Advancements in technology and digital innovation in the last decade are fundamentally altering business processes, products, services, and relationships. In turn, organizations are restructuring to adapt themselves to this trend. This restructuring, in other words, digital transformation, forms the foundation for organizations looking to deliver value to their customers. It is expected that worldwide spending on digital transformation enabling technology and services will cross USD 2.3 Trillion by 2023[i].
This paper explores the growing role of application modernization in facilitating digital transformation. It further delves into the inherent challenges in application modernization and explores how Microsoft Azure solutions offer cutting-edge features and benefits to help organizations effectively modernize their applications and win the battle for transformation success.
Application transformation in the era of the cloud
With enterprises embracing digital transformation and adopting Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) models to build cloud-native digital capabilities, the application modernization ecosystem is gaining momentum, playing a key role in accelerating the enterprise’s digital journey. Many organizations using legacy systems spend huge resources on maintaining existing applications – this stymies innovation while consuming resource bandwidth. Additionally, existing systems are equally hard to replace as they carry vital organizational information and are central to business process operations. Enterprises that realize this are gradually adopting legacy modernization, investing in innovative approaches to upgrade their applications, and reducing maintenance costs.
Application modernization is also helping organizations develop agility, improve operational efficiency, align to IT investments, and stay on top of their business imperatives by delivering a superlative customer experience. The global application modernization market is expected to grow to USD 16.67 Billion by 2022[ii].
The case for application modernization and inherent challenges
Why modernize legacy applications? Most legacy applications are monolithic, making them difficult to update and expensive to scale. Modernization supports a microservices architecture where the components are smaller, loosely coupled, and can be deployed and scaled independently of each other. This gives businesses the freedom and flexibility to customize the application modernization processes to meet their individual business requirements and challenges.
Application modernization involves redefining, upgrading, and aligning existing applications to meet evolving business needs and accommodate future requirements. It leverages emerging technologies including Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud, DevOps, Microservices, Containers, IoT, and Serverless Computing amongst others to develop an agile portfolio of solutions tailored to meet new age business requirements. However, selecting the right technology platform that is aligned to their specific business requirements is critical in ensuring successful application modernization. This requires a detailed understanding of technology options available in the market and complete alignment with business objectives. For instance, is the modernization project a business centric one or a technology-led requirement?
Application modernization is a complex, multi-layered process with many related factors. Some of the challenges in application modernization include:
- Loss of application knowledge and skill gap: Some of the more complex legacy applications are decades old, developed on technology that is almost obsolete. Maintenance and enhancement of these applications has become a major concern and organizations are wary of interfering with the original code and platform, due to concerns about the impact the changes can have on business operations. With more technologies aligning with application modernization, the talent that created these legacy technologies is aging out. Mainframe infrastructure has many complex components, which makes development of interdependent modernized components particularly challenging. Business leaders must find a balance between embracing new technology and encouraging the workforce to adopt new ways of working.
- Cost constraints: Legacy application maintenance consumes a significant portion of the IT budget. However, application modernization, while promising significant cost benefits, can turn out to be a nightmare if not planned carefully. Unknown dependencies and complex application architectures often lead to budget overruns, making the modernization process a very costly affair.
- Legacy processes and resistance to new technologies: Legacy technologies were engineered for traditional business models. Digitization and cloud adoption requires agility, quick product updates, speedy feature enhancements, faster response time, and a seamless customer experience. All of this requires organizations and their employees to go beyond their comfort zones and mindfully embrace new technologies and new ways of working – not an easy agenda for organizations to drive. There must be a conscious effort to drive the organizational mindset to adapt to new ways of working and doing business.
- Balancing stability and performance: One of the driving factors behind legacy modernization is performance improvement. However, balancing improvement in response timelines and a faster time-to-market without compromising on the stability of the product is key.
Given the above challenges, investing in the right tools and platforms is key to successfully transition from legacy applications to the digital world. There are many tools and platform options available including microservices, containers, agile dev processes and the likes.
Future forward with Microsoft Azure – 5 reasons to modernize now
One of the more popular solutions is Microsoft Azure, fast becoming the leader in the cloud infrastructure race with cutting-edge features and developer-friendly offerings. Q2 2020 earnings reveal that Azure has grown 47% in revenue over the previous quarter, and Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud Business grew 17% to USD 13.4 billion.[iii]
Whether your data is on-premises or on the cloud, tools and platforms from Microsoft, specifically the Microsoft Azure Cloud offering promises solutions for almost every possible business modernization scenario. Its microservices offering enables organizations to build, deploy, and operate applications independently at scale, and at speed.
