October 20, 2021
When it comes to delivering incredible and functional user experiences, you don’t always need to look at building apps from scratch. Sometimes, the best way to harness the power and benefits of modern technology stacks can be to modernise your existing applications.
Rather than retiring an existing system or replacing it, modernisation can extend the lifespan of an app while also ensuring your business is able to achieve greater innovation and agility to better meet outcomes and objectives.
When considering whether to modernise apps, begin by asking some questions. For a start, do your applications meet your current and emerging requirements, or are they built on what you needed in the past? Is your technology helping you meet your objectives, or is it hindering ongoing innovation?
We’ve seen many instances where businesses will try to realise business objectives with existing and largely outdated applications, which inevitably holds them back. Common issues with outdated technology include increased security risks, an inability to meet changing customer demands and high maintenance costs.
Unsupported platforms can leave customers vulnerable to cybersecurity threats, as well as creating compliance issues. When it comes to security, legacy technology stacks aren’t robust enough to protect against increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, and the fallout of personal data breaches can be severe.
It’s also undeniable that business to customer relationships are changing, and changing demands are driving businesses to improve services, empower customer engagement, meet data privacy or regulatory commitments, and provide omnichannel experiences. In a nutshell, modern users want modern interfaces and services that are compatible with modern devices.
Legacy applications or platforms can also be very expensive to maintain, in addition to lacking features and capability of modern iterations. App modernisation may be an upfront investment, but it can lead to greater savings down the road - for instance, reducing or eliminating the need for expensive data centres.
Modernising applications can bring many benefits to businesses. It can result in businesses being able to tap into new features and functionality, such as load balancers, autoscaling and containerised applications, for better performance, enhanced reliability and reduced the risk of downtime.
For security, legacy applications and platforms where support contracts have expired will be an easy target for attackers. Updating systems can eliminate vulnerabilities, and ensure the business is adhering to security protocols and receiving required bug fixes or updates. A modernised system can effectively make use of a vendor’s support services and reduce the risk of a breach.
Modernising applications can save money by streamlining certain tasks and operations, reducing time spent on maintenance, and automating common manual processes to free up teams so they can work on higher value activities. The technology becomes an enabler for teams to work on ambitious short and long term goals, instead of focusing mainly on keeping the lights on.
Finally, delivering better user experiences is a significant benefit of app modernisation. Creating experiences that are highly usable, intuitive, engaging and reliable will reduce the pressure on customer support teams, help to boost brand reputation and inspire customer loyalty.
Application modernisation is more than just an upgrade. It’s about bringing an organisation up to speed with the demands of the digital world and building a path to future innovation. To make sure you’re getting the best from your investment, you must first be clear about your existing and future business requirements and objectives. This will help to define what you need and make the entire process more efficient. Once your requirements are clear you can consider the options available and create a step by step modernisation roadmap.
Three popular modes of modernising applications are known as ‘lift and shift’, replatforming and refactoring.
Arguably the least intensive approach is lift and shift, also known as rehosting. This describes taking an existing application and moving it from a legacy environment, for instance an on-premises server, to newer infrastructure, such as a public cloud platform. The idea is that you can move the app as it is with minimal changes to the underlying code. Some parties argue that this doesn’t allow businesses to capitalise fully on the benefits of cloud, such as progressive delivery, auto-scaling and satellite capability. However, it can be an effective starting point for an ongoing cloud journey.
Replatforming doesn’t necessarily require major changes in code or architecture, but can bring on complementary updates so the legacy app can take advantage of a modern cloud platform. One example would be modifying or replacing the application’s backend database for greater reliability and efficiency, or it could see existing systems being integrated with others so they are available across web and mobile devices.
Refactoring, otherwise known as rewriting or restructuring, describes the process of retooling specific aspects of the underlying code of a legacy application in order for it to be able to run in a new environment, usually cloud infrastructure. This approach often requires major restructuring of the existing codebase and rewriting code. It can result in a business having microservices, as opposed to one big application, that maximises the benefits of cloud and improves agility.
Extending functionality of legacy apps or migrating them to a modern infrastructure such as a public cloud, can see your business leveraging innovative and future-forward benefits of digitisation - including mobility, virtualisation and analytics. This can help in both simplifying your IT environment and harnessing the potential of applications. Overall, an app modernisation project can lead to numerous benefits and help your business move along a path of success.
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