in performance and latency problems, especially for applications reliant on third-party software, which may not be well-suited for a simple lift-and-shift approach.
- Modernization Complexity: While rehosting can accelerate the migration of legacy applications to the cloud, enhancing and modernizing older technology often requires more time and effort. Some applications may not fully leverage cloud computing resources because they were not originally designed for cloud-native operation. Exploring alternative modernization approaches, such as refactoring or rearchitecting, can lead to the development of a more cloud-native application.
- Long-term Expenses: Initially, migrating a legacy application to the cloud with minimal modifications might appear cost-effective and low-risk. However, over time, the costs can become substantial. Without a cloud-native infrastructure, organizations may encounter difficulties in delivering competitive products, potentially resulting in reduced market share and a smaller customer base.
- Security Challenges: The effectiveness of cloud security largely depends on the expertise of the individuals implementing it. Security practices for on-premise systems differ from those in the cloud. Bridging this knowledge gap and recruiting the right talent can be challenging, particularly in light of the shortage of tech professionals in the field.
Modernization Amplifies Cloud Value
Modernization can amplify the value of the cloud by as much as 13 times if it’s part of an end-to-end transformation. However, despite 83% of executives agreeing that modernizing applications and data is crucial, only 27% have modernized their workflows.
The landscape is evolving, and priorities are shifting. As organizations re-evaluate their modernization strategies, aligning business, modernization, and cloud strategies enables companies to optimize their cloud services to leverage application modernization trends.
Creating a Cloud Strategy for Application Modernization
Companies adopting a “cloud-first” policy need a plan for onboarding new workloads and modernizing old ones. As they develop their strategies, businesses should consider implementing policies like-
Modernizing Data: It involves replacing legacy databases to handle distributed and streaming data sources and sinks.
Migrating to New Architecture: Instead of shifting an entire legacy application to the cloud, organizations can move specific features to more efficient architectures.
Turning Monolith into Microservices: The transformation from monolithic applications to microservices offers more flexibility, faster development, and minimal risk of downstream effects with code changes.
Moving to the Cloud: Cloud-native platforms allow developers to leverage cloud environment principles and tools, making it possible to deploy new digital workloads to these platforms.
Embracing the Future
The challenges and opportunities are greater than ever. Technical debt, talent shortages, and disruptive technologies pose significant hurdles, but they also offer a chance for businesses to innovate and thrive. Application transformation and modernization is the key to navigating this dynamic environment successfully.
It’s time for businesses to look beyond cost when considering modernization. The focus should shift to opportunity costs and the future capabilities that will be lost without modernization. By leveraging the industry expertise in the application transformation of a leader like STL Digital, you can prep your business for the future with untold possibilities.