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The Art of Successful Legacy Application Modernization: 10 Crucial Choices to Eliminate or At Least Reduce Opportunity Cost

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“The hardest problems in modernizing legacy applications aren’t in the code but in choices!”

This is what we believe (and have experienced) at Azilen.

When it comes to legacy application modernization, it’s not about picking the latest and greatest.

There’s a factor called “opportunity cost” that can make or break your modernization journey.

Opportunity cost refers to the potential value lost when one alternative is chosen over another.

Opportunity Cost

Thus, you have to upgrade wisely, find the balance, and make sure you’re not just making things new but also making them better.

And that’s the art of upgrading without losing out.

In this blog, we’ll explore those choices that organizations must make to eliminate or at least reduce the opportunity costs.

So, let’s get started.

Legacy Application Modernization: 10 Crucial Choices to Eliminate Opportunity Cost

1. Rehost vs. Refactor

Rehosting is also known as “lift and shift”.

It involves migrating existing applications to a new infrastructure without making significant changes to the code.

Rehost is a faster and less resource-intensive option – which is an optimal choice for enterprises looking for a quick transition to the cloud.

Refactoring involves restructuring or rewriting the codebase to optimize performance, scalability, and maintainability.

Hence, it’s a more time-consuming and costly approach.

However, it ensures that the application aligns with modern engineering practices and takes full advantage of cloud-native features.

For legacy application modernization, choosing between rehosting and refactoring depends on the organization’s priorities.

It might include – budget constraints and long-term strategic goals.

On a lighter side,

2. Monolith vs. Microservices

Maintaining a monolithic architecture simplifies development and deployment.

And it makes it easier to manage and debug architecture.

However, this approach is suitable for smaller applications or when rapid development is a high priority.

Breaking down monolithic legacy applications into microservices offers increased agility and modularity.

This approach allows for independent development, deployment, and scaling of individual services.

But what sets it apart is that it facilitates faster innovation cycles and easier maintenance.

Choosing between a monolith and microservices depends on factors such as application complexity, scalability requirements, and the development team’s expertise.

Monolithic vs. Microservices

3. Incremental vs. Big Bang Modernization

Incremental breaks down the modernization process into smaller, manageable phases.

It enables organizations to implement changes without affecting the entire system at once.

Also, it can identify and address issues in specific components or modules before moving on to the next phase.

This iterative process reduces the risk of large-scale failures while modernizing legacy applications.

However, it can extend the overall duration of the modernization project and increase maintenance overhead.

Big Bang modernization promises rapid and comprehensive transformation.

It provides a clear endpoint to the legacy system, facilitating quicker adaptation to the new system.

Moreover, it ensures uniformity across the entire application since the transformation occurs simultaneously.

This can simplify testing, training, and overall management of the modernized system.

For legacy application modernization, the choice between incremental and big bang modernization depends on the organization’s risk tolerance, business priorities, and available resources.

4. Data Migration vs. Data Transformation

Data migration involves transferring data from the existing application to a new, modernized system.

This approach aims to minimize downtime and complexity while maintaining data integrity and compatibility.

However, mapping data from the old structure to the new one can be challenging.

Data transformation is not only about moving data but also changing its format, structure, or values as per the requirements.

It goes beyond a simple one-to-one transfer and may involve cleansing, enrichment, or restructuring of the data.

However, data transformation is more complex than migration as it demands changing the very nature of the data.

The choice between these two depends on the criticality of data, regulatory requirements, and the data governance policies of the organization.

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5. API-First Development vs. Integration Later

This approach focuses on creating robust and well-documented APIs from the outset.

It ensures that the application’s core architecture is embedded with integration and interoperability capabilities.

API-first development is especially beneficial when the modernization project demands multiple systems and third-party integrations, or when the organization wants to offer certain functionalities to external developers through APIs.

The Integration Later method involves completing the core development of the application first and then addressing integration requirements in subsequent phases.

This allows for a quicker initial development phase which helps the enterprises to deliver the core application faster.

It’s an ideal choice when the primary focus is on rapidly delivering a modernized application with integration needs being secondary.

Here, the decision depends on the integration needs of the organization and how much future scalability is prioritized.

6. CI/CD vs. Manual Release Processes

CI/CD pipelines automate the building, integration, testing, and deployment processes, reducing the likelihood of human errors.

Moreover, it facilitates rapid iterations and frequent releases.

It’s well-suited for organizations aiming for agility, rapid releases, and a streamlined development pipeline.

