Modernize Legacy Applications With This Practical Strategy

  • avril 23, 2020
NTT DATA Services AWS Blog

IT leaders are all too familiar with the 80/20 rule where 80% of efforts are spent on day-to-day operations and innovation receives the remaining 20%. Within this 80/20 balance, enterprises dedicate 80% of IT budgets on legacy system management and maintenance, according to an AltexSoft white paper. Yet, as the business pressures IT leaders to drive product and service innovation, it’s natural to turn to legacy application modernization.

Legacy applications, though based on outdated or even obsolete technology, often remain critical to daily business operations. As such, it’s important to have a practical approach to legacy apps that sustains the value they bring while modernizing them. This approach will result in greater agility that will make room for innovation.

Assess the situation
Legacy applications are like older homes. Before staring any renovation project, it’s advisable to assess the situation. Are there issues with the foundation, plumbing or the wiring? IT leaders should take a similar approach to their legacy application renovation, determining if there are issues with the code, architecture or something else altogether.

Is it the app or the data?
Nearly 90% of UK enterprises sustain legacy applications for their data, per Help Net Security. If your enterprise is in this boat, there are options. First, think about acquiring a prebuilt SaaS application or content repository and migrate the data to the new platform. Although this option may require data customization, the ROI should come in the form of IT resources freed up for strategic innovation.

Will it run in the cloud?
Does the application provide day-to-day business value? If so, the next question to ask is if it can run in the cloud. If it can, rehosting the application may be your best choice as it allows you to move the app to the cloud without code modification.

You may also think about reinstalling the app in the cloud. Such a move would allow the software to be with some cleanup to remove unnecessary software and configurations that may have accumulated over the years. Additionally, new best practices can be added.

If the answer is no, we recommend you seek a SaaS alternative, taking the steps to retire the app once one is found. If a SaaS alternative does not exist, think about rearchitecting enough of the application so that it can be moved to the cloud.

Add containers
Containers can help you optimize operations while realizing even greater digital innovation – all while decreasing overhead. Although this approach requires more resources at the outset, the path allows enterprises to modernize components (e.g. databases) which will provide even greater cloud benefits. Another benefit of containers is that they provide portability, which allows you to move the app to the cloud regardless of its dependencies.

The process of containerizing legacy applications requires staff who can revise application code to take advantage of cloud platform services like autoscaling. Doing so creates repeatability and stability as it the app is enabled to take advantage of some cloud functionality like immutable infrastructure and continuous integration and continuous delivery.

Maximize benefits with cloud-native architecture
A serverless approach offers the greatest potential upside as it reduces application management to the greatest degree and takes advantage of cloud-native services like Lambda and DynamoDB. The process of abstracting the application from its functions means those functions can run anywhere. In the process, this gives enterprises the opportunity to use advanced services that can create paradigm changes, like moving a legacy monolith to microservices. Although cloud-native may be a reach for many legacy applications, for those that can be rearchitected, it is an optimal way to maximize cost efficiencies and achieve the best cloud ROI.

Legacy application modernization can be resource-intensive; yet, it offers terrific potential upside, decreasing the significant time and resources spent managing them. Instead, these resources can be invested to provide digital innovation and operational excellence that gives staff more time to spend on strategic business initiatives.

*This was originally written by Flux7 Inc., which has become Flux7, an NTT DATA Services Company as of December 30, 2019

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Aater Suleman

Aater Suleman, Ph.D. is Vice President of Cloud Transformation at NTT DATA. He is a recognized thought leader and a frequent speaker at events including AWS re:Invent, Dockercon, TechWell and O’Reilly and regularly conducts corporate workshops on digital transformation. He is a Technology Council Contributor for Forbes. Dr. Suleman actively puts his background in technology and experience as a professor at the University of Austin to work designing systems for continuous improvement at the world’s leading brands.

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