Application modernization helps rejuvenate an organization’s app portfolio, enabling the company to get more life or value from its existing apps.
Many companies turn to it because their apps are outdated, not performing, creating security risks, or have other issues, and trying to keep the apps up and running under current circumstances is either labor-intensive, costly, or perhaps impossible. Because apps are responsible for the overall management, creation, viewing, and editing of a company’s data, and each performs a specific operation to support the organization, it’s certainly not something to take lightly. However, by implementing best practices while carrying out an application modernization project, the organization can reap the benefits while minimizing or eliminating any risks associated with it.
Considerations for Application Modernization
Users/ Criticalness: The number of users, as well as how mission-critical the app is, will determine how the process is carried out.
Size/ Complexity: As the number of lines of code increase, the difficulty of updating increases as well. While seemingly similar, complexity relates to the intricacies of the coding used. Apps with basic functionality are easier to update than those with elaborate operations.
Existing Technology and Infrastructure: Oftentimes, legacy systems are reluctant to allow apps to spin away. Also, if the infrastructure was not designed to have individual apps separated out, even seemingly unrelated apps may be tied together or utilize processes from another.
Forms of Application Modernization
Migration: Legacy software often makes use of old coding languages, while newer options make use of the complexity afforded by advanced programming languages. A migration may include changing the programming language, so programming can be more advanced or integrated with new technology, or it may involve moving an app, in whole or in part, to a new environment, such as to the cloud.
Re-engineering: When legacy applications are revived or have their lives extended by taking them apart and rebuilding them on a new platform or type of technology, this is referred to as “re-engineering.” In some cases, the app is rebuilt exactly as it was, while other times enhancements are made.
Re-hosting: While some definitions describe re-hosting as moving an app in its intact entirety to a new environment, others consider it to be a form of “jailbreaking.” Much like phones of the early 2000s were locked down to a single provider, and people came up with hacks to enable them to take their phones to a new carrier, some legacy providers have locked down their apps to prevent them from moving. However, this means that the code can’t be adapted or the IT department may be required to use expensive proprietary hardware to continue to use the app. In some cases, when legacy software is no longer supported, being locked-in is like a death sentence for the app. Therefore, re-hosting under these circumstances involves finding a way to pull the app out of its shell and then move it to a new environment.
Package Implementation: When legacy apps can be replaced with off-the-shelf software, this is referred to as package implementation.
Application Modernization Best Practices
- Get executive buy-in early. Even before a plan is framed out, it’s important to bring key decision-makers into the loop. Obviously, they can halt a project at any point, so their buy-in is necessary, but early adoption of a plan by execs ensures they’ll pave the way for the changes to come, such as allocating resources as needed and ensuring the team gets downtime when it’s necessary. It’s also worth noting that the executive team needs transparency and should be made aware of all the potential issues as well as the benefits.
- Create a comprehensive roadmap before starting any changes. Whenever possible, consult with an unbiased third-party to ensure you’ll only be replacing the apps and infrastructure that truly need it, and frame all changes around the businesses needs as a whole.
- Complete updates one at a time. This makes it easier to troubleshoot, should issues arise, and helps to minimize downtime.
- Test and test some more. Before an app is rolled out to the general population, it should be tested at length by the IT team and by a select group of end-users, as the end-users will catch different issues.
- Monitor after deployment. While catching bugs and performance issues is important, it’s equally important to track the value of an application modernization project. For this reason, metrics should be defined in advance, so that the IT team can show off its success using real data.
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