By: Katie Johns
‘Delaying modernization of legacy applications until it becomes infeasible’ is how most organizations operate, but they do not realize it’s a big technical debt. They are already incurring so much cost overruns in supporting which no longer can be supported. You may have a thing for vintage car, house, fashion but operating on vintage software will make your organization regressive. Your legacy software may not be shielded from modern security threats. This could be mere resistance by the core team to implement this big change management, overcoming that will make your organization more efficient, nimble, and robust.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR MODERNIZATION
Aged systems and legacy applications are still being used by most organizations. While application modernization process may appear to be a tedious transition especially without adopting business goals, strategies, and best approaches then the most critical first step is evaluating your company’s current application portfolio are as follows:
- Various Inter-dependencies
- Establishing how data types align with the businesses’ current objectives in determining the right approach to legacy application modernization.
- Application/s utilization
- The current legacy environment
Generally, legacy applications hold back the business initiatives that rely on them. Thus, depending upon what’s missing in the application, any of the following modernization approaches mentioned below can be adopted:
This is also called Lift, Tinker, and Shift approach.
Re-platforming of a legacy application is when an application or its components are migrated to a new runtime platform. The entire or at times some portion of the application may be optimized or even before migration to the cloud. Minimal changes are made to make the code adapt to the new platform. However, the application features, code structure, and functionalities remain the same.
A minor cloud optimization strategy brings significant advantages without having to change the application’s core architecture. Replat-forming, therefore, gives developers the ability to reuse resources such as legacy programming languages (LPL), developed frameworks and existing caches in the application.
Replatforming is highly recommended where:
- An organization wants to specifically automate certain tasks, before database migration to web database platforms.
- An organization is assured that any minor alterations will not in any way affect the functionalities of the application.
- An organization wants cloud benefits increased and leveraged compared to the migration of the application to the cloud only.
- An organization is willing to first automize essential tasks to operations, but not which is not the priority of the business.
When an application has to be modernized at the presentation level, then the encapsulation approach works the best. This process involves leaving the code at its original state and environment while at the same time, connecting the new interface and access layers via an API.
Encapsulation leverages and extends an application’s value and features.
It encapsulates functions and data in the application making them available as services via an (API) formerly termed as Application Interface. It implements specifics and knowledge hidden behind the interface.
3. Code Refactor:
This involves restructuring as well as optimizing an already existing piece of code without any changes in the external behavior. This approach removes technical debt and also helps in improving a component’s features and functionalities.
As the name suggests, rehosting involves lifting a section or a complete set of applications from its current state to a new web-based platform.
It is otherwise called Lift and Shift.
This approach redeploys the application to another virtual, physical, or cloud infrastructure.
During the implementation of a lift and shift approach, changing the host configuration may be required especially when shifting the application to new cloud-based hardware.
The application code for such a case is unaltered, uncompiled and there are no modifications in features and functionalities. Rehosting is a faster process and leaves almost no impact on the business logic of the application.
This approach is fast and reliable as the cloud migration can be achieved with very minimal application disruption.
This approach is ideal for large enterprises looking due to its quick and non- disturbing migration. Once the application’s migration is done using the rehost approach, to re-architect and optimize the application is the left easy part since application migration to the cloud is the most difficult part.
Software tools which include; Racemi, AWS VM Import/Export, etc exist so as to help in automated migration although manual migration too exists.
Rehost can be used when:
- An organization is looking to reduce on-premises infrastructure costs immediately.
- An organization is a time and cost concerned about migration.
- An organization chooses only wants to move to the cloud but keep the applications running without disruption or modification.
- An organization does incur too much cost to maintain physical infrastructures.
This approach involves shifting the application to new architecture in order to explore new and best capabilities of a platform. This approach makes massive application configuration alterations and the application migration code as well.
The process is complex because, during the application editing of codes, the changes should remain intact in that it does not affect the application’s external behavior.
Rearchitecture can be done partially or completely, which depends on an organization’s needs.
In a partial refactor, for instance, the application is modified but just a minor part of it, which will ultimately result in faster migration in comparison to complete re-architecture.
On the other hand, complete modification of an application to deliver higher performance and lower cost is termed as a complete refactor.
Rearchitecture can be used in an event when:
- An existing organization wants to scale its existing application.
- An organization’s strong needs in business exist for adding performance and features to the application which is nigh impossible in the one existing.
- There is a need to restructure an organization’s code which is required in taking the cloud’s capability full advantage of.
- There is a need to boost an organization’s agility and improve the continuity of the business.
- There is an urge to move an organization to a Service-Oriented Architecture(SOA).
This should be the most extreme resort for the modernization of legacy software applications. It involves eliminating the former application and replacing it with a newer one, taking new requirements, specifications, and customer requirements into account.
An application or its component in this modernization approach is rebuilt or rewritten from scratch while preserving the scope and specification of the application.
A “Rebuild” migration strategy means that you completely redevelop the application on a PaaS infrastructure – unlike with Rearchitect, where application parts are only modified.
Rebuild removes existing code and redesigns the application in the Cloud, after which you can utilize innovative features on the Cloud provider’s platform. A Cloud-native application is cheap to use and highly scalable. A complete rebuild of your application comes with a price tag.
8. Solving Evidence-Based Problems on Focus:
Adoption of the current and latest technology to any technological human problems is what most engineers are particularly excited about but unfortunately, it mostly results in too much engineering, excessive funds, and time usage neglecting all cost-effectiveness.
Bearing this then, it is ideal to kick the ball rolling with actual problems based on the provided evidence, but again, there can be none, or maybe the organization is future-proof already, then the attention can be shifted to something else. – Muray Isaac David.
9. Design the Rollout:
In any technology adoption, poor execution is its death. During transitions from one solution or technology to another medium, users normally have a distinct experience.
“An organization’s taskforce normally is the final maker of any decisions.” –
When a simple, easy, and informative roll out is designed then the adoption rate is significantly higher in comparison to a poorly deployed with little-to-no information.
10. Move Your Data to The Cloud:
To escape being trapped by a specific technology, the most crucial step is moving all the data first to the cloud. Secondly, research on the new technology and try to research on what competitors from your industry are using and also which tools are trending.
11. Look for A Hybrid Cloud Solution:
In legacy systems, only two options for a hybrid cloud solution exists:
- The Rip and replace solution.
- The Hybrid solution (Cloud-based).
In a Hybrid cloud solution, one is allowed to move or store part of their legacy systems in the cloud while on the other hand;
While in Rip and replace approach, the old, unreliable, and complex system is replaced with, flexible, modern, and responsive systems.
However, this comes with perceived risks, high costs, and downtime which makes it very unpopular.
Are you planning to Modernize your Legacy Software?
Legacy applications hold back an organization’s growth. Whether it for improving the customer experience or for optimizing internal processes, a software application needs constant modernizing to stand by the rising competition and customer expectations.
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