With 30-40% of all bespoke applications running on .NET, it is easy to see why Microsoft Azure is gaining in popularity. Microsoft Azure is enterprise ready, with the ability to run all existing ASP.NET apps, allowing organizations to leverage existing knowledge and technology. It is a fully managed services offering with built-in autoscaling, CI/CD, load balancing and more. It delivers strong platform benefits by providing a stable yet flexible foundation for existing and new app development. Its full-stack cloud offering entails frontend, backend, data, intelligence, and DevOps solutions. The solution is also highly secure, providing built-in security services and unique intelligence to protect workloads across infrastructure and applications. It offers a plethora of applications and tools to choose from for advanced development, monitoring, debugging and telemetry. We list a few apps from the Azure family:
Azure Web App is a fully managed Platform as a Service (PaaS) that provides various tools and services to create reliable, secure, and scalable mission-critical web apps, mobile apps, API apps, and logic apps – all in a single instance. It provides a multi-lingual and versatile framework, supports visual studio integration, and secure integration with other SaaS apps.
Azure Mobile App connects with customers wherever they are with Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS), delivering tailored experiences based on their interests and behavior.
Azure Logic App helps schedule, automate, and orchestrate tasks, business processes and workflows required to integrate apps, data, systems, and services across organizations.
Azure Function allows you to run small pieces of code or “functions” without the worry of application infrastructure, enabling the cloud infrastructure to provide all the up-to-date servers you need to keep your application running at scale.
WebJobs is also a feature of Azure App Service that enables you to run a program or script in the same instance as a web app, API app, or mobile app, with no additional cost.
Here are five ways in which application modernization using Microsoft Azure delivers a competitive edge:
- Optimized operations – Azure allows organizations to tap into resource usage on-demand. It enables easy expansion or reduction in resource usage based on customer needs. Azure’s built-in monitoring tools help allocate additional resources on-demand in seconds, ensuring zero operational disruption. Azure’s integrated analytics solutions help teams find and fix problems on the go. Azure enables organizations to understand application run rate and usage patterns and respond quickly to changes in behavior.
- Market ready at speed - Microsoft Azure helps enterprises deliver faster value to customers by enabling faster responses to changing customer requirements with solutions like PaaS and serverless architecture. Organizations can analyze how customers are interfacing with and using applications, helping deliver better experiences.
- Better decision making - Azure supports legacy application modernization to create new system efficiencies and intelligence. Teams across the board gain easy access to the most relevant data in seconds, empowering better decision making both, about the business and customers. Azure also encourages experimentation across new products and services by supporting hypothesis-driven development techniques and easy iterations across different workflows.
- Enhanced value delivery - Application modernization with Microsoft Azure enables faster time to market with enhanced agility and faster innovation. This is possible as Azure supports microservices, serverless architecture, and containers to support the creation of small, independent, easy-to-deploy and scale components. The future will be defined by these lean and easy-to-grow-and-evolve applications, helping deliver a competitive edge. Customers also benefit with a more personalized experience of products and services with easy-to-access options and faster fulfillment.
- Improved cost management – Azure enables you to pay only for what you use, reducing your hardware and maintenance costs. Its outsourced cloud model allows enterprises to easily switch to a manageable OpEx model with no sunken costs. This also helps organizations explore opportunities at a much lower entry cost.
Apart from the above, Azure offers enhanced security by building in better security protocols against phishing and threat attacks. Azure also offers greater compliance by constantly introducing new compliance updates and guidelines.
Toward resilience with Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure can deliver immense value to an enterprise’s digital transformation strategy. However, it is important for organizations to partner with Application Transformation Service Providers who have the requisite knowhow and skills, can align to the business vision, and be futuristic in their approach. A scalable partnership will ideally involve application modernization, Azure Microservices, APIs, Azure Container Services, Azure Automation and DevOps in a scalable, robust, and iterative manner.
Wipro’s cloud Services works at the intersection of cloud, mobility and analytics to create simple, effective and future-ready digital solutions, firmly planting your business into the future.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org Click here to understand how you can leverage Wipro’s Application Modernization Services to future-ready your business, today.
[i] Statista.com,Accessed August 2020,https://www.statista.com/statistics/870924/worldwide-digital-transformation-market-size/
[ii] MarketsandMarkets,Accessed August 2020, https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/application-modernization-services.asp
[iii] Azure Growth and Market Share, Accessed August 2020, https://www.parkmycloud.com/blog/aws-vs-azure-vs-google-cloud-market-share/