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9.26 min to readApplication Services

What is application modernisation?

SoftwareOne blog editorial team
Blog Editorial Team
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Today’s organisations rely on a complex mix of applications ranging from custom applications to on-premises and software-as-a-service providers. Many also depend on legacy applications to drive their most important business processes, including enterprise resource planning, HR, finance, and sales. As outdated applications fail to keep pace, companies must invest in modernising these applications while managing the complexities of their larger hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

Companies have spent years, or even decades, building their technology systems. Now, organisations need solutions that help increase agility, introduce modern features and capabilities, and align application delivery with the realities of a remote, on-the-go workforce.

Traditional approaches to application management and modernisation have proven ineffective and costly, and make it difficult to stay on the cutting edge. Today’s leading businesses are moderniszing applications to increase business process efficiency, drive innovation, and bring new products to market faster than ever before. Here’s a closer look at how the right partner can help make your digital transformation a reality.

The basics of Application Modernisation

According to research from Spiceworks, 64% of organiations report that updating legacy systems is a core IT spend driver. Legacy application modernisation is a process where organisations assess their current applications ecosystem, determine performance gaps and improvement opportunities, and then develop strategies for introducing modern features and capabilities.

Different paths exist to application modernisation, helping to introduce the latest functionalities and better align performance, security, resiliency, elasticity, modularity, interoperability challenges and the automation of operational tasks with your needs. Depending on your business goals, and the current state of the application you are modernising, paths to consider include:

  • Replacing the application with a software-as-a-service solution and ensuring a successful data migration.
  • Taking a “lift and shift” approach and redeploying the application as-is on a cloud host to modernise features and increase overall agility.
  • Re-platform an application with slight coding changes to make it suitable to a cloud PaaS, and with this enabling the ability to thrive in a cloud environment. The re-platform approach (if the application can be re-platformed) is a low hanging fruit because is a short term initiative, a quick win.
  • Re-architecting (or refactoring) applications is a more intensive approach to modernising, using techniques for decomposing existing legacy applications into microservices (that later can be containerised), gaining mainly business agility, stability, and the possibility of supporting unexpected peaks thanks to cloud services.
  • Rebuilding the application as a cloud-native application to fully leverage cloud capabilities and be able to have an application that responds to the actual and expected business demands. Rebuilding or refactoring is the real goal for our clients, but also involves the greatest level of effort.

An experienced partner can help you assess your goals, budget, and timelines to determine which path is right for a specific application or your overall technology application management strategy.

SoftwareOne's definition is simple:

We believe that application modernisation refers to changing application source code and architecture to leverage cloud platforms and native services. Doing so enables business agility, optimises costs, and improves development practices and speed. In essence, making the cloud the real cloud.

Companies want to work with a partner who can look at their application portfolio, help them create a plan, migrate and modernize what makes sense, optimize their cloud spend, and help their employees improve their skills and practices along the way.

The 7 Rs of optimised cloud adoption

Application modernisation can mean different things to different people. At SoftwareOne, we use a concept called the 7 Rs to facilitate conversations about the decisions businesses can make to assess and modernise applications. Our model is based upon similar migration strategy descriptions from Gartner and AWS.

Pathways for Cloud Adoption, source: SoftwareOne

Getting onto the cloud quickly

Sometimes it’s necessary to move fast. Whether this is because of internal politics or a push to divest from data centres, the following strategies can help get a company onto the cloud efficiently while setting it up for more thorough optimisation later on.

Rehosting is a practical option. Otherwise known as lift and shift, this involves moving applications from their physical servers to virtual machines in the cloud. It requires little, if any, significant change to the underlying code, but it does mean the applications will have many of the same limitations as they did on-premises.

Nevertheless, it can be a good option for companies that need to get on the cloud quickly.

A second option is relocating. This term refers to transferring a large number of servers from an on-premises platform to the cloud version of that platform. Relocating is rapid and does not require architectural or code changes.

