Are legacy systems holding your organization back? There comes a time when the weight of old technology becomes a major problem for any business. Companies running on older solutions are not only less productive, but often more expensive.
The Importance of Modernizing Technology
Why is digital transformation so important for the modern business? It comes down to ROI. Modernization improves companies in the following ways:
- Improved productivity. If employees are spending the majority of their time fighting with their systems, they aren’t at their most productive. Legacy solutions often come hand-in-hand with damaged productivity. Employees may not be able to finish their work in the way that they want to complete it. They may find themselves having to redo work because it has been lost, or find it difficult to collaborate with other employees due to technological barriers. Newer systems are designed to make it easier for employees to finish their work.
- Better working conditions. A company culture of modernization leads to better working conditions, which in turn leads to better talent. The more retained employees a company has, the better; it can cost many times an individual’s salary to train their replacement. While it may not seem significant, day-to-day frustrations regarding outdated systems and legacy solutions can easily become a stressor, and ultimately lead to employees seeking out greener pastures.
- Reduced operating costs. Though it may seem like it costs nothing to “keep” a legacy system, there’s an overhead cost attached. Legacy systems break down more frequently, requiring additional IT time. Furthermore, it can become increasingly difficult to find professionals who are well-versed in legacy systems, making it even more expensive to get the solutions fixed.
- Increased uptime. Outdated technology is very likely to break down, leading to downtime for an organization. New solutions are able to stay up longer and can even anticipate issues proactively, thereby keeping the company in continuous operation.
At all levels of an organization, digital transformation can lead to better returns. And companies do need to modernize eventually, the question is when. Much like someone might ask “When do I need to upgrade my car?” digital modernization is required when a company finds that it’s spending more money on repairing and managing an old solution than it would replacing it entirely.
Undergoing the Process of Modernization
With all that in mind, why are so many businesses hesitant to modernize? It comes down to cost and time. Many companies are put off by the upfront cost of modernization, or fear that they don’t have enough time to commit to it. They operate day-by-day fixing problems in their old, legacy systems, rather than engaging in a complete upgrade.
It’s easy for organizations to lose track of their repair and maintenance costs when they are trickling in a day at a time. But a modernized solution will not bear this tremendous overhead, and will instead make it easier for employees to work quickly and effectively. Because of this, companies need to strongly consider whether digital transformation is right for them.
And you don’t have to go it alone. A partner can help. A managed services partner can outline a path towards modernization that has minimal disruption. Over time, modernization will pay for itself. Many companies are already losing money to downtime, frustration, and lost productivity, and will be far more efficient and cost-effective with newer solutions. The next seven steps will help your comprise a more detailed plan for your modernization strategy.
1. Integrate tightly with DevOps and other cloud applications
On-demand enterprise applications should be the way applications are deployed. Utilizing tight continuous deployment tools and processes as with DevOps makes upgrading enterprise applications much easier especially when you take a point-and-click, push-button approach through a modern UI.
In addition, using the on-demand capabilities mean the provisioning of new instances should be hands-free and fully automated. Integrating virtualized application environments with tools that most companies are already using to provision infrastructure. The key enhancement being proposed is directly connecting a catalog of portable, virtualized application components directly with the orchestration tools, including the provisioning of storage options, which also need to be fully automated. This is made possible by the fact that modern applications won’t have any dependencies on the specific data stores on which they rely.
2. Break down the behemoth!
To create a virtualized application environment, you much begin to look at your legacy system as individual components and you must deconstruct it into different building blocks and configurations. Breaking it down this way will make it much easier to create the virtualized environment that will flourish in a cloud environment. While these approaches have been tried before, advances with software-defined infrastructure make this approach possible to implement at scale.
3. Remove the dependency on the infrastructure
To achieve complete portability from your components in your enterprise applications you must be abstracted and separated from any dependency on underlying infrastructure. Software-defined infrastructure is possible by abstracting the functions of an application into components that can run anywhere, it’s possible to then move the application to different infrastructure combinations, without changing a single line of code. Breaking the dependence and vendor-lock-in and gaining flexibility can happen by achieving complete portability between cloud environments, container tools, storage options, required to move their applications to vendors that offer the best combination of price, performance, reliability, and features.
4. Reducing costs by creating context
An organization’s entire application lifecycle is made up of many different application environments—different versions with different deployment options. Once an organization separates a legacy application into its essential components, a catalog can be maintained to make it easy to create an almost unlimited number of new versions of the application. This approach enables developers, test engineers, and DevOps teams can pick and choose whatever combinations of components they need, or quickly clone existing complex application environments for testing or deployment. Because the catalog has all the necessary information the cloning process should only take minutes to access. This also dramatically speeds up integration testing, performance testing, planning, and migration processes.
5. Security at all levels of development
Whenever we recommend that security measures be integrated during development, we often get push-back from our clients. Security is not something that is tacked on after deployment. Doing so slows down continuous delivery processes such as DevOps and creates friction between the DevOps and the security teams. Instead, consider security an essential component of your overall application environment and treat it the same as any other component, by integrating it into the application from the start of the development process. In this way, organizations can protect legacy applications the instant they are deployed, regardless of the infrastructure used.
6. Tight DevOps Integration
You want your applications to be easy to upgrade, this can happen much more smoothly when you take a point-and-click, push-button approach through a modern UI, as well as pursuing tight integration with continuous deployment tools and processes such as DevOps.
The benefits of modern application development should include on-demand functionality, meaning the provisioning of new instances should be hands-free and fully automated. This can be accomplished by integrating virtualized application environments with orchestration tools that most companies are already using to provision infrastructure. The most important enhancement being proposed is directly connecting a catalog of portable, virtualized application components directly with the orchestration tools, including the provisioning of storage options, which also need to be fully automated. This enhanced functionality is made possible by the fact that modern applications won’t have any dependencies on the specific data stores on which they rely.
7. Modern applications are modular
You must achieve a modular view of applications to move forward in your modernization process. This modular view allows organizations to run and test applications in a virtualized environment and realize a few important things. First, organizations can now manage applications at an individual component level. Second, the data on which those applications rely becomes just another building block.
Before modernization, data was just another piece of the monolithic puzzle. Now, modern applications can be and must be infrastructure-agnostic, and they can use infrastructure resources no matter where they are located or how many clouds they use.