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Legacy Application Modernization- Tips To Modernize Your Core Applications

Gartner forecasts the global IT spend to reach $3.9 trillion in 2021. This will be an increase of 6.2 percent from the previous year. This growth will mainly look to satisfy increased remote working, education, and new social norms presented by COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing measures.

Unfortunately, several organizations will spend a large part of their IT budget on the maintenance of existing enterprise applications. The money is spent on ensuring that the lights stay on and business can run. Legacy applications are often a major hindrance to digital transformation within organizations. They are inflexible and difficult to adapt to changing organizational needs. That’s why it’s important to modernize your legacy applications.

In this guide, we’ll look at how to move your legacy applications onto a modern infrastructure, how to avoid the pitfalls and get the best out of your IT budget.

Benefits Of Application Modernization

From an operational and financial standpoint, your legacy applications are a significant investment for your business. They are critical to your business goals. The cost, loss of productivity, and other issues that come with retiring these applications are too great. 

It would be more sensible and cost-effective to modernize these applications. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of newer software platforms, architectures, and tools without blowing your budget through the roof. Some of these benefits include:

  • Scalability: It’s important for every business to be able to adapt to future demands. Legacy applications, even if they are able to serve your current needs, are often left behind by modern systems. You should think ahead. Modernizing your legacy applications will enable you to adapt to future technological and industry demands.
  • Increased Productivity: Modern systems don’t have as many technical limitations as legacy applications. Additionally, you can easily diagnose modern systems for problems and therefore minimize your downtimes. It’s also easy to receive support and maintenance from vendors. This increases your system’s productivity.  
  • Improved Business Reputation: Modernizing your legacy applications enables you to improve the quality of your products and services. Enhanced customer satisfaction leads to a better business reputation and maximum return of investment (ROI).
  • Longevity: Modern systems aren’t only built for improved reliability and responsiveness but also resilience. They are built for the long run. You are therefore always assured of availability and business continuity.

How To Modernize Legacy Applications

Maintaining legacy applications can take you a lot of money, time, and labor. They’re also harder to update hence can become vulnerable to new security threats. The goal of application modernization is to enable you to create new business value by making the legacy application’s structure up to date. We’ll look at different ways of modernizing your legacy applications in this section. 

1. Encapsulation

This is one of the fastest and most economical ways to modernize your legacy applications. You make very minimal changes to the application code. All you have to do is connect the application to a new presentation and access layers and reengineer its interface.  But encapsulation only focuses on the application interface. You’ll therefore still have problems maintaining or upgrading the application.

2. Rehosting

Rehosting is also referred to as the lift and shift process. It involves moving your core applications from the mainframe (lifting) to the clouds or contemporary hardware (shifting). It’s one of the most effective strategies for modernizing your applications. You’ll also need to perform minimal changes to the application code when rehosting. 

3. Replatforming 

This strategy is also known as “lift, tinker, and shift.” Similar to rehosting, it involves lifting and shifting. But you have to optimize the entire application, or a portion of it, before shifting (tinkering). Tinkering allows you to reuse resources such as legacy programming languages and development frameworks and reduce a significant amount of time.

4. Refactoring

Unlike the first three processes, you’ll have to make major changes to the application configuration when refactoring. It’s a complex process that needs re-coding for better resource utilization. But the code changes do not have an impact on the application’s external behavior.

5. Rearchitecting

This is a medium cost and risk strategy for modernizing your legacy application. But it’s quite a complicated process. You’ll have to alter the application to be able to shift to a new architecture for the application. This allows you to leverage the current and better capabilities of the application platform.

6. Rebuilding

This is a high-risk process. If you don’t do it right, it can lead to a lot of pitfalls. You have to write components of the application from scratch without losing its scope and specifications. But rebuilding allows you to incorporate new features, functionalities, and processes into your legacy application. Through rebuilding, you can leverage third-party platforms and modern technology to enhance your systems.

Legacy Application Modernization Best Practices

It’s important to get everything right when undertaking legacy application modernization or modern application development. These four legacy application modernization best practices that we’ve compiled will help to get you on the right path:

1. Identify your mission-critical applications

It can be expensive to modernize every single legacy application you have at a go. You should therefore give priority to high-value applications that you stand to benefit from improving their performance, security, scalability, and reliability.

To evaluate the value of each application, you should consider:

  • The purpose of each application
  • The opportunities and problems it addresses
  • Maintenance costs
  • Benefits of modernizing the application

This will allow you to drive the modernization initiative from top-down and link your priorities and goals to the business bottom line.

2. Consider available resources

Modern application development usually comes with technical and cultural challenges. You should account for both when planning legacy application modernization. Ensure that you have a firm understanding of how the modernization process will impact your business processes, technology, and people. 

Another thing you should consider is whether you have the skill sets to support the process. If not, do you have the budget to contract a systems integrator?

3. Decide your best approach to the process

There are several different approaches you can take to legacy application modernization. They serve different purposes depending on your modernization goals. You can even leverage low-code development technologies to modernize your applications. Whichever approach you choose, it should align with the needs of your end-users. It should also make the application easier to develop, deploy, manage and scale.

4. Track performance improvements

You should also be able to monitor performance after the initial modernization phase. Identify and resolve any code, database, network, cloud, and server issues that can affect operational continuity or end-user performance. Tracking performance also helps to demonstrate how modernization has helped to improve functionality and business processes.

Modern application development forms the backbone of IT modernization for your business. Modernizing your legacy application allows you to improve resiliency, operational efficiencies, agility, and competitive edge. You can easily turn business ideas into reality at a much faster pace. But the key to success is planning your modernization approach so you don’t overspend on legacy application modernization or waste resources.