App Modernisation with Microsoft Azure

Many organisations are spending a substantial amount of money every year maintaining legacy applications. The applications are costing them both time and money and are restricting them from gaining the agility they need to operate in today’s evolving digital environment. The answer is app modernisation: refactoring, repurposing, and consolidating existing applications so that they align more closely with business needs. By taking advantage of the cloud, businesses are able to make the changes they need to their environment and their products. As a leading cloud platform provider, Microsoft Azure enables faster development, increased agility and can significantly reduce costs. It’s about moving to the cloud, but most importantly it’s about what the cloud enables.

Why Modernise Your Apps?

Every business, regardless of industry or product, relies upon a multitude of applications. Whether it’s for internal business applications like data entry, customer relationship management or procurement or external applications like e-commerce sites, mobile apps or customer portals, there is software running to achieve it. All of these applications need to interlink, to feed back to the line of business applications such as SAP, CRM and HR. Moreover, every application consumes and generates data. With so many applications, the challenge is taking this data and creating actionable insights. 

There are several triggers for application modernisation, but ultimately it is the opportunity to breathe new life into existing applications, or extend their capabilities by adding new functionalities, that drives the change. By modernising existing applications, businesses are able to transform their products, optimise their operations and engage both their customers and employees. 

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s public cloud computing platform and the leading solution for creating a partial or totally cloud-based application architecture. Azure enables users to build, deploy and manage applications, anywhere. The platform provides a range of services including compute, analytics, storage and networking. One of the many advantages of Azure is that it enables businesses to pick and choose from the services on offer. Organisations can develop, run or migrate applications in the public cloud, in the way that best suits their needs. 

Whether businesses need to add cloud capabilities to an existing network or want to entrust Microsoft with all of their computing and network needs, Azure provides secure, reliable access to cloud-hosted data. What’s more, the platform has an ever-expanding suite of products and services, all available through the one platform. Microsoft Azure delivers a cloud or hybrid cloud solution that empowers organisations to gain fully actionable visibility into their data and infrastructure metrics. Enhanced insight means they can quickly react to business opportunities. 

Ultimately, if a business wants to deliver applications and features faster to users and customer, Azure can help. The platform addresses security issues caused by legacy applications and outdated code and creates innovative applications that enable new business opportunities. 

Ways to Modernise Apps with Azure

As we’ve touched on, Azure enables businesses to choose the modernisation strategy that best suits their business and the applications they work with. Ultimately, what differentiates Microsoft from other cloud platform providers is that they are able to work with companies at all stages of their cloud journey. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the solution they offer is fully flexible and adaptable to allow for this. 

Modernisation strategies will vary for each organisation and its business applications. However, there are three common scenarios used to modernise legacy applications with Microsoft Azure:

  • Cloud Infrastructure-based applications – this is the process of migrating or rehosting existing on-premises applications to the Azure platform using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Known as Lift and Shift, applications will have almost the same composition as before. However, applications can be deployed to virtual machines (VMs) and work on cloud infrastructure. 
  • Cloud-Optimised Applications – running applications with cloud technologies such as containers allows businesses to gain additional benefits with minimal code rewrites. VM solutions can be converted into containers and deployed quickly onto Platform as a Service (PaaS). This gives a lot of agility and allows users to optimise the amount of resources they’re using. Containers are an effective way to carry code and many services either offer native support or are simply able to run containers and offer many additional capabilities. 
  • Cloud-Native Applications – this is a combination of data services and compute services that allows users to focus on managing their apps instead of their servers. The Software as a Service (SaaS), serverless, solution to app modernisation reduces the cost of DevOps, allows apps to be built faster and means there is no infrastructure to manage. One of the many benefits is that code doesn’t need to run for any longer than it is required; users only pay for what they need, when they need it. 

Azure gives the flexibility to migrate and modernise applications in a way that best suits each business. Moving straight to the cloud via lift and shift provides a certain level of agility. This is the lowest cost option but also doesn’t give the full benefits of modernisation. However, it  means that things work and there is a lot less effort involved. As progress is made through to PaaS and serverless, more agility, easier deployment, easier management and lower cost result. However, regardless of the combination of IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and on-premises, Azure ensures businesses receive the best service and the broadest set of capabilities possible. 

Benefits of Modernising Apps with Azure

First and foremost, Azure offers a flexible and adaptable solution to app modernisation. It works for every level of cloud maturity, whether organisations are just beginning to consider migrating to the cloud or want to fully modernise their legacy applications. Azure offers some amazing benefits for app modernisation:

  • Platform – Azure is a powerful and flexible foundation for  modernising applications. It offers a full stack of services covering frontend, backend, data intelligence and DevOps.
  • Tooling – the platform delivers advanced monitoring, telemetry and debugging alongside integration with Visual Studio, GitHub, DropBox and more.
  • Security – Azure has built-in security services and unique intelligence to protect workloads; it provides a highly secure foundation for both infrastructure and applications.
  • Costs – users can explore and exploit opportunities more easily with a much lower barrier to entry. 
  • Skills – Microsoft is a familiar company to many. It runs existing ASP.NET apps and allows organisations to use existing knowledge and skills. What’s more while moving to the cloud involves embracing new technology, it also comes with a reduced strain on resources. 

Where to Start?

When considering modernising any application, there are three things that need to be considered: the code that powers functionality and business logic, the data that is consumed and generated, and the infrastructure that it runs on. Each of these areas needs to be considered separately and, more often than not, a hybrid solution will result. 

The best way to evaluate the different options available is to review productivity versus infrastructure control. For some, this might mean focusing on code and application functionality as a priority, for others, it might be retaining tighter control on infrastructure management. Ultimately, Azure is a delivery platform that offers a wide range of managed services to suit all scenarios and is the most flexible way to modernise legacy applications. 

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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