EvolveWare Blog

5 Questions to Consider when Undertaking a Cloud Modernization Effort

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1. How do you undertake a cloud modernization effort? 

There are two approaches to cloud modernization or migrating applications to the cloud: (1) A lift-and-shift approach where the entire application is moved to the cloud or (2) a cloud native approach where parts of the application are converted into microservices and deployed in the cloud. The remaining parts of the application could be modernized as a web application but may or may not be moved to the cloud.

The best approach is the cloud native approach when it comes to modernizing legacy applications and taking them to the cloud. This is because the target applications provide better performance and can be scaled. It should be noted that a lift-and-shift approach is less expensive and time consuming than a cloud native approach. Hence, due to time constraints or budgetary reasons organizations may elect to move the entire application to the cloud without generating microservices. However, if performance or scalability become an issue, it is possible to analyze the cloud application and generate microservices at a later point in time. 

With respect to modernizing applications using a cloud native approach, there are two options: (1) Extract business rules from the source application and either implement them in a cloud enabled commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product, or re-write the application using state-of-the-art technologies, generating microservices in the process. (2) Use an application modernization platform that can generate modern code including microservices using current technologies. At EvolveWare, we have built our Intellisys platform to allow you to take advantage of all of these options, using automation features to speed up and de-risk the process.

2. What makes this particular technique so effective?

A large number of legacy applications that require cloud modernization are monolithic batch applications processing huge volumes of data in unattended mode i.e. the code processing data is single-threaded or all in one piece as a single copy. These applications are able to process such large amounts of data in the time period they do, because of the hardware power of the mainframe or midrange systems they run on. In order for the modernized application to perform similarly, the approach should be to separate the code that performs processing into microservices that can be installed as multiple instances or as multiple copies. In other words you have multiple copies of the code processing data in parallel. 

More importantly, as data volumes increase, the application can be scaled by adding additional copies of relevant microservices. 

From a maintenance standpoint, separating processing code into microservices allows for easier modifications of processes as and when necessary.

3. What’s the best way to approach app modernization initiatives? 

There is no single path to modernization, as every enterprise system is unique. However, there is one key approach to successful modernization that applies no matter what path you choose: Take a phased approach with intermediate deliverables. Taking a phased approach to modernization projects, which are often large-scope initiatives, is critical to success. The key steps to phasing modernization projects are:

  • Align with stakeholders on business goals, and take stock of your constraints in terms of personnel, processes and budget. 
  • Assess your legacy applications, including critical dependencies. This documentation process will reveal the software’s complexity as well as dead or redundant code that is surely lurking inside. 
  • Determine your modernization approach. Replacing, rebuilding or refactoring are the most common modernization options. Note that we are seeing significant interest in modernizing to microservices and serverless architectures. With this outcome in mind, one effective strategy is to zero in on the business rules. Business rules extraction separates and groups the different business functions/domains within legacy apps, which can then be modernized to highly focused code.  
  • Regroup with key stakeholders and revise expectations based on the revealed complexity, risks, and resources needed to successfully complete the project.
  • Start small and test and document your processes before you scale.

Mapping out modernization projects in phases empowers every organization on its modernization journey to achieve success without drowning in the time and resource costs of failures.

4. Is there anything that could go wrong? 

Historically, legacy application modernization has been executed as big-bang initiatives. This approach has increased the potential for errors, causing initiatives to go out of scope and increasing business disruption. This is why we advocate taking a phased approach, testing and documenting each process, and breaking up large projects into smaller modules so that results can be generated in shorter periods of time to allow “lessons to be learnt”.  There is also the code freeze issue – teams have typically had to freeze code and keep business policies static during the time it takes to modernize each application. This means that they are unable to make changes to live applications during the modernization process, potentially disrupting critical business operations. Or, if they need to update policies, IT teams have unfrozen code to implement them, but then they risk disparity between the updated code in production and the code being modernized. This is a pain point that we at EvolveWare have taken on. Our Intellisys platform addresses the issue by implementing agile, continuous modernization practices and allowing IT teams to update their code repositories continuously while generating reports highlighting the changes and impact to modernization work performed.

5. What else should be considered?

What is considered modern changes from year to year as technologies evolve – and this, of course, directly impacts strategies to modernize. For example, we are seeing increased interest in organizations having access to the business rules implemented in their application portfolio and then embarking on a modernization journey. Extraction of business rules provides an organization access to their intellectual property and gives them a path to rapid modernization via a COTS product or implementing them in code using the latest technologies.

 

For more information around cloud modernization strategies or to discuss your current modernization initiatives, reach out to us here.

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