January 3, 2017

Legacy App Modernization Challenges

Enterprises have been creating and using applications since the beginning of the IT era. Some of these applications built using older technologies and architecture are still being used today to support core business functions. This formula has worked for a few enterprises and a few enterprises are feeling the use of such applications being historic and dated. With the emergence of mobile devices and supporting software each day, enterprises are required to keep up to speed and transform their legacy applications running on older technology to new and updated technology while maintaining the same functionality or making it better.

Modernization of legacy applications does have its challenges, it is explained below in the following steps.

  1. Recognizing when an enterprise should make the shift to application modernization
    Enterprises using legacy applications start to get comfortable with the application and forget to keep up with the growing trends in technology by updating their application till a stage when it is too late. If this has happened to you, it would end up in a situation where you find the functionality of the application poses issues related to opportunities and challenges introduced by digitization and globalization of the general business environment. Legacy applications can limit your organization’s ability to meet current and future business needs effectively and efficiently, or to integrate emerging technologies. Such application performance issues are a good trigger for your enterprise to consider a shift towards application modernization.
  2. Laying the foundation for application modernization
    Now that you have identified the need for modernization, the next challenge is to understand where to start with the transformation of the legacy application. The first step towards this is to understand what impacts it will have on the infrastructure and the overall IT environment of the enterprise which includes the business, the IT stakeholders, and the costs involved. A few factors to consider are,

    • Identifying applications that require a replacement or upgrade.
    • Exploring the use of managed, shared, or cloud services
    • Choosing a platform that can blend well with the existing application or can be integrated with the same
    • Choosing a platform that can accommodate the current and future needs of the application.
    • Measuring the costs involved, which include continuing operating cost, maintenance cost, replacement costs. Apart from this, operational risks and unexpected cost of application failure.
  3. Planning your application
    Once you have estimated your costs and understood the requirements, the next step is to figure out what not to do with your application. For instance, removing redundancies from the legacy application and planning it in a way that can eliminate any duplication if any. Simplifying the application by prioritizing application requirements to meet business requirements makes it more extensible, sustainable, and efficient.
  4. Execution of the plan
    There is nothing more satisfying than being able to execute a well-laid plan. The same is true in the case of an application. To execute the plan, you must decide whether the application will be re-built, re-designed, or bought, or a combination of the three. There are different approaches to this such as,

    • Re-hosting the legacy application. Where the legacy application exists on a more flexible platform and exposes the data of the legacy application to be consumed by the modern application which is also cost-effective.
    • Code transformation, where software is used to disassemble the code and then the whole application is reconstructed in a new language keeping the naming conventions and business logic to the business specifications. This can be time-consuming and expensive.
    • Enterprises can invest in Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software that is supported by third-party vendors and can either have their application developed by them or buy the software or license and have it developed in-house. COTS can be either cloud-based or on-premise.
  5. Training, testing, and deployment
    Training, testing, and deployment are vital in the success of any application. Having the right training especially if the solution is COTS is essential as the user can see the benefit first hand with the use- cases being met. A visual, drag-and-drop feature in low-code COTS can flatten the learning curve – minimizing hand-coding while generating standard-based applications. Another key requirement of a legacy application modernization project is to have the stakeholders in the loop throughout the project and also enable collaborative development. This ensures an open forum and avoids rework of the nitty-gritty within the project. A good COTS or low-code platform should also provide a period of hand-holding for the end-users and stakeholders. A period of built-in support after deployment is also a good idea.
  6. Support and maintenance
    Applications that are built on modern standards and requirements are subject to changes in the form of updates. A modern application should have provisions for agility and scalability. In addition to this, the code generated should be easy to maintain. Low-code platforms used for legacy app modernization provides easy options as far as maintenance of code and keeping maintenance and support costs to a minimum.

The path to transforming a legacy application to a modern application is a rather challenging one and it needs to possess all the features of a modern application like quick and easy integrations to new technologies and adaptability to a host of new mobile devices.
WaveMaker low-code platform with its unique features like drag & drop visual development allows enterprises to successfully migrate Lotus Notes-based applications, Oracle Forms-based applications, and MS Access-based applications to state-of-the-art modern applications with minimal coding effort and costs.

Get Started to find out how WaveMaker’s Low-code Platform can modernize your legacy applications.