December 7, 2021 • by Alexandra & Andrew

Application Modernization Strategy in 5 Steps

Application Migration
Tech Staff
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Efficient software is vital to daily business operations. Legacy applications, on the other hand, are systems that run on outdated technologies and slow down or even block processes within organizations. Once the outdated tech translates to underperformance, best case scenarios mean benchmarks aren’t met and inefficiencies proliferate; worst case, however, involves inability to compete or adapt, and that means extinction over time.

 

And that is when application modernization comes to the rescue. It aligns existing software with modern business and technical requirements. In order to keep or increase the capabilities and performance of IT systems, it introduces new technologies to the current solutions or replaces them. According to the 2021 “SIM IT Trends Study”, replacing/re-platforming legacy apps was one of the ten largest IT investments for companies in 2020, together with cloud computing, cybersecurity, and big data among others.

 

Application modernization is a continuous, incremental process that can come in many forms, such as a code review, cloud migration, data modernization, functionality extension, UX audit or redesign. Application modernization strategy usually employs multiple methods. According to Deloitte’s cloud experts, the two most important aspects that companies should embrace are cloud migration and data modernization. However, we need to be aware that each app modernization strategy must be adjusted to the needs of a particular organization.

 

Why modernize legacy applications?

 

Businesses must embrace change — it really boils down to adapt, adopt, or perish. Long story short, we modernize legacy software to save money, ensure security, prepare for new business opportunities, or in edge cases fight to survive.

 

 

The problem is real. Dealing with outdated software and technical debt hamper business adaptability, thus decreasing its competitiveness in the long run. 37% of federal agencies surveyed by Accenture stated that technical debt impedes securing government systems and data from cyber threats and attacks, as well as hinders their attempts to improve efficiency. Moreover, four out of ten respondents stated that legacy systems impede them from creating innovative products, services, operating models, and processes quickly.

 

If you’d like to explore why legacy system modernization is key to ensure the performance of any software older than 5 years, we encourage you to check out the article where we thoroughly explained the reasons together with some real-world examples.

 

How to plan an application modernization strategy in 5 steps

 

Step 1: Evaluate your legacy application

 

Start with a comprehensive analysis of your software environment. What leaps off the page as optimal or acceptable, and what’s subject to improvements, fixes, or should be replaced? There are six primary drivers for system modernization:

 

  • Business fit: adjusting systems so that they better support a company in addressing business opportunities.
  • Business value: optimizing software for best business KPIs completion.
  • Agility: growing an organization’s ability to rapidly adapt to the ever-changing business and IT requirements.
  • Cost: reducing the development and maintenance expenditures of software systems.
  • Complexity: making sure that maintaining the code base is not too expensive and its complexity doesn’t lead to an excessive number of bugs and/or downtime.
  • Risk: minimizing risk related to the system’s robustness, efficiency, and security.

 

The integrated approach, when change drivers come from both business and IT perspectives, leads toward ensuring optimal results.

 

Step 2: Define modernization goals

 

First and foremost, goals need to come as a byproduct of your business KPIs. For example, a consulting firm’s KPIs are usually focused on Resource Utilization Rate and Project Margin. When such a company approaches a modernization of its custom employee management software, the goals may be to reduce the time spent on filling a time report or performing administrative tasks or minimize the time needed to assign team members with the right skills to a new project.

 

Bear in mind that while your application modernization strategy must address flaws of your IT system, it may also take you one step ahead of your competitors.

 

Step 3: Consider available resources

 

Application modernization is an investment. You’re probably aware that it will generate expenses related to development workload and software fees, but such a transformation requires additional resources you might not have considered.

 

You will need to train your IT team in the new technology, hire additional staff or outsource talent with the right skillset. After the technical team is proficient with the new system, the next step will be to onboard the users and help them understand the tool. Although they’ll need some time to learn it at the beginning, it will be more time- and cost-efficient in the long run.

 

If your modernization touches not only purely technical aspects but also business operations and working culture, as agile transformation does, it will require leadership participation and management support.

 

Finally, when it comes to resource allocation, be sure to carefully plan your budget and time. Reach out to those who have already carried out successful transformations. According to a survey by Boomi, the main challenge (66%) of enterprise system modernization is confusion about the total cost of ownership at the outset.

 

Step 4: Decide how you’ll approach modernization

 

The last step before kick-off is to create a strategic plan with a prioritized list of short- and long-term measures. If you’re not planning to manage all initiatives personally, make sure you assign owners and make them accountable for the KPIs delivery.

 

The best way to start your app modernization journey is code review. It’s an efficient way of cleaning up the existing code base, fixing bugs, and identifying improvement areas for the future. Another useful modernization method is a UX audit, which analyzes behavioral, quantitative, and qualitative data about the system usage, and provides actionable advice about the real state of things, avoiding assumptions at all costs.

 

 

To adjust your application to new market requirements you may have to extend existing features or develop new ones. UX researchers and business analysts can help to identify your users’ most vital needs, the ones that should be addressed first. Make sure you base your decisions on recommendations backed by facts, not assumptions.

 

Sometimes you need to migrate the whole application or its parts to a new operating environment. Depending on the scope of the migration, it may be a quite simple fix (like changing a plugin used for internal reporting) or a much larger project (once you’ve determined to move your old-school monolithic app to microservices, for example).

 

Step 5: Modernize!

