As organizations move their applications and systems to the cloud, they face new choices and challenges. With technological advancements, businesses need to adapt if they want to ensure their sustainability.
This begs various questions, such as: How can they best take advantage of all the benefits of the cloud while preserving their existing investments? When should they modernize their applications, and how?
In this post, we’ll explore some best practices for application modernization and hybrid cloud. Not just that, but it would entail DevOps, migrating legacy applications to the cloud, and the benefits of using a hybrid or multi-cloud environment.
What Is Application Modernization?
Application modernization is the strategic process of re-architecting and re-platforming legacy applications to leverage contemporary technology architectures, platforms, and workflows. It constitutes a pivotal element of an organization’s digital transformation efforts
All these efforts aim to enhance the agility, responsiveness, and scalability of existing applications to align with the demands of a digital business landscape. In this pursuit, DevOps emerges as a potent enabler, expediting and optimizing the application modernization process.
Various factors drive the growing need for choosing the application and cloud modernization services, such as:
- The need to support new business models or processes
- Improve application performance and scalability
- Enhance integration with other systems
- Migrate to advanced technology platforms or architectures
- Reduce the costs associated with maintaining legacy applications
While going through these things can be complex and require huge investment, its successful execution can lead to substantial benefits. For instance, it can provide heightened agility, reduced costs, and provide a competitive edge.
Application Modernization Services
Application modernization services entail the DevOps best practices and toolsets that assist in modernizing an application. The goals of application modernization include making the application more cloud-native, scalable, flexible, and DevOps-friendly.
You can find reliable DevOps service providers like CloudShape that offer DevOps and application modernization services, including interoperability, recoding, re-architecting, re-hosting, re-engineering, and retirement, among others. These services can help organizations with the overall DevOps pipeline and process, from development through deployment to operations. Some of these companies include:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Why Are Companies Preferring Legacy Modernization?
In today’s fast-paced business landscape, legacy modernization has become a go-to strategy for companies seeking to revamp their systems and applications. The reasons behind this trend are crystal clear:
First and foremost, legacy modernization empowers organizations with enhanced agility. By refreshing outdated systems and applications, they gain the ability to swiftly respond to changes and adapt seamlessly to new market conditions. This revitalization journey also unlocks better performance, scalability, and heightened security, bolstering their overall capabilities.
Another key benefit of legacy modernization is that it can help reduce costs. Updating old systems and applications can often lead to significant reductions in both hardware and software costs. Moreover, the streamlining effect extends to manual processes. As a result, it will further cut down your expenses.
Last but not least, legacy modernization helps you in improving the overall customer experience. By updating systems and applications, organizations can provide their customers with a better overall experience. They can also increase their efficiency, improving customer satisfaction levels, by accessing cloud-native technology.
Indeed, legacy modernization offers a wide range of benefits. However, it is important to weigh the potential benefits against the challenges that may be encountered during the process. Let’s go over them in the next section to give you a better idea about them.
Legacy Application Modernization Challenges
Organizations face a constant demand to achieve more with limited resources in changing world. Quick responses to market changes and faster software delivery are essential, but the burden of legacy applications, built on outdated technology and processes, slows them down. Maintaining these legacy systems becomes costly and time-consuming, hindering the adoption of modern engineering practices like DevOps and DevSecOps.
The path to modernization isn’t without its challenges. However, tackling these challenges will allow you to reap the benefits of application modernization. Let’s go over some top issues that you can encounter.
The first hurdle is vendor lock-in, where legacy applications are tightly linked to specific vendors and technologies. As a result, it can make switching to alternatives costly and complex.
Another challenge lies in technical debt, which is the accumulated amount of work that needs to be done to maintain or improve an application. It can arise from using outdated technology, poorly written code, or a lack of documentation. As technical debt accumulates, the cost and effort required to maintain the application will start to increase.
Dependencies on Outdated Technology
Legacy applications often depend on outdated technology and unsupported infrastructures like SAP, Oracle, Siebel, or PeopleSoft. Therefore, it poses obstacles to staying up-to-date and adopting DevOps practices. It can also make it hard to adopt DevOps practices, as DevOps requires a continuous delivery pipeline that is reliant on modern tooling and infrastructure.
However, all is not lost! Organizations can deal with these obstacles with a strategic modernization approach. They can go for the DevOps Services and Solutions that can them navigate through these issues. By embracing a forward-thinking mindset with a reliable service provider, organizations can thrive in a dynamic and competitive digital world.
Why Do Businesses Refrain From Modernizing Their Outdated Legacy Applications?
The decision to modernize outdated legacy applications is often hindered by various challenges that businesses must carefully consider. Let’s delve into the primary reasons that hold them back from embarking on this transformative journey.
