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Debunking Low-Code Myths to Empower App Modernization

You’re a dev, so low-code platforms are useless. Wrong! Read on to find out why.

Everyone seems to be talking about low-code nowadays. Low-code app development platforms are already taking the IT world by storm. Moreover, the idea of being able to swiftly develop applications with minimal coding is appealing in itself. It has been aiding app modernization in all business verticals. But, with popularity, comes various perceptions and misconceptions. It is necessary to separate facts from myths in order to know the true capabilities of low-code app development platforms.

In forums and other channels, a lot of questions come in to get a better idea of what low-code is all about. Here is a list of popular low-code myths and some arguments to debunk them:

  • Myth 1: Low-code platforms are only for the build phase of the SDLC. As the name goes, low-code app development platforms seem to be meant only for the development phase of the software development lifecycle. But that is not true. There are excellent low-code platforms that can very efficiently support the entire app delivery lifecycle — design, build, deploy, operate, monitor, and iterate. Equipped with visual development tools, these platforms come with added capabilities like agile management, social collaboration, one-click deployment, end-user feedback loops, and many more. The built-in DevOps features facilitate a shorter time-to-market by seamlessly moving the app through the app lifecycle. In short, a solid low-code platform can act as a one-stop solution for handling all the stages of the application lifecycle.
  • Myth 2: Low-code is just for citizen developers and anyone can use it to develop all types of apps with ease. Before dwelling into this myth, let us consider the types of app builders out there.
    • The citizen developers: This category consists of people who have no coding knowledge and are operating at the front lines of businesses in areas such as sales, HR, marketing, customer service, etc.
    • The power builders: This category has people who are in the IT units supporting business units or operations. They do not have formal coding experience but are skilled with spreadsheets and have a basic knowledge of scripting languages like JavaScript, VBScript, Python, etc.
    • The professional developers: These people are coding specialists and are experts in programming languages that require formal training to master.

    So, which category can use low-code development platforms? The answer is all of these. All three categories can use low-code platforms but the functionality and complexity of the applications developed will vary. Using a low-code platform, citizen developers can develop very simple applications that can offer basic functionalities. Power builders can build applications with more functionalities than that offered by citizen developers. Professional developers, on the other hand, can deliver complex applications with multiple functionalities and automation processes. A low-code platform lets a professional developer build application swiftly by reducing the amount of manual coding required. In short, a low-code platform enhances the capabilities of all types of developers by letting them do more than what they are capable of in app development.

  • Myth 3: Low-code platforms and no-code platforms are one and the same. People are often confused between the terms low-code and no-code and tend to use it interchangeably. Gartner and Forrester added to this confusion by not differentiating between the two. Gartner collectively refers to all app development platforms as a High-Productivity Application Platform-as-a-Service while Forrester divides the world of app development platforms into two segments, namely Low-Code Development and Mobile Low-Code Development. Jason Bloomberg, in his Forbes article, says, “the Low-Code and No-Code terminology itself is misleading, as the distinction isn’t about whether people need to code or not. The distinction is more about the types of people using these platforms to build applications.” This sums up the required differentiation between low-code and no code platforms. Low-code platforms are capable of allowing citizen developers to create apps without any coding and are also capable of letting professional developers create applications with a reduced amount of coding. While no-code platforms let citizen developers create basic apps, they are of no use to professional developers.
  • Myth 4: Low-code platforms cannot help you develop large-scale applications with elaborate UI/UX designs. As the difference between low-code and no-code is vague for many people, it leads to a perception that low-code platforms have a limited capability of customizability and scalability. Low-code platforms, on the contrary, can accommodate small business needs to highly complex enterprise needs. Even modernization of bulky and complex legacy applications is possible using a low-code platform. Low-code platforms also offer all the necessary tools to develop engaging UI/UX designs. The option to custom code and reuse business logic gives developers the freedom to add all the required functionalities and customize it to meet business needs.

Now that the truth about these myths is finally out, businesses can leverage low-code app development platforms to develop future-proof applications and scale. But, while looking for a suitable low-code platform, make sure you avoid some major pitfalls that can prove to be disastrous for your business.

