Those untouchable apps you thought couldn’t be messed with? Time for a rethink…

How to give your digital furniture a new lease of life

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With lockdown easing, our attention turns to how we’ll stay safe while kickstarting the economy. No one really knows what the future will bring.

Likewise, for IT departments up and down the country, fundamental questions are being asked. First among them: what are you going to do with your under-performing legacy apps?

As Microsoft’s Satya Nadella pointed out earlier this year, we’ve seen two years of digital transformation compressed into just a few months. Organisations have scrambled to adapt to employees working from home. Business apps have been pushed to the limits and sometimes to breaking point, exposing the frailties of older business apps.

So what do you do next?

Do you stick with your older apps? Even if they’re not unfit for purpose, they’re probably looking a little flabby around the edges.

These totemic, untouchable apps have become part of your digital furniture. They aren’t loved or even liked – they’re simply tolerated. And it’s not as simple as just ripping and replacing; you can’t just change them in the blink of an eye.

You have three options for your legacy apps:

  1. Live with the status quo (and all the limitations and problems)
  2. Give up on them and start over
  3. Uplift them using a strategic modernisation approach

For many organisations, the third option is the most achievable and practical. There are well-established ways to keep legacy systems in place while newer, more scalable systems are gradually brought into replace them or coexist alongside them.

With expert help, you can build strategic functionality based on newer languages and contemporary principles, augmenting the legacy system or helping with a phased sunsetting. All while taking the pressure off you and your team.

It’s like building a new house while still keeping the old house standing and in a habitable condition. A terrible way to manage a construction site, but a great way to handle a complex application migration.

Change comes fast
But why do this now? Because change doesn’t stop. COVID-19 isn’t going to be the last dramatic event to impact your organisation. There’s plenty more uncertainty still to come. Even in the short-term, the aftershocks of COVID-19 mean that we simply don’t know what customer interactions will look like 6-12 months from now.

Take retail as an example. The boss of M&S, Steve Rowe, says customers "may never shop the same way again” and that “whilst some customer habits will return to normal, others have changed forever.”

Likewise, Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays, has similar predictions about office space. "There will be a long-term adjustment to our location strategy. The notion of putting 7,000 people in the building may be a thing of the past."

Now is the time to get ahead of the curve and take action.

Leading by example

If you’re going to renew or reinforce your legacy apps, it helps to have some industry examples.

  • Centrica Trading, the wholesale trading arm of the energy giant, became one of the first energy trading companies in Europe to move its data centre applications to the cloud. Avanade’s DevOps-first approach helped Centrica go from design to completion in less than 18 months. Centrica’s estate spans hundreds of applications hosted on thousands of virtual machines, yet it was delivered with zero downtime. This journey to the cloud has delivered a 70% reduction in operating costs and a reduced cost per trade.
  • Similarly, a Swedish retailer worked with Avanade to deliver a new loyalty scheme, using point-to-point integrations migrated a new API platform. It’s all hosted on Microsoft Azure PaaS, so its reliable, fast and secure.
  • In the education sector, a UK examining body needed a more consistent marking process – and that meant swapping out its existing marking platform with a new system, fit for the future. Avanade stepped in, creating a scalable software platform in a short timeframe.

The first step to rethinking your apps
Avanade helps you Rethink your applications. We help firms harness the business value inherent in legacy systems while making them more adaptable, scalable, and ready for whatever the next 'New Normal' might be. Avanade’s methodology is fast and iterative, using our Respond, Reset and Renew framework to help you hit the ground running.

Are your competitors holding out to see what happens next? No. They’re getting their systems ready for whatever the future throws at them. They’re adapting to change, and right now, change is the only thing that’s certain.

Where to go next?

Read the CIO’s Guide to Cloud Native Applications to find out how your applications and infrastructure can be rebuilt and enhanced.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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