How to Modernize Legacy Applications and Boost Your Business Resilience
The modernization of legacy applications has been a trending topic in the market among digitally present businesses for a while now. Every year, as existing software gets older and new technologies pave their way in, it becomes a process that everyone will eventually have to face on their journey to building a durable and competitive organization. According to Rackspace, in 2021, 71% of businesses claimed to be modernizing at least ¼ of their applications, and the number is growing.
When planning to deal with your legacy software and considering legacy application modernization approaches, it is easy to get lost in all that exists out there. To choose the most suitable modernization strategy for your business’s needs, you must spend quality time analyzing and assessing all your options. Read on to discover the top steps to modernize legacy applications and multiply your profits so that you can gain new possibilities and benefits from it.
What is Legacy Application Modernization?
If we had to use only one phrase to describe the concept of a legacy system, it would definitely be “the silent business killer.” We usually associate the word “legacy” when referring to family values and traditions passed down from generation to generation. However, legacy systems are not something that should be associated in the same way. They can be problematic and unpleasant to deal with in the long run.
A legacy application is an asset that no longer serves your business goals and has reached the end of its life and value, which can only hinder future development. This means that it can no longer be supported or updated by the vendor who developed it. It can be very slow and require frequent fixes, cannot adapt to modern solutions, look obsolete, and require a huge operating budget just to maintain it. Ultimately, it can prevent you from growing and changing for the better.
Now, the application modernization process is a lifesaver from the shortfalls of legacy systems. It is a process of updating your architecture, platforms, code, etc., and making them more up-to-date and cost-effective. When implemented correctly, application modernization is the process that can bring you tremendous results by decreasing IT spending, accelerating workflow efficiency, streamlining technical delivery, and so much more.
Check out our article on the top 5 signs you are facing a legacy software to determine the current state of your applications.
Why Do You Need to Modernize Your Legacy Applications?
The results that you can achieve after starting your application modernization projects can benefit you from both a business and technical perspective. The following key reasons why modernize legacy applications is something that you should consider:
Reduced Operational Costs
By updating the software, you can reduce the cost of IT operations in maintaining your existing technology. The results are often tremendous. For example, Skandinavisk Data Center reduced its operating costs by 80%, saving €15M annually due to application modernization. Coinstar, on the other hand, achieved a 40% reduction in IT spending and a reduced application support load.
Modern Processes Implementation
By implementing application modernization techniques, you can get a boost in innovation and discover new technical possibilities that you might never have benefited from before. This can be the key to unlocking your digital transformation and creating various competitive advantages. For example, after getting rid of your technical debt and modernizing legacy systems, you will be able to implement artificial intelligence technologies.
Improved Customer Experience
The experience customers have when engaging with your technical systems can influence their decision to consider buying your service or product. Having a modern and convenient UX and UI can certainly make your company more appealing. For example, after implementing application modernization, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation achieved the expected result of a 25-fold growth in the number of users by 2023.
Updating and improving the technology enhances data security, which can help make workflow processes more reliable and safer from possible malicious attacks in the future. This can prevent many security issues, including data leakages, which can cost a lot of money and tarnish a business’s reputation.
Whatever you need to do with your code and architecture, now or in the future, it will be easier to work with them if they are up-to-date with modern requirements. This will save time and resources on maintaining IT systems and streamline workflow.
Key Technologies for Application Modernization
Cloud services facilitate the flow of data between users and clients by providing infrastructure, platforms, or software hosted by third-party providers and accessed over the internet through any device. The cloud not only plays an essential role in application modernization but also plays a critical role in security.
In a microservices architecture, parts of applications are separated and structured into different containers as loosely coupled services. Breaking a monolithic application into microservices makes it possible to develop, deploy, and run the application independently from the rest of the system.
Learn about data migration from legacy systems
Containers are software units that enable the packaging of application elements, allowing them to run seamlessly across different systems. This greatly benefits businesses as they transition to cloud technologies, particularly in complex environments where there is a need for operational flexibility.
Orchestration and Automation
Automation software is used to replace or minimize human intervention with IT systems, enabling the setting of instructions and frameworks for infrastructure, SOEs, or any other necessary work tasks to reduce manual processes. Orchestration helps manage and track multiple combinations of automated tasks. Both technologies allow developers to allocate more time to tasks of greater significance while reducing the possibility of errors.
7 Options for Modernizing Legacy Applications
There are different types of legacy applications, some of which may be outdated and incompatible with newer technologies, but still not dangerous and even beneficial for various business operations. For instance, let’s say your business has some data stored in a Cassandra 2.0 datastore, an outdated database. Although the data is of little importance and only accessed for archives twice a quarter, investing in modernizing it would be completely unprofitable.
On the contrary, legacy applications with crucial functionalities and data necessary for day-to-day operations can harm or even “kill” your business. Imagine the nightmare of having to run an online store inventory with 500 daily purchases on Cassandra 2.0!
This is why it is essential to carefully assess your systems for technical fitness, current and expected business value, quality, etc., and plan the whole framework of how to modernize your legacy applications with a vendor. Your architecture will then need to be split into separate pieces, each requiring its own modernization strategy. There are seven options available, which gradually rise in complexity, cost, and influence from the first to the last.
Rehosting involves moving parts of an application or its entire capacity to another infrastructure, whether it is a cloud, physical, virtual, or hybrid environment. This process is often referred to as “lift and shift,” where parts of the technical debt are first lifted from the mainframe and then shifted or transferred. For example, a common task is moving an application from outdated physical servers to a cloud environment, such as AWS.