 

Lights, camera, action! Once you start the process, remember to keep an eye on the KPIs. In the meantime check in with your team and other users of the software you’re modernizing (like clients or other business partners). Make sure they understand how they’ll benefit from the changes and receive all the necessary support while onboarding to the new platform.

 

Technology and the way we use it is constantly evolving. Use your first modernization to learn and prepare for what’s next.

 

 

 

Our application modernization experience

 

We have an extensive expertise in app modernization of software across eCommerce, Telecom and Entertainment industries. Let us introduce you to some of the projects.

 

 

Upgade of highly loaded data system for Telecom company

 

The telecom company had an outdated billing system that could no longer cope with some critical tasks and meet modern requirements. So, they decided to design a new system from scratch. One of the main goals of the system is to store data on all the consumptions and actions of clients. Since the product is also a billing system, it also serves to process and calculate data.

 

This is a Big Data project. A key feature of the system is the storage and processing of large data arrays. The scale of the system can be compared with Spotify. The system processes billions of files per day, and receives approximately 600 thousand records per second.

 

In the conditions of such data volumes, the distributed Cassandra database was used as storage. Several data centers located in different regions were used to ensure data integrity and load balancing.

 

As for billing, the system is not able to issue invoices itself, but it processes the data that is used for this purpose. For processing and calculating the distributed data, the development team used Apache Spark.

 

The system functions as data storage and a billing system for all clients’ spendings and actions. In addition to the fact that all data is stored in a distributed manner, it is processed and stored using microservices. Currently, there are about 20 microservices within the system.

 

To ensure system security, the SFTP protocol, Single Sign-on (SSO) technology, and data encryption are used.

 

  • As a result, the client got an updated system with the following functionality:
  • Information management: data collection, processing and aggregation, data reports.
  • Calculations: accounting of payments and expenses, recalculation of expenses for issuing a new invoice based on the updated data.

 

Application modernization for online store selling parfumes and cosmetics

 

The e-commerce system of Parfuemerie.de needed a complete upgrade. Within the project, our dev team had to:

 

  • provide support for adaptive design;
  • implement modern and convenient payment methods;
  • set up flexible tools to attract more buyers;
  • optimize workflows, such as user registration, ordering, etc.;
  • ensure secure integration with internal order processing ERP systems;
  • find a flexible solution for the migration of Parfuemerie.de to a new e-commerce system.

 

Since the web application is a complex eCommerce system that depends on third-party software, the team thoroughly analyzed the business logic of the integration before the development. Also, the e-commerce system had to provide high automation. So we came up with a solution – a self-healing data exchange.

 

At the first stage of the development, the client offered to choose a new eCommerce system from basic solutions – Shopware, Oxid, and Magento 2. Our team recommended Magento 2 as the most suitable system: it has a large community, a huge plug-in choice, and does not bind a software product to the vendor.

 

IntexSoft developers chose a cloud solution with Docker containers as the architecture system. This enabled Parfuemerie.de to be independent of contractors. This solution helped to run the container with the application at any time and in any data center without complex manipulations.

 

We also offered to equip the system with such technical functionality as:

 

  • leveling and loading the balancing in computer networks at the DNS level;
  • data caching;
  • automation based on distributed sessions;
    detailed monitoring.

 

So, as a result the client got an updated eCommerce web app with the following features:

 

  • New CMS: complex migration from a custom made eCommerce CMS to Magento 2 platform;
  • Responsive web design;
  • Integrations: Complex integration with the internal ERP system of the client, integration with the installed plugins;
    Flexibility: The platform does not require changes to the basic system, and also allows connecting new plugins quickly.

 

 

Front-end migration for Pocker Calulator

 

The client has previously cooperated with IntexSoft when developing the interactive tool for calculating poker odds made for the largest poker portal which was on Flash. When the client found out about the ending of Flash support they decided to migrate the tool to another technology.

 

Although the calculator worked well, the technology needed to be updated. When choosing the tech stack, we considered that the web application should be responsive: work stably and look good on all devices (PC, tablets, phones). So our team chose React, as it was the best option to fulfill the requirements.

 

The client also provided us with all the necessary layouts and graphic materials for updating the design of the application. The dev team adapted the design for desktop and mobile devices.

 

As a result, the client got their product updating to new stable technology, functioning just as before.

 

 

It’s high time you update your legacy system

 

Today’s economy is anything but stable. Organizations and their software need to be more agile, more effective, and more scalable than ever. Numerous lockdowns over the past two years moved business operations to digital.

 

Now, to ensure operational capacity and adaptability, all systems have to be compatible with the latest software and a wide variety of tools (because you never know what you will need next). In retail, transition to the omnichannel business model requires the data to be continuously accessible and up-to-date across all systems and channels. At the same time, clients are very demanding in terms of good UX. Sellers who address these expectations successfully win customer loyalty. And let’s not forget about security. With new security threats emerging daily, databases and applications should be updated with the latest security measures and monitored carefully.

 

At IntexSoft, we can help you plan and execute a custom application modernization strategy. We always start with a thorough analysis of your business needs and end-user requirements to ensure the modernization is successful. Based upon that assessment, we implement relevant solutions, such as cloud migration, software extension, UX audit, re-architecting applications from monolithic to microservice, and more.

 

Need a helping hand in modernizing your system? Drop us a line!

Written by

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Alexandra

Marketing Manager
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Andrew

Head of Dev Department

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