Originally published by Spruha Pandya in Dzone

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Are you a digital-ready enterprise? checklist for CIOs

This article provides the much needed checklist for CIOs, to assess the digital-readiness of their enterprises.

The goal of nearly every enterprise – regardless of industry focus or vertical – is to position its products and services to reach the masses as quickly and efficiently as possible. But to do so in today’s modern business environment, an enterprise must operate as a digital business.

Embodying a modern digital business requires that CIOs make a conscious and strategic effort to ensure they’re providing the newest experiences, offerings, and business models that users are looking for – or risk losing out to the competition. At its core, this objective hinges on enterprise CIOs’ ability to maintain IT infrastructure that can nimbly evolve and scale with the ever-changing digital environment.

Here is a checklist of the top features that define modern digital-ready enterprises to help CIOs quickly assess whether they’re meeting the mark – and form a tangible plan for modernisation if not.

Take a look at team structure

When assessing digital readiness, the first factor a CIO must evaluate is IT team structure. Are various IT environments unified, or do different subgroups have their own processes, technologies, and objectives? If the latter, CIOs will face a larger challenge managing resources, skills, and objectives across the enterprise – which is a threat to innovation, agility, and scalability. IT teams with distinct and isolated islands of technical knowledge will not be able to quickly execute on the projects needed to achieve modern digital-readiness.

Assess the client experience

The client experience is critical to the success of a modern enterprise, and customer demands are more fast-moving than ever before due to factors like mobile technology, automation, and machine learning. As a result, an enterprise’s customer and user experiences must be visually appealing as well as fully responsive so individuals can make contact with the firm quickly and intuitively from any channel, device, or location. Rapid access to this feedback and engagement is a key part of refining technical and operational business processes from the CIO perspective – so it’s important that the digital customer journey includes well-defined touchpoints across multiple channels to facilitate client responsiveness.

Consider cloud capabilities

Being a modern digital enterprise requires having a software infrastructure that is capable of scaling with growing business demands. In many cases, achieving the level of speed and agility needed to remain competitive can be addressed through the adoption of cloud-native software, which is designed to harness the efficiency of cloud computing delivery models. CIOs that have not yet implemented cloud-native technology are forfeiting numerous benefits, including flexible application development, faster-acting IT systems, and reduced operating costs.

Capitalise on continuous delivery models

Cloud functionality and continuous delivery capabilities go hand in hand. Implementing continuous delivery models allows CIOs to create a strong feedback loop between the business and its customers by enabling software updates to be built, tested, and released rapidly at the touch of a button without affecting usage. Enterprises that employ a continuous delivery model to optimise their IT investments will have an edge on overall organizational performance as compared to the ones that that are not able to deliver their value as quickly and reliably to end-users.

Evaluate service ecosystem connectivity

Maintaining a digital-ready IT infrastructure also requires assessing the connectivity of systems used with the enterprise. The typical business leverages a wide range of systems – including internal enterprise systems, external tools the firm has adopted (like a CRM), and hybrid applications that the enterprise is developing. Do these three buckets of systems interact to share data in an integrated manner? A lack of streamlined connectivity can paralyse an enterprise’s ability to respond to changing user demands from an IT infrastructure perspective.

Create a gap-closing game plan

Attaining the above checklist items is all part of maturing as a digital enterprise and investing in the long-term viability of IT infrastructure. However, a final component of a holistic digital-readiness checklist is assessing whether CIOs have a plan in place for closing any gaps in modernized capabilities. If an enterprise isn’t quite hitting the mark, there are many system integrators, low-code platforms, and industry specialists firms can tap into to maintain a modern IT environment capable of agile growth and scale without disrupting the productivity.

Originally published by Vijay Pullur, CEO WaveMaker, in Enterprise-CIO.com

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Software modernization myths likely holding you back

Highlighting four prevalent myths holding developers, and IT leaders back from successful legacy application modernization projects.

