Prioritizing Progress: The Art of Application Modernization Prioritization
13 March 2023
In today’s fast-paced world, organizations are under immense pressure to keep up with the latest technological advancements. As technology evolves, legacy applications can quickly become outdated and inefficient, not to mention the ever growing security risks. This is where application modernization comes into play, allowing organizations to update and modernize their applications to stay relevant and competitive in the marketplace.
At FlowFactor, we work with many companies that are looking to modernize their applications and adopt a cloud-native way of working. As a DevOps company, we receive a lot of questions about how to get from point A to point B and where to start when it comes to modernization. To provide some insights into this process, we invited Kilian Niemegeerts and Johan Janssen, the managing partners of FlowFactor, to share their expertise and discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that come with application modernization prioritization.
What is Application Modernization?
According to Kilian Niemegeerts, “Application modernization is the process of taking existing applications and bringing them up to speed with modern technology standards.” This involves updating legacy applications to improve their efficiency, performance, and scalability by adopting modern technologies and practices.
Johan Janssen further explains that modernization involves “moving away from the traditional monolithic architectures towards cloud-native architectures and microservices.” This allows organizations to quickly develop, deploy, and scale applications in the cloud using a combination of containerization, orchestration, and automation. This leads to more adaptable and modular applications that can be aligned closer to the ever-changing business needs.
Application modernization prioritization is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It has multiple dimensions, and organizations need to evaluate each carefully to determine their modernization strategy. According to Kilian, “many organizations struggle to find a starting point for their modernization tracks, but there’s no silver bullet solution. Though generally you want to start via the path of least resistance and move from there.”
One dimension could be modernizing development teams, where the focus is on upskilling and reskilling team members to adopt modern technologies and practices. Another dimension could be modernizing individual applications, where the focus is on updating legacy applications to improve their performance, scalability, and efficiency.
On a technical level, there is also a debate between whether organizations should focus on modernizing applications or infrastructure first. Some argue that modernizing infrastructure first can be beneficial as it makes it easy for (parts of) an application to be modernized and run on new infrastructure. On the other hand, modernizing applications first, such as moving to containers, can result in smoother migrations and less disruption to the overall system.
Johan believes that there are three technical dimensions to modernization: platform modernization, automation modernization, and application modernization. Platform modernization often involves migrating to a container-based platform such as Kubernetes, which provides the scalability and flexibility necessary for modern applications. Automation modernization involves automating manual tasks such as deployment and testing to increase efficiency and reduce errors. Finally, application modernization involves modernizing the application code itself, such as by refactoring monolithic applications into microservices.
According to Johan, these three dimensions are interconnected and need to be tackled simultaneously to achieve maximum benefits. Platform modernization provides the foundation for automation and application modernization, while automation modernization enables faster and more reliable application modernization. Together, these three dimensions provide a comprehensive approach to modernization that delivers long-term benefits for organizations.
Pitfalls and Common Mistakes
While application modernization can offer numerous benefits, it’s not always an easy process, and organizations can fall into common pitfalls and make mistakes. One of the most significant mistakes organizations make is failing to evaluate the scope and impact of modernization fully. According to Johan, “organizations often underestimate the complexity of modernization, resulting in delays, cost overruns, and even project failure.”
Johan notes that modernization efforts can also become laser-focused on a particular aspect. He explains, “sometimes, someone in the organization becomes convinced that a specific aspect of modernization will be the silver bullet that solves all their problems.” This can lead to organizations neglecting other critical components of the modernization process. Kilian adds, “this can result in severe mismatches in technology that ultimately make the modernization process more complex and time-consuming.” For example, Kilian notes that some organizations have made the mistake of migrating their legacy applications to cloud-based infrastructures without considering how their databases and other components will interact with the new environment. If you want to read more about database modernization, you should definitely read our blog on the matter.
Another pitfall is the failure to involve all stakeholders in the modernization process. Kilian suggests that “modernization should involve not only infrastructure teams but also developers, business teams, security departments, end-users, and other relevant stakeholders.” This ensures that the modernization process aligns with the organization’s goals and meets end-user needs.
Another mistake is focusing solely on technology and neglecting process and culture. Johan warns that “modernization is not only about technology; it’s also about changing the way people work.” Organizations need to ensure they have the right processes and culture in place to support the adoption of modern technologies. Kilian adds “there’s a reason why application modernization and DevOps are both strongly featured on our website. They simply go hand in hand”
Finally, neglecting security is another, unfortunately common, mistake organizations make. Kilian stresses that “modernization must prioritize security and compliance to protect against cyber threats.” Neglecting security can result in data breaches, which can be costly and damage an organization’s reputation.
In conclusion, modernizing applications is a significant undertaking that requires careful consideration and planning to ensure success. As we have seen, prioritizing the right aspects of modernization, involving all stakeholders, and avoiding common pitfalls can significantly impact the outcome of the modernization process.
As Johan and Kilian from FlowFactor have emphasized throughout the interview, modernizing applications is not only about technology but also about changing the way people work. Organizations need to focus on building a culture of innovation, investing in their teams, and creating an environment that supports the adoption of modern technologies.
At FlowFactor, we help organizations navigate the complexities of modernization and guide them towards achieving their goals. Our team of experts can assist in evaluating the scope and impact of modernization, identifying priorities, and creating a roadmap for success.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help with your application modernization journey, don’t hesitate to contact us at FlowFactor. We’re always here to help.