Modernizing Cost and Project Duration Will Be High
Firstly, the cost and project duration involved in modernization can be daunting. Modernizing an application can be a very costly endeavor, particularly if the application is large and complex. Large and complex applications demand substantial investment, and the process may span several years. Such long-term commitments can disrupt businesses and delay returns on their investment, making them wary of leaping.
Compatibility of Legacy Systems with New Systems Cannot Work Smoothly
Compatibility issues between new and legacy systems present another stumbling block. Often, legacy applications are not compatible with new systems and need to be completely rewritten to work correctly. This can be a very time-consuming and expensive process, as it requires significant technical expertise. Additionally, it can be difficult to ensure that all data and functionality from the old system is retained in the new system.
Integrating On-Premises and Cloud Infrastructure Will Be Highly Disruptive
The lack of seamless integration often necessitates complete rewrites of legacy applications, a time-consuming and expensive endeavor that requires specialized technical expertise. Ensuring the preservation of all data and functionality during this transition adds to the complexity, risking potential disruptions and data loss. This can lead to significant disruptions and downtime for businesses, which can be costly and damaging to their reputation.
The challenge of integrating on-premises and cloud infrastructure further complicates matters. Legacy applications, designed for on-premises setups, struggle to smoothly migrate to the cloud. Insufficient expertise to configure and maintain cloud-based systems only exacerbates the problem, leading to costly downtime and disruptions, harming the business’s reputation.
However, despite these obstacles, the advantages of modernizing eventually entice many businesses to undertake such projects. Modernized applications offer easier maintenance, improved reliability, and reduced long-term operational costs. They become more efficient, streamlined tools that boost productivity and may come with exciting new features to propel the organization forward.
Application Modernization Tools
Application modernization tools are a key part of DevOps and DevSecOps pipelines. They help organizations move their applications from older, monolithic architectures to more modern, microservices-based designs. This shift can be painful, but it is necessary to stay competitive in today’s digital world.
There are many different application modernization tools on the market, each with its strengths and weaknesses. It is important to choose the right tool for your specific needs. Otherwise, you may end up wasting time and money on a tool that does not work well for you.
Application modernization tools include:
- Cloud-Native Buildpacks: A build pack is a collection of software dependencies that are used to compile and run an application. Cloud-Native Buildpacks are designed for use in cloud environments and provide a way to build reproducible images without the need for a Dockerfile.
- Kubernetes Operators: An Operator is a method of packaging, deploying, and managing a Kubernetes application like Anthos. Kubernetes Operators use custom resources to manage the lifecycle of an application and can automate tasks such as rollouts and rollbacks, scaling, and monitoring.
- Google Anthos: Google Anthos is a tool that enables developers to modernize their applications and make them cloud-native. It offers a unique set of capabilities that allow developers to containerize their applications, deploy them on-premise or in the cloud, and manage them using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). Anthos also helps businesses to modernize across multiple clouds, which allows them to avoid vendor lock-in. Anthos is used as the on-premises management platform for Kubernetes, GKE, AWS EKS, and Azure AKS.
- DevSecOps and Shifting Testing: DevSecOps is a new approach to software development that emphasizes collaboration between developers and security professionals. Shifting Testing is a technique that allows testers to focus on more important tests by running less important ones in parallel. Both of these can help make the application modernization process more efficient and effective.
Application Modernization Best Practices
Application modernization is a crucial process aimed at updating existing applications to leverage new hardware capabilities and features. The primary objective is to enhance performance, scalability, and security while reducing operational costs.
There are many factors to consider when modernizing an application. DevSecOps teams must shift left in their testing practices to ensure that new code integrates seamlessly with legacy code. Apart from that, they need to keep an eye on applications for risks and vulnerabilities. In addition, they must track performance metrics to measure the success of the modernization effort.
The following are Best practices for Application Modernization:
Create a Modernization Team
Forming a dedicated modernization team ensures clear ownership and responsibility for driving the process forward. This focused approach enables efficient and effective project completion, aligned with business requirements.
There are several reasons why having a centralized team responsible for modernization efforts is so important. For starters, it holds someone accountable by giving them clear ownership and responsibility for moving the process ahead. This can be critical in ensuring that projects stay on track and do not get bogged down by internal politics or other distractions.
Another key benefit of having a dedicated modernization team is that it allows for more focused attention on the technical aspects of the process. It can be a critical element in ensuring that projects are completed efficiently and effectively. Not just that, it also ensures that they meet the needs of the business.
Intelligently Automate Everything Possible
Smart automation of repetitive tasks, like testing, deployments, and monitoring, frees up valuable time for DevOps and development teams. This allows them to concentrate on more critical tasks, such as developing new features and improving software quality, leading to greater reliability and fewer errors.