As new cloud, AI, and mobile technologies continue to shape the tech landscape, it’s increasingly challenging for developers and IT leaders to maintain up-to-date applications in the face of nonstop innovation. It’s no wonder that many industry professionals are concerned about their ability to effectively and affordably complete an application modernization project, citing obstacles such as a lack of funding, skill, or experience to pull the process off.

However, many of these fears are commonly believed myths that can be overcome with the right approach and a strategic use of third-party resources. In this day and age, tackling legacy application modernization does not have to be costly, complex, or disruptive.

Myth 1: “Refreshing UI counts as modernization”

Revamping an application’s UI is simply not enough to cross modernization off an enterprise’s to-do list. When it comes to anything but the most basic legacy applications, a fresh look is just a starting point. Most enterprise applications are extensive and have complex workflows, meaning that a UI facelift will not necessarily improve the end-user’s experience or address a company’s larger business goals. Projects must target the deeper tech layer of an application in order to result in meaningful modernization.

Myth 2: “Modernizing our application will be too disruptive to our business”

Minimally invasive modernization projects are within reach with the availability of new technologies and Rapid Application Development platforms. For example, wrapping is a process in which developers can apply a layer of API to a legacy system in order to refresh an application’s capabilities without touching the original architecture. Developers can also connect an API directly to the back-end of a legacy application, individually wrapping each system and eliminating the need to integrate local service data. Not all modernization scenarios require a painful platform switch – instead, APIs can be used to integrate new, fresh functionalities into the existing legacy system.

Myth 3: “Our IT team doesn’t have the resources for modernization”

In-depth technical knowledge is not a prerequisite for application modernization – there are many low-code platforms and services that offer templates, widgets, and other “drag and drop” features that can streamline IT teams’ time and resources. In addition to giving developers the tools to quickly and intuitively build and deploy new functionalities, Rapid Application Development platforms simplify the modernization process through automation. Features like automatic data integration, security checks, and cross-platform support can reduce the time developers must spend fixing basic, error-prone, and technical aspects of a project, freeing up their resources to focus on bigger picture business and functionality goals.

Myth 4: “We can’t afford a modernization project right now”

Taking the time to identify the top priorities for a modernization project in advance can keep processes affordable and financially strategic. IT leaders must closely examine their own business objectives as well as their existing application architecture in order to choose a focused path toward modernization that will be impactful, yet versatile enough to be a future-proof investment. For example, many enterprises may find integrating open source software during a modernization project to be a productive investment that pays off in terms of cost efficiency and the long-term flexibility of avoiding vendor lock-in when future updates need to be made.

Moreover, in today’s ever-changing digital environment, enterprises cannot afford to let their applications stagnate – especially considering the fact that 90 percent of consumers would consider taking their business elsewhere rather than work with a company that uses outdated technology. Understanding the common myths surrounding modernization projects will help developers and IT leaders shake off their concerns and identify the resources they need to update legacy applications while balancing risk, cost, flexibility, and speed.

Originally published by Vijay Pullur, CEO WaveMaker, in App Developer Magazine

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Finding Your Application Modernization Balance

In today’s always-on world in which technology is now a chief driver of competitive value, organizations must strike a new balance and find a way to do it all — especially tackling the modernization efforts that they have put off for far too long.

If you’re an IT leader, you may be avoiding the industry press these days. Every article seems to spell out another grave challenge that you must face.

The threat of the cloud, the threat of not moving to the cloud, the talent gap, the impact of AI, and on and on. There is no shortage of challenges and risks — or of companies lining up to help you solve them.

The greatest challenge facing IT leaders, however, is not new. In fact, it is as old as the industry itself: balancing the deployment of resources and battling the constant pressure to do more with less.

This challenge is perhaps most prominent when IT leaders attempt to address the issue of modernizing their aging legacy application stack. In the first three installments in this four-part series, we examined the rock and the hard spot that it leaders found themselves between as they grappled with the modernization challenge — and how a new low-code enabled third option was presenting itself.

But no amount of technology or new services can solve this problem without IT leaders first addressing the issue of resource balancing.

