Digital transformation is the driving force of global businesses today, making it imperative for stakeholders to think about the modernization of their business applications (apps) and legacy systems. In this article, we will talk about the benefits of app modernization, gain insight on the key concepts in the field, and take a look at the app modernization journey. 

Why App Modernization? 

Application modernization consists of the migration of legacy systems to new business applications or platforms, the use of new modern platforms, and systems integration – all for the purpose of work-flow optimization. By 2025, the app modernization market is expected to grow three times as large as in 2022. Some of the trends leading more and more companies to modernize their applications include:

  • Better user experience: Newer technologies make user journeys more pleasant and comfortable, adding to business value. 
  • Meeting end-customer expectations: All businesses strive to understand their customers and give them what they want. It doesn’t matter where their customers are or what devices they use – they should have a frictionless experience across all channels. 
  • Productivity optimization: Employees will be better engaged with newer tools that make their work easier and more productive. 
  • Security and compliance risks reduction: Security and compliance are crucial for any enterprise to get right. No one wants a data breach that can negatively impact both the business and end customer. 
  • Reduced costs of running applications: Some expense trimming never hurts. 

Understanding Terminology 

To understand the key terms within the application modernization topic, we will draw some analogies. Imagine that soon you will go on vacation, and now you have to decide how to optimize your expenses and maximize your pleasure. Here are some options: 

Owning a Vacation Home (As On-Premises Data Center): 

Things are easy if you own a house in a picturesque place somewhere at the seaside. Yes, it probably costs you an arm and a leg because you are responsible for all the maintenance even if you live there for only two or three weeks in the summer. Well, who cares about money if you don’t have to spend hours choosing a place to go and booking hotels? You don’t even have to look for restaurants to dine at because in your own house you can cook your own food. Such a vacation house can be compared to an on-premises data center with its own servers, network, and storage, where you keep a lot of capacity to cater to the peak loads. So, if your e-commerce company’s system is going to be extremely loaded in December, you will be fine because you have a lot of extra capacity. However, you are not going to use most of it throughout the year, and therefore there will be a lot of wastage and much higher cost. 

Booking a Hotel (As IaaS): 

If you don’t own a vacation house, you probably will book a hotel. It can be less convenient because you have to share the amenities with other guests, but all in all, it is fine since it is cheaper – you stay there for a week, you pay for a week. You cannot cook in a hotel, but you are allowed to bring your own food. Plus, if you need an extra room, you can rent it on the fly. In our analogy, the hotel is like IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service. In this model, IT infrastructures, such as storage, server, and networking resources, are provided on demand. Like you can bring and eat food in your hotel room, you can bring your own application and deploy it in the IaaS environment. 

Booking an AirBnB (As PaaS): 

Another cloud service is PaaS – Platform as a Service. Let’s compare this one with Airbnb. The difference between a regular hotel and Airbnb is that with the latter, one can cook your food as appliances such as a stove and oven are provided. Similarly, PaaS provides you with a platform where you can bring your data and configuration and build your application. 

Booking a Cruise (As SaaS): 

We can also go on a cruise or go to an all-inclusive resort. Once you embark on a cruise, everything there is available to you. You can have a meal in a buffet, take a swim in the pool or use extra services, paying for them on the fly. SaaS, or Software as a Service, is just like that. You pay for all-inclusive cloud-based software, with out-of-the-box functions and features, which is shared with other clients and ready to be used. You can also use additional services by paying for them on the fly. 

Renting the RV (As Containerization): 

Adventure-seekers travel by recreation vehicle (RV). Basically, an RV is a truck or bus with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom – everything you need to live there. It is self-contained. The best thing about it is that you can drive your RV wherever you want. We can compare traveling by RV to containerization, where you have a piece of code with lots of dependencies, bring those dependencies in a container and then take the container wherever you want – to Azure, GCP or deploy it on-premises. 

Owning a Timeshare (As Serverless): 

If one has money but thinks a vacation house is wasteful, they can own a timeshare. With a timeshare, we rent a house or apartment with all the amenities. That is, we can own a house for a limited time, while for the rest of the year, it can be rented by someone else. In software design, a similar thing is called serverless. Serverless architecture is an approach that allows developers to build and run services without having to manage the underlying infrastructure. It is cheaper as you pay for only the time that you use it. For the rest of the time, the same computer can be used by other customers to run their services. 

Journey to App Modernization 

Now that we’ve explained all the key terms, let’s look at how you can set off on an app modernization journey. 

Stage 1. Modernization On-Premises  

App modernization does not necessarily mean migrating to the cloud. The app deployed on-premises can be modernized and can remain on-premises. This is called legacy modernization. For example, if you have software written in COBOL, and you realize how hard it is to find COBOL coders, you will probably want to transform that into some modern language, like .Net or Java. That’s legacy modernization. Containerization can also be done on-premises. You can create a container and deploy our application and its dependencies within it, which can become a stepping stone to eventually moving this containerized application to the cloud. Something else we can do on-premises is hyper-automation, which can use robotic process automation (RPA) for optimizing the existing processes. 

Stage 2. IaaS 

The next step towards app modernization will be migration to Cloud VM or IaaS. For example, if you have an SQL server on-premises, moving it to the cloud VM can optimize costs. The most important feature that IaaS provides is auto-scaling, meaning that you can roll out more resources or increase the storage on demand, using the inherent scalability of the cloud infrastructure. 

Stage 3. PaaS or SaaS 

You can use PaaS or SaaS to repurchase products on the cloud, to replace corresponding on-premises platforms. This requires software configuration and data migration. 

Stage 4. Cloud-Native 

Going completely cloud-native, you can take advantage of microservices and serverless computing, moving from monolithic architecture to more decoupled modular and open architecture. At this last stage, you can also consider poly-cloud, enabling work in the cross-platform environment, and API marketplaces that allow you to monetize your services through open APIs. 

Time to Hit the Road 

In conclusion, App Modernization goes hand in hand with cloud transformation. Starting your journey requires reflection on where you are at this point in your company’s lifecycle, and where you want to go, not unlike the decisions needed for an optimal vacation. At Orion, we ensure our clients can effortlessly adopt the cloud, offering the whole spectrum of services, including conversion to mobile apps, cloud-native transformation, and more. 

Learn more about Orion’s offerings on our App Development & Transformation services page. 

Explore our Cloud & Infrastructure offering to find out about cloud for digital transformation, or contact us for a meeting.  

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