By automating the tasks that are most commonly repeated, teams can focus their energy on more important tasks, such as developing new features and improving software quality. In addition, automating these processes can also help to improve reliability and consistency, as well as reduce errors.
There are many different ways to automate tasks in DevOps and development workflows. One popular approach is to use automation tools. These tools can be used to automatically run tests, deploy code changes, and monitor applications for errors. Another approach is to use scripts or code snippets to automate tasks. For example, shell scripts can be used to automate the process of running tests or deploying code changes.
Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, and Continuous Modernization
Incorporating the DevSecOps best practices facilitates streamlined software development and risk reduction. As DevOps methodologies continue to grow in popularity, so too does the concept of continuous integration, continuous deployment, and continuous modernization. These DevSecOps practices are often used together to streamline software development processes and reduce risks.
Shifting left has become a popular mantra in the DevOps world. With the help of Shifting testing earlier in the development process (shifting left), it would accelerate issue identification and resolution. Consequently, it will contribute towards saving time and costs.
Continuous integration is a practice that calls for developers to integrate code changes into a shared repository frequently, preferably multiple times per day. By integrating early and often, developers can avoid the problems that can come from large, infrequent code changes.
Continuous deployment automatically deploys code changes to production after integration, providing faster feedback and quicker feature releases.
Continuous modernization is a DevSecOps practice that helps organizations keep their software up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates. By continuously applying these updates, organizations can reduce the risk of vulnerabilities and exploits.
Deep Application Observability
Deep application observability is a term used to describe the ability to monitor all aspects of an application’s behavior, including its underlying infrastructure. Monitoring an application’s behavior, including infrastructure, provides a complete performance picture.
There are several reasons why deep application observability is an important part of DevOps and application modernization.
- Proactively identifying and averting potential outages by detecting issues before they escalate into significant problems.
- Gaining a comprehensive view of your application’s performance enables the identification of otherwise elusive issues.
- Facilitating swift and efficient troubleshooting of problems.
Several tools and techniques can help you achieve deep application observability. For example, many DevOps teams use monitoring tools to collect data on application performance. Log analysis tools can also help track important events and identify issues. Finally, distributed tracing tools can help you understand the flow of requests through your application.
Modernize the Process of Landscape
The software development industry’s processes and tools continually evolve. What was once considered “modern” can quickly become outdated, and what is now considered a best practice may soon be replaced by something better. And this is the primary reason for Organizations to regularly reassess their process landscape and update practices as needed. This entire process is known as application modernization.
There are many reasons why an organization might choose to modernize its processes. For instance, they are finding that their current tools and practices can no longer fulfill their requirements. Or maybe they want to get a competitive edge and ensure they are using the most advanced methods. Whatever the reason, there are a few key things to keep in mind when modernizing the process landscape.
An important thing to consider when modernizing is DevSecOps. It is a methodology that combines Development, Operations, and Security into a single continuous process. This helps to ensure that all aspects of the software development life cycle are taken into account and that security is built into the very fabric of the application.
Track Performance Metrics
In the journey of modernizing applications, keeping a close eye on performance is vital for achieving success. Various performance metrics can be monitored during application modernization, including:
- Response Time: The duration between sending a request and receiving the corresponding response.
- Throughput: The number of requests processed per unit of time, indicating system efficiency.
- CPU Utilization: The percentage of CPU capacity used by the application, reflecting resource usage.
- Memory Usage: The amount of memory employed by the application, highlighting resource consumption.
Tracking these performance metrics will help to identify bottlenecks and potential issues during application modernization. It is also important to track these metrics over time to see how the application’s performance changes as the application is modernized. This will help to ensure that the application’s performance is improving as expected.
DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) identifies four key metrics that correlate with high-performing organizations. The four metrics are lead time for changes, deployment frequency, mean time to recover, and change failure rate.
- Lead time for changes is the total time it takes from when a code change is made to when it is successfully deployed into production.
- Deployment frequency is the number of times an organization can deploy code changes per day.
- Meantime to recover is the average amount of time it takes to recover from an incident.
- The change failure rate is the percentage of changes that are rolled back or fail upon the first attempt.
Organizations that perform better on these metrics are also more likely to have higher rates of organizational performance, such as faster time to market, lower DevOps costs, and fewer unplanned work hours.
How to Modernize Legacy Apps for Hybrid Cloud
Many enterprises possess a mix of applications, ranging from cloud-native to legacy apps that have undergone updates over time. The challenge faced by DevOps teams lies in effectively managing both types of apps, especially concerning updates and deployments consistently and efficiently.
