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Best Practices for Application Modernization

The ever-changing business landscape compels organizations to constantly undergo change to remain resilient and keep up with the pace of change. And though most organizations are quick to embrace modern technological innovations to drive better results, they often overlook the need to modernize their applications and bring them to match the speed of current and future business needs. Read on to find out why you need to modernize your applications and what best practices to embrace to drive the most favorable outcomes from your application modernization efforts.

The Need for Application Modernization

As cloud opens doors to a plethora of new-age possibilities for businesses of all sizes, application modernization takes center stage. Organizations today, across sectors, are driving relentless efforts in migrating to the cloud. But the presence of bulky, legacy enterprise systems make the journey towards cloud extremely challenging. These rigid systems not only lack the security needed to operate in today’s business world, the absence of integration capabilities make them an extreme mis-fit in a cloud world.

Since simply lifting and shifting these rigid applications to the cloud is not an option, it is imperative that they are constantly modernized to enable relevance and to ensure long-term success of your business. Application modernization not only allow your legacy systems to make the most of all that cloud has to offer, it also helps them sustain the ever-growing and ever-changing requirements. Application Modernization helps in:

  • Operating systems to their full capacity without causing any performance, security, or scalability issues
  • Ensuring they are purpose-built for the cloud while constantly updated with the latest patch, release, and update
  • Minimizing the cost of supporting and maintaining these applications in the cloud
  • Accessing greater functionality while leveraging the latest security features
  • Empowering and motivating employees with modern, up-to-date technology
  • Safeguarding them as well as the organization as a whole against new-age threats
  • Allowing IT staff to focus on critical tasks rather than spend time resolving the endless list of issues

Best Practices to Follow

The demands of the modern world necessitate the need for applications that are constantly modernized, so they can operate seamlessly in a cloud-first world while meeting the reliability, security, scalability, and integration needs of modern businesses. While setting out on the application modernization journey, here are some best practices to follow:

1. Understand Each Application in Detail: The first step in the application modernization journey is to get a clear understanding of each application as well as its dependencies. Start by understanding how each application performs in its current environment, how it operates under different conditions, and how it integrates with other systems in the ecosystem. Such understanding sets the stage for making informed, data-driven decisions, as well as in developing individual modernization roadmaps.

2. Prioritize Applications to be Modernized: After you have a fair understanding of every application, you need to weigh the tradeoffs. Identify applications that need to be modernized on priority, followed by those that can be modernized at a later stage. Simultaneously, identify and understand the risks associated with the modernization of each application as well as the approach that would best suit it. At the same time, evaluate the time and cost of each application modernization, and quantify the benefits you expect to achieve in terms of better agility, scalability, reliability, or performance.

3. Determine the Modernization Strategy: Modernizing applications requires a true organizational shift in mindset as well as new ways of thinking. Given that there are several ways in which applications can be modernized, you need to determine the modernization strategy that best fits the needs of your business. Based on how complex your legacy application is or the level of modernization you want to enable, you can either:

  • Rehost your application by simply lifting and shifting from your current on-premises environment to the cloud
  • Re-platform your application by moving key components of your application – for example the database – to the cloud
  • Refactor your application by rearchitecting it completely to leverage the latest technology

4. Have a Data Migration Checklist in Place: Modernizing legacy applications is not just about moving them to the cloud: it requires you to also plan for migrating the data they carry. Since most legacy applications have humongous amounts of data stored in them – most of which is too old or irrelevant for the modern world – it is crucial that you carefully understand what data is important and needs to be moved. Document how data is represented in the old system, how it needs to be migrated, and what testing needs to be done to ensure the data that is migrated is accurate, relevant, consistent, and up-to-date.

5. Overcome User Concerns and Resentments as Quickly as Possible: The decision to modernize applications also brings with it substantial user antipathy that needs to be dealt with in the most appropriate manner. Since existing users are accustomed to operating legacy applications for doing their day-to-day tasks, modernization would require them to get out of their comfort zone and change their way of working. Therefore, before you begin the modernization process, it is critical that you communicate the need for modernizing the application as well as the benefits users stand to accrue once the application is transformed. In addition, make sure to document all the changes that are planned as well as tips on how best to use the system for improved outcomes.

6. Embed Security at Each Stage of the Process: A major issue with legacy applications is their rather poor level of security, which when not addressed, can lead to organization-wide security challenges. Therefore, embedding security at every stage of the modernization process is a core requirement that needs to be done diligently. Leverage best-of-breed security tools to carefully inspect the security challenges of your legacy systems and fix them as early as possible to safeguard your business from threats. Encrypt data whenever possible and implement strong access control and authorization measures to control access.

Drive Organizational Success

Given how quickly the business world is moving to the cloud, modernizing legacy applications is no longer a question of if, but when. Since application modernization can help improve the security, reliability, efficiency, and relevance of critical business systems, embarking on the journey with thorough planning is extremely important: start by understanding each application in detail and prioritizing applications that need to be modernized. Next, determine the modernization strategy that fits best for each application and have a checklist in place for migrating data. Make sure to address user concerns as soon as possible and embed security into each stage of the process for organizational success.


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