Manual release processes provide a high level of control and oversight.

However, it often results in slower release cycles.

Also, relying on manual release processes increases the likelihood of human errors.

The speed of application delivery is a crucial factor in legacy application modernization.

Choosing between CI/CD and manual processes depends on the organization’s risk tolerance, release frequency goals, and the level of automation maturity.

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7. User Interface (UI) Upgrade vs. Redesign

This method involves making gradual improvements to the existing UI without changing the overall design structure.

Hence, it’s often more cost-effective than complete redesigns.

What’s more, it can be implemented more quickly than redesigns.

This is beneficial for enterprises looking to achieve a modern look and feel without a lengthy development cycle.

UI redesign goes beyond just incremental improvements.

Instead, it introduces a new design language, layout, and sometimes, a reimagined user experience.

It can give the application a competitive edge in terms of aesthetics, functionality, and overall appeal.

For applications with outdated or cumbersome UIs, a redesign offers long-term viability by future-proofing the interface.

The decision between a UI upgrade and a redesign completely depends on your legacy application modernization goals.

8. In-House Development vs. Outsourcing

In-house development offers a profound understanding of the organization’s processes and legacy systems.

This enables quick navigation through application intricacies.

Also, customization and control are key benefits here, allowing tailored solutions and agile adjustments.

However, it comes with challenges including resource constraints, extended timelines, higher initial costs, and potential scalability issues.

Faster time-to-market, specialized skills, and cost efficiency – these are the benefits of outsourcing legacy application modernization.

Its scalability and flexibility are beneficial for organizations that have variable workloads or are aiming for quick modernization.

Vendors, having worked on various projects, can offer insights and best practices that might not be apparent to an in-house team.

Here, the choice depends on the organization’s internal capabilities, project timelines, and budget constraints.

9. Containerization vs. Virtualization

An application and its dependencies are contained within a container using containerization.

It’s a lightweight, portable, and effective type of virtualization.

And because they share the host OS kernel, containers are highly efficient at resource utilization and startup times.

In fact, it aligns well with microservices architecture which helps in improving maintainability and scalability.

Virtualization involves creating a virtual instance of a complete OS on a physical host.

This allows multiple virtual machines (VMs) to run independently, making it suitable for legacy applications with complex dependencies.

Moreover, it offers robust security features, including isolation between VMs, secure network configurations, and support for encryption.

Here, the choice depends on various factors, including application architecture, resource efficiency goals, and the desired level of isolation.

In many cases, a hybrid approach may be suitable.

With that, you can leverage the strengths of both containerization and virtualization.

10. Horizontal Scaling vs. Vertical Scaling

Horizontal scaling involves adding more instances of application components to distribute the workload.

In this approach, multiple servers or nodes work together to handle incoming requests.

Each instance is a duplicate, and requests can be distributed among them using load-balancing techniques.

Tools like Kubernetes and load balancers play a crucial role in facilitating seamless horizontal scaling.

Horizontal scaling is suitable for applications designed to run on multiple servers simultaneously.

Vertical scaling increases the capacity of individual servers by adding more resources such as CPU, RAM, or storage.

It’s suitable for applications that may not easily distribute workload across multiple servers.

Moreover, it can also be more cost-effective for applications with modest resource requirements, as the organization invests in a single, robust server instead of multiple smaller ones.

However, vertical scaling has limitations, especially in handling large-scale traffic and achieving high availability.

The choice between horizontal and vertical scaling is a critical technical decision.

By carefully evaluating the application’s characteristics, traffic patterns, and growth expectations, you can implement a scaling strategy that aligns with your technical requirements.

Whether you choose vertical or horizontal scaling, autoscaling matters the most.

Still Confused? Find Your Way with Our Legacy Application Modernization Services

Imagine a future where your legacy applications seamlessly evolve to meet the dynamic needs of your business.

That’s the future we envision and the journey we’re here to guide you through.

In our 14+ years of journey of engineering excellence, we experienced that it’s not just about upgrading systems – it’s about empowering your team, delighting your customers, and fostering a culture of continuous innovation.

Our PRO Engineers aren’t just committed to technical excellence but are dedicated to understanding the soul of your organization and product.

Whether you opt for incremental changes or a bold leap into the future, we’re here to ensure that every decision aligns with your people and your vision with our application modernization services.

Ready to redefine your legacy?

Take the first step toward a modernized, future-ready organization!

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