It’s important to think of your application modernization initiative as a journey for continuous improvement and not just a project. This mindset can bring enormous benefits including:

Better Experiences
Better Experiences
Agility & Efficiency
Agility & Efficiency
Reduce Costs
Reduce Costs
Reliability & Security
Reliability & Security
Breaking Silos
Breaking Silos
Better Analytics
Better Analytics

Application Modernization vs. Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a broader initiative that takes advantage of technology to impact every aspect of a company’s organization, systems, and culture. Application modernization is often a key component of that digital transformation journey.

Application Modernization is better defined as the practice of upgrading newer systems and software systems which are often undertaken by high-ranking IT executives such as COO and CIO. These kinds of initiatives are typically undertaken to improve operations and infrastructure with long term vision.


The Modernization Challenge

Most enterprises are adopting a cloud-first strategy because of the enormous benefits of moving apps and services to the cloud. The problem arises when you have a complex environment with multiple legacy applications and business processes that must be maintained for at least a time while other applications move to the cloud. Those critical legacy application services that are critical to your business present a challenge, and there are several approaches including:


This is the strategy of moving legacy apps to the cloud as they are.

It is the lowest level solution and provides minimal benefits.


“Rip and replace” is just what it sounds like.

Where you Rip out the old app and put in a new system. This is the most challenging and ambitious course.


This is a hybrid approach where you integrate legacy applications and gradually build new systems to replace old ones. Because this is often the best path, we’ll explore this in more detail.
Moderization Exploded Graphic View


The Gradual Replacement Strategy

From a risk standpoint, rip and replace and rehosting as is present significant risks on each end of the spectrum. Rehosting may seem safe, but it provides the least amount of benefit with no clear path to further modernization. Rip and replace is also tempting because of the potential of making global change that has the most benefit, but it also introduces the risk of enormous disruption.

For complex environments with numerous legacy applications, often a better strategy is to gradually replace applications. By adopting a continuous improvement strategy, applications are first integrated, as they currently exist, through platforms to share data and automate processes with newer cloud-native applications.

Applications are replaced or rebuilt strategically, and gradually, learning at each step, then repeating the process. Because applications are replaced gradually over time, the risks and negative impacts on the organization are minimized and are much easier to manage.


Integration with an API Abstraction Layer

Modern, cloud-native applications invariably are built with an API-first architecture. Legacy siloed applications usually do not have APIs, nor is it practical to retrofit them. This presents a major integration challenge, often resulting in IT teams creating stand-alone integration solutions for sharing data between applications which can be cumbersome, complex, and fragile.

Interaction Layer
A better solution is to build an API abstraction layer that allows modern cloud-native apps to connect to key operational data. The API layer sits between your more modern cloud-native applications and your legacy systems, providing access to data and processes.

This API Abstraction approach has substantial benefits including data quality, managing changes more effectively, and improved security. And, once you create this API abstracted layer, you can expose your API to external vendors, customers, and partners without giving direct access to your internal systems.

Looking further forward, gradually replacing those legacy is much more straightforward because your API is now in place and you simply need to create those services and endpoints for a much more seamless integration.


Starting the Application Modernization Journey

Moderization Journey
Where and how do you start your application modernization journey?


Understanding your current state is the first step, and a comprehensive discovery process is critical. And beyond that, you also have to have a vision of where you want to go.


Active, engaged, and visible executive sponsors of any modernization or transformation journey is a key factor in its success. Without that, these initiatives often suffer from slower progress, and poor results.


Identifying mission-critical apps, prioritizing them, and mapping their functions and data structures is crucial. Allocating the right resources and developing a solid strategy and roadmap for implementation will ensure success.


This is where the rubber hits the road, and your roadmap is your guide. If you have a good plan, the right strategy, and allocated resources, implementation should go smoothly and decisively.


Any continuous improvement initiative relies on good data that informs the process, and allows you to measure success, and mitigate risks. This feedback loop will allow you to make ever better decisions, and to improve your performance.


Have you considered a Lighthouse Project?


How to get started on your application modernization journey is always difficult.

Tackling the most crucial systems is tempting, but it can also be fraught with additional risk.

To mitigate that risk and to demonstrate the value of application modernization, consider a Lighthouse Project, which is an easily defined project that serves as a model for your ongoing application modernization initiative.



Schedule Your Free Strategic Project Review & Project Brief

Application modernization doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s never done. Continuous improvement of your systems is the key to successful transformation. Not sure how to start that journey?


Let us help you find the right path