Application Modernization

What Is Application Modernization?

Application modernization is the process of updating or upgrading an application, but without changing or replacing the core coding. This process can be invasive, involving intensive re-coding, akin to building the app from scratch. That said, non-invasive modernization is also possible, using third-party services, such as the modern cloud or web-based frontend.

Why Would You Need Application Modernization?

The main purpose of application modernization is creating business value from existing applications designed for specific purposes. Any old apps in use today need reprogramming in order to make them compatible with modern computing devices. This step is necessary as some of these devices did not exist when the app was first developed. The main concern is that the older legacy systems of these apps are not compatible with modern operating systems. Upgrading the legacy systems can prove an expensive endeavor for any business.

A smarter option is switching to cloud, mobile, or cognitive platforms. These platforms help businesses save millions of dollars by boosting efficiency and enhancing quality. Modern applications using application containers like Docker or OpenShift with newer front end interfaces in Angular allow for near better maintainability, scaling, and user experience.

How Does Application Modernization Work?

In most cases the end goal of modernization is a web or mobile application from a legacy web, desktop, terminal, or mainframe application.  Here is a summary of the steps usually needed to 

  1. ANALYSIS: An in-depth analysis of the current system to determine the existing architecture, data storage, integration points with other systems, and documentation of business, compliance, and system requirements. Determine possible tools and 
  2. AUTOMATE TESTS: Automated tests should be written to allow verification that the modernized system performs the same tasks as the legacy system.  Deviations from the legacy system may be appropriate to meet new business needs, but that should be on purpose, not by accident.
  3. ARCHITECT: Determine which components of the legacy system meet current business needs and can be reused with minor or no changes.  Determine what new components and tools will be used.  Design an integration pattern with other business systems.
  4. DEVELOP:  Using the architecture, develop the modern solution.  This often includes recompiling existing source with new tools and adding modern integration hooks into the existing source.
  5. AUTOMATE BUILD & DEPLOY: Source code needs to be compile and/or bundled into a deployment bundle and steps need to be taken to deploy this bundle to staging and production environments.  This entire process should be automated to remove to ensure consistency and repeatability.
  6. VALIDATE: Run the automated tests and perform user acceptance testing to confirm the new application meets all requirements, including performance and scaling.
  7. LAUNCH: Perform the transition from the legacy to the modern system with practiced procedures in place to ensure a smooth transition.

The Challenges of Application Modernization

Modernizing legacy system can throw up several challenges. These include issues with data migration, lack of qualified personnel, lack of funding, and difficulty in obtaining the source code and documentation.

The application modernization process also requires re-engineering the entire business model. This way, the application can support the line of business requirements. However, you may face application design limitations and the cost of support could be greater than you envisaged.

What Applications Usually Need Modernization?

Many applications, especially internal company tools, were built using technologies that are no longer supported or will no longer be supported in the near future.  In many cases companies still run outdated operating systems like Windows XP and Vista (and soon Windows 8) because they have applications that will no longer run on modern computers.  As these old operating systems are no longer supported they no longer receive critical security patches leaving them vulnerable to data loss, data theft, and vandalism.  If any of the following are still being used, you have a legacy application needing modernization:

  • Desktop applications that require an unsupported OS (Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 8, or Mac on PowerPC)
  • Desktop applications without web or mobile options
  • Server applications in Java 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7
  • Desktop applications in Java Swing or JavaFX
  • Windows Explorer
  • Terminal Applications for Business Users
  • GlassFish
  • UNIX, XENIX, AIX, Solaris
  • BBX (Business Basic)
  • Applications using a DB2 Database
  • Perl applications
  • REXX applications
  • Pascal Applications

Application Modernization Services

We offer affordable and reliable application modernization. You can integrate new functionality in older platforms through this process. The steps involved include re-platforming, re-hosting, re-purposing, replacement, re-engineering, interoperability, re-architecting, and consolidation of legacy software programming.

Application modernization should be business-centered and focus on upgrading the app for multiple platforms. Also, it should be an ongoing process. A wise move is to focus on old apps that are functionally relevant today, rather than just modernizing an app for the sake of it.