Transitioning to Hybrid Cloud
Modernizing a legacy app for a hybrid cloud entails understanding its architecture and how it will operate in the new environment. DevOps teams should also consider application refactoring, as well as business continuity and disaster recovery plans. The critical factors to consider during the modernization process are as follows.
Partitioning the Application for Hybrid Cloud
An initial step in modernizing a legacy application for a hybrid cloud involves partitioning it into smaller, more manageable segments. This approach eases the migration of application parts to the cloud without disrupting the entire system. Concurrently, DevOps teams can work on distinct application segments independently, minimizing interference with each other’s tasks.
One effective partitioning method involves breaking the application down into microservices. Microservices are autonomous, small-scale services that can operate and deploy separately from other components. This characteristic facilitates streamlined updates and deployments, making them highly suitable for DevOps teams.
Refactor the Application
Once an application has been partitioned, it will need to be refactored to work in a DevOps environment. Refactoring is the process of making code changes that improve its structure and organization without changing its functionality.
Common reasons for refactoring include:
- Enhancing code quality
- Improving maintainability
- Reducing complexity
- Enhancing performance
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
In modernizing a legacy application for a hybrid cloud, it is essential to address business continuity and disaster recovery concerns. Migrated applications become more susceptible to outages and failures, necessitating contingency plans to ensure uninterrupted operations.
A widely adopted strategy involves leveraging multiple Availability Zones (AZs). AZs are separate locations within a region designed to operate independently in the event of a failure in one AZ. This setup guarantees continued application access and functionality even during an outage.
Security and Governance
When migrating a legacy application to the cloud, it is essential to consider security and governance. Legacy applications may have been developed using insecure practices or without considering compliance requirements. Consequently, it might be necessary to rewrite them to meet modern security and compliance standards.
Some common security and compliance standards that may need to be considered include:
- PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
- GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
In the process of migrating a legacy application to the cloud, careful selection of the right applications is crucial. Not all applications are inherently suitable for DevOps or hybrid cloud environments. Key considerations when selecting applications encompass the following factors:
- Support for DevOps processes and tools
- Cloud-native or cloud-friendly architecture
- Security and compliance requirements
Migrating Legacy Applications
Legacy applications can be migrated to the cloud using a variety of methods, depending on the size and complexity of the application. Some standard methods include:
- Lift & Shift: Also known as “re-platforming” this involves moving an application to the cloud without making any changes to its code or architecture. This is the quickest and easiest way to migrate an application, but it may not be well suited for DevOps or hybrid cloud environments.
- Rehosting: This involves making some changes to an application’s code or architecture so that it can run in a cloud environment. This is more complex than lift and shift, but it can improve an application’s performance and scalability.
- Rewriting: This involves starting from scratch to create a new application that is designed to run in a cloud environment. This is the most time-consuming and expensive option, but it can be the best way to achieve DevOps or hybrid cloud objectives.
Benefits of a Multi- or Hybrid Cloud Deployment
In recent years, the cloud has gained widespread popularity among businesses for its multitude of advantages. Let’s go over the top benefits that you can get from embracing a multi- or hybrid cloud deployment.
Flexibility stands as a significant advantage in multi- or hybrid cloud deployment. Unlike traditional on-premises setups with limited physical servers, businesses can now seamlessly scale their capacity up or down. Modernizing application workloads to Kubernetes facilitates effortless adjustments. Employing cloud bursting further enables quick capacity expansions during peak demands and effortless scaling down when the demand subsides. This enhanced flexibility empowers businesses to swiftly adapt to changing needs.
Budget-Friendly and Cost-Effective
Multi- or hybrid cloud deployment yields significant cost savings. In traditional on-premises environments, businesses bear the burden of purchasing and maintaining hardware and employing specialized staff to manage servers.
Through multi- or hybrid cloud deployment, businesses can sidestep these expenses. Embracing cloud services from reputable providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) allows businesses to pay solely for the resources they consume, aligning costs with actual usage. This “pay-as-you-go” model translates into substantial cost savings, particularly for businesses experiencing fluctuating resource demands.
The adoption of multi- or hybrid cloud deployment enables businesses to thrive with increased agility, cost efficiency, and scalability. This transformative shift empowers enterprises to maximize their potential and meet dynamic challenges with ease.
To summarize it all, application modernization entails upgrading outdated legacy systems to newer and more efficient platforms. Despite the challenges associated with this endeavor, the potential benefits are significant. Cost and project duration worries often deter businesses from pursuing modernization. Nevertheless, with a strategic approach, these obstacles can be surmounted. By adhering to these guidelines, your business can seamlessly transition to a hybrid cloud infrastructure, unlocking its full potential in the digital era.