Digital transformation is on everyone’s minds these days, and as every company looks to modernise its ways of working, every company is becoming a tech company. Cloud, mobile and big data technologies are forcing organisations to adapt, and the growth of AI, the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning are only going to add more fuel to the fire.
With the vast pace of change, old infrastructure and traditionally built applications, while still critical, can significantly limit growth. Legacy applications developed on out-of-date platforms using older programming tools can be inflexible and difficult to change. Fortunately, tools and technologies have come to the fore that are able to help modernise apps and maintain them as important business systems.
What Does App Modernisation Mean?
Legacy application modernisation is the process of creating new business value from existing, ageing applications. The idea is that these applications can be updated with modern features and capabilities. To give a definition, according to the Global Application Modernization Services Market:
“Application modernisation is the refactoring, repurposing or consolidation of legacy software programming to align it more closely with current business needs.”
The technology landscape is under constant change, when applications become outdated, they often aren’t compatible with modern-day systems. Trying to keep legacy applications running smoothly, while meeting business demands can be both time-consuming and resource-intensive. Application modernisation enables organisations to consistently update their systems while keeping their operations running efficiently.
Why Do Enterprises Need Application Modernisation?
It can be challenging to embark on app modernisation when legacy systems have been a fundamental part of an organisation for many years. The old methods or technologies that are used often carry essential business tasks. However, while they seem to be helping businesses achieve their goals, legacy systems can provide many challenges. Older systems can be costly, difficult to maintain and unable to adapt to new business requirements.
App modernisation gives businesses the opportunity to improve upon their applications:
Speed – the modernisation of legacy apps to agile, web-based systems helps reduce the issues of cost and lack of resources. Modernised systems can be transformed more quickly, making businesses more agile and able to respond to market changes.
Scalability – applications operating in cloud-based systems can be accessed and maintained from anywhere. This makes it easier to review the automated processes of applications that reuse code and removes the issues of maintenance.
Engagement – by giving users a better platform, productivity, creativity and innovation can thrive. The real-time accessibility of modern apps results in easy data entry, increased security and improved customer service.
Business value – by supporting and enhancing existing applications, businesses are able to consider new opportunities and achieve increased revenue growth.
Accessibility – legacy apps can contain custom widgets that are difficult to navigate. By migrating to a web-based environment, businesses widen accessibility to a larger group of end-users.
Productivity – by building an update with an intuitive interface workforce productivity increases.
Adaptability – features become more flexible and able to integrate with other apps from external suppliers, devices and systems.
Approaches to Application Modernisation
When legacy systems begin to hold back the business initiatives that they were designed to support, modernisation is the obvious option. There are many ways to modernise legacy applications, but the best approach depends on the problem that needs to be solved. Gartner has predicted that of every dollar invested in digital business innovation until the end of 2020, at least three times that will be needed to modernise legacy applications. As such, it is vital for enterprises to spend money effectively and select the appropriate approach.
The principal approaches to application modernisation include:
Encapsulate – using an application programming interface (API) to encapsulate data and functions and make them available as services.
Re-host – redeploy the application to a new infrastructure without altering the application code or modifying its features and functions
Re-platform – migrate an application with minimal changes to the code or the features and functions it provides.
Refactor – restructure and optimise the existing code without changing its features and functions.
Re-engineer – alter the code architecture so the applications can be shifted to new applications with better capabilities.
Rebuild – rebuild or rewrite the application from scratch but maintain its scope and specifications
Replace – eliminate the application altogether and replace it with a new system.
The decision of which approach to use will be based around whether problems are primarily caused by technology, architecture or functionality.
Moving Legacy Apps to the Cloud
A popular approach to app modernisation is to move legacy apps to cloud-based environments. Cloud-based infrastructures, such as Microsoft Azure, enable faster development and can greatly reduce IT costs. When a significant amount of total spend on IT each year is dedicated to maintaining existing enterprise applications, modern cloud infrastructure promises substantial savings. On top of this, the cloud-environment gives enterprises the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
On-premise applications can be migrated to Microsoft Azure using a lift and shift process. There is no need to re-architect or use new code and migration is incredibly quick. However, the process offers less cloud value and limited automated app scaling. Alternatively, Azure uses containers to help quickly modernise applications and allows businesses to run more efficiently. The process involves an extra step but allows for improved productivity and DevOps agility, increased density and lower deployment cost.
The Future of App Modernisation
With over 80% of enterprises still just in the early stages digital innovation, app modernisation is set to become a critical way of embracing new technologies. Old infrastructure and traditional methods of building applications are restricting growth and limiting capabilities. On top of this, lack of agility is slowing down employees. Enterprises are tied down to running current processes, struggling with maintenance, and the result is very little room for innovation.
App modernisation allows for rapid innovation, facilitating new business models, optimising business processes and creating improved user experience. It is vital for all businesses to be able to connect their primary systems remotely through mobile devices in a secure and efficient manner if they are to achieve any competitive advantage. Irrespective of how old the systems are, businesses will be expected to ensure that they can do the job and integrate with more and more new technologies as they become available.
The Wicked WITCH
The Harwell Dekatron, otherwise known as the WITCH (Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing). The worlds oldest working digital computer – this 1950’s colossal machine is 2 metres tall, 6 metres wide and weighs two-and-a-half tonnes.