Replatforming is also a possibility for getting onto the cloud quickly. It requires making only minimal changes to move an application to the cloud. Automated replatforming is mostly done with simple applications but can also act as an intermediate step. With this approach, companies can reduce costs by hosting their migrated applications on a shared platform instead of a reserved virtual machine.

Modernising more thoroughly

Modernising applications and workloads requires more effort, but it enables companies to take full advantage of the cloud’s benefits.

Refactoring involves making greater changes to an application depending on its actual state and modernisation drivers. For example, an application could be tweaked slightly to take it to the cloud while reducing technical debt. Or, a business could decompose a monolithic application to improve scalability and maintainability or solve performance and security issues, among other objectives. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in refactoring, so it is important to define a clear heavy, medium, or light scope.

Ultimately, the goal is to have a more cloud-native application, considering that refactoring can be done all at once or iteratively — allowing companies to gradually reduce their technical debt and legacy inefficiencies.

In-house strategies

Repurchasing is a straightforward modernisation strategy that involves either buying a SaaS software product to replace a custom application completely or moving an application’s architectural components from traditional use licences to newer versions or third-party equivalents in the cloud. This strategy essentially trades a high degree of customisation for low maintenance costs, making it a smart financial choice for applications that are not tied to a competitive advantage.

Alternatively, teams can decide to retire specific applications. These applications are decommissioned because they generally no longer serve any business need, either because they have aged out or the business has changed.

In-house teams often choose to retain applications as a more straightforward strategic approach. This option is meant for applications or workloads that function better in the current on-premise environment. It may be preferable when there are highly regulated workloads or significant privacy concerns.

Do companies need a partner when modernizing their applications?

Working with an experienced cloud solution services partner is essential for most companies. A technology services team can bring deep expertise, repeatable assets, and automated tools that in-house teams do not have, getting you to outcomes more quickly. A partner can also help you create a vision and a roadmap for your application portfolio’s future state – one built with business goals and current technical constraints in mind. As a result, the modernisation project is de-risked through a strong business case and thorough discovery and assessment.

Finally, it is important to remember that a top partner has been involved with many projects and has had an opportunity to see the results of application modernisation at scale. They can guide customers starting this journey to think about automation, data governance, security, costs, and other levers in the early stages.

Case study: City of Frankfurt

The City Government of Frankfurt, Germany relied on bespoke development of its business-critical applications. When end-of-life support for the technology within those apps neared, the city turned to SoftwareOne to rebuild its application portfolio and reduce technical debt and unnecessary IT expenses. Six applications were rapidly modernised and adapted to current business and security requirements, making the work of the city administration more cost-efficient, secure, productive, and user-friendly.

Read more

Building an application modernisation strategy

According to McKinsey, CIOs recently said that “10 to 20 percent of the technology budget dedicated to new products is diverted to resolving issues related to tech debt. More troubling still, CIOs estimated that tech debt amounts to 20 to 40 percent of the value of their entire technology estate before depreciation.”

There is no doubt that application modernisation is critical. Without it, organisations tend to waste up to 32 percent of their cloud spending, according to Flexera.

Modernisation is an investment in your future but has the potential to interrupt business as usual if not well-planned and executed. Partnering with an expert advisor is a significant first step. At SoftwareOne, we have a pragmatic approach to optimised cloud adoption and provide flexible services to help you accomplish your goals wherever you are in the journey.

With global reach, end-to-end services, and strong partnerships with Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and Google, SoftwareOne delivers on the promise of cloud. Unlike other cloud solution services partners, SoftwareOne is a leader in software and cloud financial management. We’ll show you how to make your current IT investments count while bringing your business forward.

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Modern platforms, applications, and practices

A realistic and sustainable cloud strategy accelerates development, strengthens security, reduces costs, and improves performance and resiliency. Are you getting all you can out of cloud?

Modern platforms, applications, and practices

A realistic and sustainable cloud strategy accelerates development, strengthens security, reduces costs, and improves performance and resiliency. Are you getting all you can out of cloud?


SoftwareOne blog editorial team

Blog Editorial Team

We analyse the latest IT trends and industry-relevant innovations to keep you up-to-date with the latest technology.