Application Modernization: One of the critical levers of Digital Transformation
As most of you are aware, the Digital Transformation (DT or DX) mainly helps the organization to enable rapid innovation in launching and rolling out new business models, products, optimize business processes, and respond to new requirements of both external and internal customers (i.e. Internal functions & employees).
While achieving the above goals is comparatively a smooth task for the digital-native organizations, it’s a herculean task for the traditional organizations especially with the legacy applications stack – hence there’s a need for ‘Application Modernization’. Though it’s a technology driven initiative, but I’ll try to elucidate it along with the business benefits to keep the interest of all stakeholders alive.
Let us first demystify the term App Modernization and its need, “Application or App Modernization entails the redesigning and migration of legacy applications to the latest technology design, architecture and underlying infrastructure, offering latest functionalities as per the current and futuristic business goals”. It may leverages emerging technology concepts and tools such as Micro services, DevOps, Cloud, Containers etc. to make it aligned to latest technology stack and extend the life for next few years before it becomes legacy again.
Some of the key benefits of ‘App Modernization’ are summarized below:
- Speed & Agility – Improve Agility of new feature delivery and enable business to launch new products and services in a quick time
- Services based architecture (Micro services) – To enable business in partnering with third parties e.g. Online channels, Delivery partners etc without spending too much time on backend integration
- Performance and Scalability – Cloud native applications will render better performance and scalability in a cost effective and secured manner. Thus it will provide the scalability to handle the spikes due to any specific event e.g. Festive season or New launches
- Security & Support – Most legacy platforms restrict in terms of available security patches, support from OEM’s and availability of support skilled manpower with time. Upgrading the same helps us to align with all of these aspects
Needless to say that mainly due to above reasons, it’s one of the critical levers of ‘Digital Transformation’. The App Modernization mainly entails the following components:
- Containers – Containers helps package a solution to enhance portability, computing capabilities and also reduce the dependencies on underlying infrastructure. It provides the flexibility to switch to any cloud hosting provider depending upon the requirements E.g. Kubernetes – a container orchestrator platform was first developed by Google few years back
- Microservices – Microservices is a design pattern where application components comprise of modular and separate processes that exchange data seamlessly through API/Services. Thus enabling seamless integration with third parties
- DevOps – DevOps simply combines the Software development with IT Operations. It helps expedite the development cycle through continuous delivery with quality, scalability and security
- Mobility – Mobile enabled applications is one of the key aspect to enhance the customer experience, improve operational efficiency – access from anytime, anywhere
- Artificial Intelligence/ML – Modern technologies like AI, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Chatbots, Cognitive Services, help deliver smarter apps that can speak, listen, act, and think.
- Data Availability – Real time or Near Real time data is critical for the business to achieve operational efficiency, make quick decisions, enhance customer experience to gain competitive edge
- Enhanced Security – Enhanced and integrated security across all layers instead of reactive and fragmented approach
Now the big question is how traditional organizations should go about it, as it requires humongous execution efforts while ensuring business continuity. Hence I strongly recommend following the ‘Progressive approach’ instead of rocking the boat. The entire process can be divided into following stages to minimize the disruption and overall risk:
- Planning & Assessment – Evaluation of applications portfolio to identify the candidates which are more suitable to be migrated onto the cloud with minimal changes in Phase 1
- Cloud migration (Lift and Shift) – Migrate and host the applications onto the cloud platform. Also, DevOps should be included as part of the cloud setup to execute next steps
- App Modernization – Applications migrated onto cloud can be Rearchitect and Rebuild to include Containers, Microservices etc using the DevOps and Agile
- Continuous Improvement Continuous Development (CICD) – Finally, the optimization should be a CICD process that should include both technical and functional improvements in the application. It will also be help to deliver and demonstrate the overall value to the organization
While some organizations have already embarked on the ‘App Modernization’ journey and are in the advanced stages – some have just begun. There are some who are still mulling over it – they need to expedite to provide the agility and scalability to business, and ensure better preparedness for another unknown crisis in future.