Today is the era of digital business wherein the IT leadership needs to initiate a change among baffling complexities. Legacy application modernization is another name for that change. Enterprises keep a hawk’s eye on application modernization to streamline their IT architectures, cut down on the number of systems that fail to talk to each other, respond faster to continuous change, and accelerate their speed of innovation.
But is it easy to innovate and solve your legacy IT problems with application portfolio management, all without a pragmatic strategic framework in place?
You should consider these strategies to get started.
Triage to Recognize Near-Term Priorities
As you move through your legacy modernization journey, you need to prioritize what gets migrated first in your application portfolio based on the business value and function of each application. You can thus manage legacy app modernization in an efficient and cost-effective manner. When you monitor the workload characteristics of each application, you gain a better understanding of your critical and non-critical apps, what can be migrated, and how that migration is possible.
Based on Gartner’s Portfolio Triage Process, determine where each application fits within the TIME Chart, considering business value and function. Tolerate, Invest, Eliminate, and Migrate build up the four high-level categories of this chart.
Tolerate: Applications in this group deliver business value, but are not well-integrated with your company’s infrastructure, or even built on modern platforms.
Invest: These applications are also known to deliver significant business value, but demand investment in upgrading or integrating existing infrastructure, so that these applications can function at the highest level.
Migrate: In this category of applications, technologies that involve software are no longer supported or depend on a small group of human resources with specialized knowledge.
Eliminate: Applications in your inventory that have negligible to no business value, or in case application operating costs are much beyond the results delivered, they should be marked for elimination.
Once the TIME Chart is completed, your business enterprise clearly knows where each application fits into the IT process, and steps that should be taken to maximize the business value of each application.
Focus Business Case Only on Growth
While modernizing applications, enterprises shouldn’t only focus on risks, but also growth. Application modernization drives new business processes and the required infrastructure that supports them, leading to a larger market share, improved operational efficiency, reduced risk, accelerated business innovation, and exceptional customer experience. As the modernization process is long and takes time to materialize for your business, tying the business case to digital transformation is the best practice.
Architecture Choice’ Dependency on Business Goals
You need to identify your business goals and build your IT capabilities based on those goals. According to McKinsey & Company1, IT organizations that collaborate with businesses to shape an overall business strategy, while effectively employing technology, perform better in terms of provisioning core services and creating a healthy organizational culture.
For instance, if you are a retailer and your target end state is better customer segmentation, you need to develop advanced-analytics capabilities and have a centralized database in place. Once you have identified which existing application you need to modernize, it’s time to choose the best modernization approach.
Let us now look at a few of the modernization approaches.
Five R’s of Modernization
Rehost: This approach demands you to redeploy an application component to another physical, cloud, or virtual infrastructure, all without recompiling, changing the application code, or modifying features as well as functions.
Refactor: Here, you restructure and optimize the prevalent code without making any kind of change to the external behavior to eliminate technical debt and improve the component’s structure and features at the same time.
Rearchitect: The approach calls for materially changing the application code to shift it to a new application architecture while exploiting new and enhanced capabilities of the application platform to the optimal.
Rebuild: Here, you rewrite the application component, right from the beginning, preserving its scope and specifications at the same time.
Replace: Considering the new requirements of modernizing your legacy application portfolio, you fully eliminate the former application component and replace it.
Don’t Modernize Everything
Modernization doesn’t mean that you need to modernize every legacy system under the sun. There needs to be a pain point or issue that modernization helps to resolve. Focus your time on and invest in modernization efforts and initiatives that are well-controlled and help to meet objectives and areas of improvement regarding an application.
For instance, you don’t have to do a big overhaul with COBOL applications running for years. If you want to improve or change them, you can do that right on the mainframe.
Constant Focus on Modernization
Businesses need to continuously focus on modernization, and it should always be at the top of their priority. You can modernize your legacy systems in manageable increments. To set up a continuous modernization framework, establish dedicated modernization teams to work with business while aligning your business strategy with modernization goals. Recognize key business stakeholders of your app modernization initiatives, choose target improvement areas, and lay down a current performance baseline to ensure benchmarking.
Are you ready to leverage modernization for business innovation?
As you adopt these app modernization strategies, on the one hand, you protect the main-frame class reliability and rich functionality of legacy applications, and on the other hand, you end up with a comprehensive and effective application portfolio management (APM), turning legacy systems into platforms for business innovation and growth.
1. Partnering to Shape the Future – IT’s New Imperative, McKinsey Global