Advancements in technology over the past decade have altered business processes, products, services and the way we communicate. This, coupled with the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a rapid acceleration of digital transformation as organisations restructure and adapt. Application modernisation forms a huge part of digital transformation and its inherent success.
Application modernisation promises many benefits, such as the chance to improve time to market and deliver rich customer experiences. However, while it offers many opportunities, there are also several challenges to overcome, not least the choice between different approaches, tools, services and platforms. To help overcome these challenges, Microsoft has tried to build a one-stop shop for companies looking to modernise. Microsoft Azure offers cutting-edge features and benefits to help Azure developers modernise applications and leverage the benefits of the cloud.
What is Application Modernisation?
Application modernisation is the transformation of legacy applications, infrastructure and code to better align with business objectives. It starts with a set of existing on-premises applications that are gradually moved to cloud-based infrastructure. However, there are several ways to approach it, some relatively straightforward and others more involved, each with its own trade-offs. The best choice depends on the app in question, the budget and the capabilities of the technology partner. The most common strategies for application modernisation include:
- Rehosting on-premises applications to the cloud with almost no changes.
- Replatforming applications so they can leverage basic cloud platform services.
- Refactoring application architecture to gain more cloud-related benefits.
- Rewriting applications to make them fully cloud-native.
- Replacing applications with a new SaaS application.
Why Move Applications to the Cloud?
Businesses can spend a huge amount of time and money maintaining existing applications and, by doing so, are hindering innovation, struggling with inflexible and poorly integrated solutions and fighting rising maintenance costs. As businesses realise this, the obvious choice is to gradually upgrade and modernise applications.
However, transitioning legacy apps as part of application modernisation can be a long journey. It often starts with the best of intentions. Sometimes the key driver will be to retire bespoke applications, find replacements for independent services that are no longer supported or lower reliance on mainframe-based applications. In other instances, organisations want to change their development culture and realise the benefits of cloud-native application development. However, app modernisation isn’t just about re-engineering products and services and moving them to the cloud. Done right, businesses can lower costs, improve time to market, boost productivity, improve operational efficiency, improve the customer experience and realise better security. However, the right cloud partner and a clear strategy are needed to avoid the common challenges along the way.
The Challenges of Application Modernisation
Unfortunately, while the benefits of application modernisation are clear, the process isn’t always an easy one. Application modernisation involves redefining, upgrading and aligning existing applications to meet changing business needs and leverages emerging technologies, tools and techniques. There are some inherent challenges that need to be addressed for modernisation to run smoothly:
- Skill gap – legacy applications often use technology that is almost obsolete, making maintenance difficult; interfering with the code may impact business operations. The talent needed to maintain these applications is becoming harder to find. This creates the need to embrace new technology, encourage the workforce to adopt new ways of working and hire developers with the latest cloud-native tools and frameworks.
- Cost constraints – while legacy application maintenance consumes a significant part of the IT budget, application modernisation can result in rising costs if not managed carefully. Without a clear strategy, unknown dependencies and complex architectures can cause costs to rise quickly.
- Resistance to change – legacy applications were built to meet traditional business models. However, to embrace digital transformation, businesses and their employees need to become more agile and find new ways of doing business. Only in doing this can they build the seamless customer experience that modernisation promises.
Many efforts toward application modernisation fail due to inertia and the complexity involved in evolving legacy applications. Taking the above challenges into account, investing in the right tools and platforms is key to success.
Why Choose Azure for Application Modernisation?
Microsoft Azure is one of the most popular solutions for application modernisation; it offers solutions for almost every possible business scenario and enables businesses to build, deploy and operate applications at scale and at speed. The cloud computing service is enterprise-ready, giving businesses the opportunity to leverage existing knowledge and technology. Moreover, it provides a stable yet flexible base for existing and new app development. With a plethora of tools, developers have everything they need for advanced development, monitoring, debugging and telemetry. Some of the unique benefits of using Azure include:
- Optimisation – businesses can increase or decrease resources on demand based on their needs. What’s more, Azure has built-in monitoring tools to help them allocate these resources in seconds without impacting operations. With integrated analytics, IT teams can better understand their applications and make improvements on the go.
- Speed – with solutions like platform as a service (PaaS) and serverless architecture, businesses are able to respond faster to changing customer requirements. By analysing how customers interact with applications, they can work to deliver better experiences.
- Intelligence – Azure helps to create new system efficiencies and intelligence. Teams across the business have instant access to relevant data and are empowered to make better decisions. There is also the opportunity to experiment with new products and services to make improvements across different workflows.
- Value – Azure enables faster time to market, enhanced agility and faster innovation. By enabling the creation of small, independent, easy-to-deploy and scale components, businesses can gain a competitive edge. What’s more, Azure customers only pay for what they use and reduce hardware and maintenance costs.
- Security – Azure offers enhanced security by building better security protocols against phishing and threat attacks. Azure also offers greater compliance by constantly introducing new updates and guidelines.
Is Azure the Right Solution for Your Business?
There is little choice as to whether you modernise your applications, not unless you want to fall behind the competition and become unable to serve your customers. For any business that needs to accelerate time to market, deliver more innovative experiences, improve security and reliability, and optimise costs, they can look to Azure. Azure supports the entire range of applications and provides free migration tools and support that make it easy to get started. Azure customers can benefit from built-in scalability, high availability, an enterprise-grade SLA-backed uptime of 99.9%, and Microsoft’s strong partner ecosystem of service offerings. Ultimately, with Azure, you can engage your customers, enable your customers and transform your products.