5 Steps Toward Cloud-Native App Modernization and Business Value

Here’s how to migrate apps to the cloud that require more than a “lift and shift” strategy.

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A cloud migration can give organizations greater cost and operational control. Beyond moving from a Capex to Opex model, cloud offers the flexibility to turn resources up or down based on business demand and the need to control costs. Yet, simply lifting and shifting applications to the cloud doesn’t guarantee these advantages. To maximize cloud benefits, application modernization may be needed.

Application Modernization Strategies

Modernization efforts can take several forms, such as replatforming and rearchitecting – also referred to as refactoring. Both can be good choices for strategic, business-impacting applications. A cost-benefit analysis is the preferred method to determine which of these approaches is best for each application to be modernized.

Replatforming enables applications to take advantage of foundational cloud functionality and cost optimization. Often a lower level of effort, it typically involves up-versioning components like a database to optimize them for cloud infrastructure.

Rearchitecting an application is often more involved and can include rewriting swaths of code to ensure that applications gain from cloud-native functionality. While more time and resource-intensive, refactored applications can maximize the operational and cost efficiencies offered by the cloud because they are fully able to take advantage of cloud functionality like elasticity and auto-scaling that can result in extensive savings. Often, business-critical legacy applications are good candidates for rearchitecting.

Leapfrog to a Competitive Position

Strategic application modernization can help an organization leapfrog to a more competitive position. That’s because these efforts are less like climbing a ladder and more like hopscotching to a desired position. With a solid modernization strategy, organizations can identify their end goal and work directly toward it. Here’s how:

  • Newly modernized applications should have a scalable and automated cloud foundation; this landing zone provides a secure and manageable environment where applications can effectively operate.

  • Containerize components of applications that cannot be replaced with cloud-native services. Containerizing these elements can grow operational consistency, increase portability and help ensure efficiency in those areas where the application simply can’t take advantage of cloud-native functionality.

  • Explore advanced architectures like microservices that provide greater HR utilization as people work in small teams on their own microservice. Because microservices allow teams to work independently of each other, they remove bottlenecks while growing flexibility, speeding delivery and reducing risk.

  • Add automation across the environment with full-stack automated deployment using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and CI/CD pipelines. In this way, not only will the newly rearchitected application benefit from cloud-native services, but it can also be automatically updated and maintained, helping the enterprise achieve continuous improvements.

  • Assess the ability of advanced technologies like AI/ML to further benefit the newly modernized application. Integrations like these can help create new business opportunities through advanced data insights or new features that help address evolving customer expectations.

These steps may require advanced cloud knowledge to execute, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. An experienced partner can help address everything from mainframe modernization to monolith refactoring, even advising which applications should perhaps be retired or moved to a SaaS model to help remove the need to manage bespoke applications.

Application Modernization in Action

An enterprise research company sought to modernize its portfolio for the cloud. With over 400 applications flagged for cloud migration, a strategic assessment determined that roughly 40% of the applications were ideal candidates for refactoring. An Amazon Web Services (AWS) landing zone was the first step, providing the firm with a platform for innovation. Next, patterns were created to strategically replatform and migrate the applications, using containers, automated pipelines and more. This allowed the firm to strategically modernize its assets, maximizing its ability to benefit from advanced AWS functionality.

A leading consumer packaged goods company operated applications that had resided on mainframe systems for over 50 years. The company decided to close its data center and migrate its systems to AWS, modernizing its applications in the process. Following a comprehensive procedure, supplemented with new DevOps processes, the company was able to reduce its operational support costs by 25% and reduce its infrastructure costs by 65% as the cloud allows it to only pay for the resources it uses.

With modernized applications that take advantage of cloud scalability, automation, and security, organizations achieve greater process optimization, productivity, and utilization. Moreover, with the strategies outlined here, any enterprise can gain even greater control over its operations, reaping the benefits of cloud-native technologies.

Learn more: Seven Advantages to AWS Migration

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