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Anatomy of an Application Modernization Project

One of the most common questions I get asked is "How long will the application modernization process take?” Of course the answer depends on the scope of the project—how much code needs to be re-hosted versus transformed, and how many resources will be used at any one time. It often surprises people to learn that the process of transforming your code and data can actually be less than half of the overall application modernization effort.

Typically the next question is “What does a project look like in terms of phases and resource requirements?” We generally find that projects are completed in four major stages, each of which can consume 25 percent or more of the overall effort.

Step 1. Discover. Simply put, the initial phase is the blueprint stage. During this phase, you gain a better understanding of your existing legacy environment, both from a technical and a business perspective. Without documenting how workloads and applications achieve your organization’s objectives and which parts of your current system will be needed in the future, you run the risk of missing key requirements in your modernization plan.

Step 2. Plan. During this phase, project goals and resource requirements are determined to build out the implementation roadmap. A comprehensive modernization plan includes:

  • Detailed milestones for application source code and data conversion
  • Complete mapping of all operational areas to ensure that required standards and procedures for operating and administering the new target environment are addressed
  • An infrastructure solution designed to address reliability, accessibility and growth requirements

Step 3. Transform. This stage often receives most of the limelight because it’s when the actual application source, data and utility migration is performed. You will want to use the right mix of automated migration processes and adaptation to address differences between the legacy environment and your target platform. Your new infrastructure is typically installed and configured with your third-party software at this time. Test plans are reviewed in preparation for final cutover, and operations and administrative training also occurs during this phase.

Step 4. Implement. The importance of this phase is often overlooked partly because it follows all the action. However, testing, quality assurance and a detailed plan of production cutover steps all ensure modernization and migration accuracy—as well as alignment with initial assessment goals. During this stage, verifying new application functionality is critical to your success. Other factors like performance, security, scalability and reliability also help determine whether a modernized application will deliver to expectations while enhancing the user experience.

Understandably, the amount of time and effort an organization must devote rarely divides evenly between these phases. However, the goals associated with each phase are significant and require unique resources and skills. Ignoring the importance or requirements of any phase could ultimately derail a legacy application modernization project or significantly reduce your return on investment.

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