The rehosting strategy does not involve significant updates and changes to the code, functions, or properties of the application. It is a relatively fast, low-risk, and inexpensive option that serves as a good starting point for future modernization steps. Therefore, it is typically used by businesses that are starting their application modernization journey or need to move their applications to the cloud rapidly.
Find out about 7 Data Migration Issues and Ways to Avoid Them
The purpose of encapsulation is to modify how an application interacts with other technologies without changing the application itself.
By choosing this strategy, developers must work on the existing code to modernize legacy apps and wrap it up with all the data and functionalities that have been presented. This will enable them to transfer the application to new layers so that it can be available as services via an API. This approach allows developers to leverage and extend the application features.
Encapsulation is only applicable for interface problems and is not a viable option for maintenance or upgrade issues.
Refactoring involves specialists reorganizing and optimizing the internal structure of the existing code in the current application while maintaining the same external behavior.
For example, if your hosting platform, architecture, and functionalities are satisfactory and do not require modernization, but there is a legacy invoice management module that hinders the business process, you can refactor it. The module’s behavior will remain the same, but its code will improve.
The refactored code is easier to understand and work with, which increases the productivity of developers and makes it more convenient for further improvements and modernization processes while eliminating a part of the technical debt.
Read 12 Reliable Tips from a 12-Year-Old Provider on how to outsource software development
Imagine having a system or application that works well, but you want to transfer it to a similar one with features that better suit your business needs, allow for new feature implementation, and provide the option to use modern cloud-based database management systems. If the resources required to connect and implement a new platform are acceptable, the transfer is worth it. This is where replatforming becomes useful.
By choosing this strategy, developers can make minimal changes to the code, but not the code structure, features, or functions. This results in a more user-friendly, cloud-compatible, and better-performing application.
Rebuilding involves discarding legacy applications and redesigning or rewriting their components from scratch while preserving the existing architecture. One reason for this could be the end of support for all or part of the application.
This is a risky and complex procedure, but if executed correctly, it can provide a vast array of opportunities to utilize new technologies and platforms. This is where you can truly consider the value that modernizing legacy applications can bring to customers in order to gain an advantage in the competition.
When the value that an application offers to your business is less significant than the resources you spend on its maintenance, it is time to replace it. This process is similar to replatforming, although more complex, as it typically involves building and connecting several different, mutually integrated systems.
During the analysis of your technical debt and aligning it with your business needs, you can determine how much the new application will differ from the old one. It may end up being bigger or smaller, with more or fewer features, but the most important aspect is to make it suitable for the new requirements and needs.
Sometimes, a business can develop to the point where its workflow processes have outgrown its engineering system, making it no longer beneficial and in need of redesigning. If, at the beginning of your SMB or enterprise application modernization journey, you realize that this is the case, and your existing application’s architecture cannot support your business goals, rearchitecting is the best option.
Rearchitecting is a combination of replacing and rebuilding, as well as restructuring the application architecture to provide a foundation for future business growth. It is the most comprehensive and complex process, almost completely eliminating technical debt. Having completed rearchitecting, you discover new possibilities for your digital transformation and innovations. It is what takes your business to the next level.
Choosing the perfect option
To truly transform your business processes and leverage technological advancements to improve efficiency and increase profitability, a complex journey of implementation is necessary. It is not only about choosing one perfect strategy and going along with it. Some methods might be combined or altered along the way.
The approach to legacy app modernization that you need depends on many variables. To minimize the resources spent on the whole process, tracking technical debt and conducting a deep analysis and proper planning is essential. Don’t forget to assess the current state of your application, align your goals and needs with available resources, compare the possible options, define a clear project timeline, and repeat the process as needed. To prevent your software from becoming legacy, you need to audit it systematically.
If you aim to derive long-term benefits and a significant positive transformation for your business through an application modernization project, the most impactful and progressive changes will be achieved by opting for the most complex strategies discussed above, such as Rearchitecting, Rebuilding, and Replacing.
Before contemplating how to modernize legacy applications and take advantage of their benefits to boost your business’s development, you first need to assess the extent to which your company’s applications require legacy modernization. To determine the most suitable strategy for you, make sure to conduct a thorough analysis of existing technical debt, aligning options with business needs and possibilities.
Each case is unique, and with over 13 years of experience helping businesses from various industries achieve their goals through technology improvement, Maven can help you in developing a tailored solution using only the necessary legacy application modernization tools. We have created our own new system that enables you to modernize your legacy applications twice as fast, saving time and delivering high-quality results more efficiently.
Contact us today to talk about your business’s future.
Why do we need application modernization?
Application modernization is the only process that helps significantly decrease the amount of technical debt that hinders business processes. It also delivers many benefits, like reducing costs for IT operations, improving user experience, making integration with other systems and applications easier, etc.
What are the trends in app modernization?
There are several trends in application modernization that are currently shaping the industry. Some of them are low-code and no-code development, hyperautomation, cloud-native applications, AI, and machine learning.
How do APIs modernize legacy systems?
APIs can be used to integrate legacy systems with modern applications, enabling data and functionality to be shared across different systems. They can also help to enable cloud migration by providing a standardized way to access legacy data and functionality and improve security and governance by providing a centralized way to manage access to legacy systems.
What is an example of legacy modernization?
One example could be the replacement (rearchitecting) Maven Solutions performed for BabyPark. Our client couldn’t implement an omnichannel strategy and therefore achieve constant growth. We changed their architecture and built a cloud-based POS system that ensures the best fit and value for Babypark. Now, they can process orders 30 times faster and no longer have to pay for licenses or other extras from third parties.