The Nuts and Bolts of Application Modernization, Migration, and Cloud-Native Development


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I’m in the cloud, so that must mean I’m using a cloud-native, modern solution, right? Well, not so fast.

Getting to the cloud doesn’t mean your enterprise system is cloud-native. Many companies have simply moved the existing applications to the cloud (lift and shift) but they haven’t changed the application architecture much, if at all. In those instances, it’s impossible to take true advantage of the benefits of cloud computing. To get those benefits, applications need to be built from the ground up (rearchitected as cloud-native) or moved and then modernized over time (refactored).

Despite the different roads to application modernization, there’s one thing everyone wants: to get the most out of their cloud infrastructure. The end goal for an optimal cloud ecosystem is to have all apps architected, designed, developed, packaged, and managed for the cloud. According to the CNCF’s latest survey, the use of cloud-native technologies has grown approximately 200 percent in the past year alone, underscoring the growth of this movement.

So how do you approach modernizing your applications? Let’s start at the beginning.

How did we get here?

Years ago, you built a large core application containing all your domain logic — modules such as identity, catalog, ordering, and more. They directly communicated with each other within a single server process and shared a large relational database. The core exposed functionality via an HTML interface and a mobile app.

The result: you now have a monolithic application. Not all is bad. Monoliths offered some distinct advantages. For example, they’re straightforward to build, test, deploy, and troubleshoot. Many successful apps that exist today were created as monoliths and continued to evolve, iteration after iteration, adding more functionality.

At some point, however, you began to feel uncomfortable. You found yourself losing control of the application and began to worry that:

  • The app had become overwhelmingly complicated and no single person understands it
  • You fear making changes – each change has unintended and costly side effects
  • New features/fixes become tricky, time-consuming, and expensive to implement
  • Each release becomes as small as possible and requires full deployment of the entire application
  • One unstable component can crash the entire system
  • Modern technologies and frameworks aren’t an option
  • It’s difficult to implement agile delivery methodologies

Sound familiar? When you start to adopt this fear cycle, it’s time to investigate the options to modernize some of your existing applications and/or ‘lift and shift’ them to the cloud.

How do we get out of here?

Modernizing your legacy applications in a way that will have the highest impact and deliver the most value to your organization is critical. But before you do this, it is vital to understand the different legacy application modernization options, so you can map the impact to your underlying technology architecture and functionality and assess associated costs and risks.

Migration OptionDetails
Lift and Shift or replatformChanging the platform on which the application runs, typically to another hosting service, without making changes or adding functionality to the existing application. Commonly referred to as lift and shift because servers or applications are lifted from the current hosting environment and shifted to infrastructure in the public cloud.  
RearchitectCompletely re-architect applications to better suit the new cloud environment. This approach involves modifying your existing applications, or a large chunk of the codebase to take advantage of the cloud and the extra flexibility that comes it. New functionalities can be added, features introduced, and processes optimized.  
ReplaceReplacing can include several options, from re-writing from scratch to migrating to SaaS services. Many common business workloads (such as Exchange or SharePoint) have equivalent SaaS offerings and can be an alternative to running application infrastructure in the cloud, typically with higher availability and lower TCO.  
Retain on-premisesFor some applications, running on-premises may be the only realistic option, for example, if regulatory requirements require data to reside within national borders and no local Azure region is available.

This illustration provides another view of how to categorize modernization options:

Hitachi Solutions Approach

We’ve been doing this work for a long time.

With application modernization, we aim to help you deliver value as quickly as possible. It starts with discovery exercises designed to identify which of your apps will drive fast, meaningful ROI when modernized. An assessment of your current application code helps accelerate the process by identifying the true blockers and the extent of configuration or code changes required. We’ll communicate and interpret the complexities for all non-technical team members so everyone is clearly aware.

Depending on your business needs, we can redesign your applications, rewrite them with the latest technologies and design patterns, or consolidate multiple applications into one for enhanced performance and scalability. We also provide a range of web and mobile enablement, user, and database upgrade services to boost the user experience as well as ROI.

Minimum Viable Products

Modernizing applications for the cloud can be an enormous and expensive undertaking — but it doesn’t need to be. For almost all companies, it simply won’t always be cost-effective or time-efficient to modernize every application you have.

We often propose creating a Minimum Viable Project (MVP) allows you to get started, within a well-defined scope, rather than adopting a big bang approach for data modernization. Some companies prefer this more pragmatic approach, moving a single workload for early migration — early success builds confidence and provides a demonstrable return on investment.

Getting Started

Modernization needs to be a carefully considered, long-term process that’s based on a solid application discovery assessment. The strategy needs to consider where your organization is headed and why —while building in enough flexibility to adapt over time.

The most successful modernization efforts start with a documented business outcome that is concise and well-defined and can drive clear results or change in business performance, supported by a specific measure. Hitachi Solutions can get you there.

With a core competency in Application Development on the Microsoft platform and a preferred partnership with Microsoft Azure, Hitachi Solutions is uniquely positioned to help you with your cloud migration and application development needs. We’ve also received many advanced specializations designations from Microsoft which further differentiate our expertise in cloud-native migration and development.

Our Azure cloud enablement services include the full breadth of cloud roadmap and strategy assessments, cloud application migration services, and custom web and cloud-scale applications development so you can:

  • Identify and prioritize the right applications to migrate or build new for Azure
  • Build or refactor business applications to take full advantage of cloud scale and requirements
  • Ensure an agile, continuous cloud update and delivery model through our Managed Services team

Are you interested in learning more about application modernization in the cloud? Contact us today! You can also check out the following offers related to kickstarting your app modernization efforts: