App modernization: software health vs. business impact

Mar 31, 2021
  • IT

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Considering how many custom-developed applications are out there, this must have once been quite a popular saying in IT departments. Unfortunately, life happens: original developers quit, code may get lost, or stability issues occur. On top of that, users’ needs and expectations change continuously. Who dares to release new functionality? App modernization is a strategy and service that helps businesses align their legacy software more closely with current needs. Here’s how it works and when it makes sense.

Throughout the course of their existence, many companies run into problems for which there is – apparently – no off-the-shelf solution. The IT department then creates its own software program with the singular purpose of solving that specific problem.

The whens and whys of app modernization

However, like any technology, these custom-built, business-critical applications become outdated after a few years. At best, this means they don’t fully align with users’ and business needs anymore. At worst, they are a security liability, but surely they cost the business a lot of money just to keep running. In many cases, the original development team has since moved on, taking along with it the insider knowledge needed to update the application to current standards.

Retail corporations spend up to 58% of their IT budget on maintaining legacy systems.

As more and more businesses are hit by this scenario, app modernization strategies and services have started to turn heads in IT departments across the globe. When executed properly by skilled experts, this approach enables businesses to:

  • identify for which applications and in what order modernization makes sense on a technical and business-strategic level;
  • determine the business case and required technical changes per application;
  • enjoy the benefits that modernized (cloud-based) applications bring, including SLA-based platform services, guaranteed scalability, flexibility and security, and a range of compatible services to choose from.

Analyze, prioritize, modernize

The first and most important step is thus determining which applications are eligible for modernization. This requires a careful and complex assessment taking into consideration business, technical, financial and strategic parameters. Traditionally, this was a laborious manual activity. Recently, we have been blessed with smart technology that can take over this task from us. Within our services we’ve embraced the product suite of CAST, which is known as ‘the MRI for software’: a powerful set of tools to analyze system architecture on the code level and offers unprecedented visibility into business software.

Technically, this is a pretty complex story – one which our experts are happy to dive into, by the way – but from a portfolio analysis perspective, software like CAST weighs ‘software health’ against ‘business impact’. Mapping applications on this graph helps businesses and enterprise architects to get a more holistic overview of which apps should be retired or consolidated, which should be modernized (invested in) or maintained, and when resources should be shifted. It also offers a clear view of where the priorities should be and what modernization strategy will be a good fit.

app modernization graph

Many roads to modernization

When it comes to the modernization itself, there are again lots of possibilities to choose from. In fact, each application will fit into one of the handful of standard scenarios: to replace, rehost, refactor, rebuild or rearchitect. Depending on the business context it can suffice to just change the hosting model and extend the application with embedded AI functionalities through cognitive or serverless cloud services.

Whichever way you look at it, app modernization is an absolute must for companies struggling with custom-built legacy software: whether the goal is to get rid of sky-high maintenance costs, future-proofing the IT department, or offering effortless experiences to employees and customers alike.

Our experts have developed a proven app modernization methodology that includes a CAST-powered assessment to assess tens of apps in just a week. Get in touch with our team and discover the value we can bring to your business.