The Losing Fight for Balance

While the resource balancing challenge has existed from the very beginning, I’d argue that IT leaders have mostly succeeded at striking it.

While maintaining previously deployed systems and the so-called business-as-usual (BAU) state has long consumed most of IT’s resources, the pace of new demand was manageable enough to sustain the balance.

At least, until recently.

In the mad rush to all things digital, organizations have shifted more resources to growth-oriented initiatives to either stave off disruption or seize disruptive opportunities. At the same time, the legacy technology stack continued to age and, paradoxically, became even more essential these new applications relied on them for transaction handling and records management.

All at once, enterprise leaders found that they no longer needed to merely balance between new applications and BAU functions, but must also face the need to modernize their legacy systems to both reduce growing maintenance challenges and to ensure that they could continue to support newly emerging customer-facing functions.

Like a tightrope-walking juggler, IT leaders found themselves fully engaged and unable to even contemplate taking on anything else — particularly of the scale and scope of modernization efforts.
And as a result, the balance that IT organizations had so precariously managed was now lost.

Modernization in the Balance

As we’ve explored throughout this series, IT leaders have been able to sidestep this issue by putting off modernization efforts for another day.

But as we’ve also examined, the need to modernize the IT stack has become an existential threat to IT organizations.

The bill has come due and IT organizations must find a way to create a new balance point between these three competing demands: continue to meet the insatiable demand for new and modern applications, maintain the existing technology infrastructure in a reliable and resilient state, and do these while modernizing legacy applications to ensure that the organization can continue to meet future demand.

To do so, enterprise IT leaders need to take a new approach when balancing their resources.

Traditionally, IT organizations created an operational baseline. This baseline was the BAU function, and it had to be done. New projects, including modernization, were then prioritized based on business priority (but often measured in terms of strict financial Return On Investment, or ROI).

Ironically, using that approach, modernization almost never rose to the top because it lacked the near-term ROI to justify it.

IT leaders must shift the foundation of their resource balancing effort away from financial ROI (although it will always remain a component) and, instead, categorize every existing and potential application on the basis of its ability to contribute to the competitive value of the organization.
The organization should then deploy its precious internal resources to build, maintain, or modernize those applications that support the organization’s competitive posture in the market. IT leaders should then outsource the development, maintenance, and modernization of the remaining stack based on organizational risk.

Intellyx Take

Perhaps the most significant change between today and the IT resource balancing act of the past is that there is no longer an option to say no.

In the past, when applications were predominately internally facing, it was acceptable to say that the IT organization lacked the resources to meet any given request.

In today’s always-on world in which technology is now a chief driver of competitive value, that’s no longer an option. Organizations must find a way to do it all — especially tackling the modernization efforts that they have put off for far too long.

It is in this context that IT leaders must seek to use every resource at their disposal, but do so in a strategically sound way. The third way of application modernization and partnering with companies such as WaveMaker that we’ve explored in this series is one way that IT leaders can strike this new balance.

The most critical step, however, is merely recognizing that it is a new balance that you must strike. You must accept that you need to do it all and do it in a way that most strategically leverages your internal resources.

Anything less will leave you off-balance — and that’s a terrible state when you’re walking a tightrope.


Originally published by Charles Araujo in Intellyx BrainBlog

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. WaveMaker is an Intellyx client. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.

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Low-Code and the Third Way of App Modernization

While the primary driver of the low-code movement was to improve enterprise developer productivity and to create a more agile and collaborative development workflow, the evolution of these platforms has also opened the door to a new hybrid approach to application modernization.

Modernizing the enterprise application stack has been a persistent challenge for enterprise leaders. With tons of risk and little short-term upside, they have understandably put their modernization efforts in the critical, but not urgent category of their to-do lists — hoping beyond hope that the situation would somehow become more manageable in the future.

While this procrastination technique is rarely a good strategy, enterprise leaders may have caught a break.

As I discussed in the first two blogs of this four-part series, enterprise leaders have had few good options as they tried to address the application modernization dilemma. Forced to choose between modernizing or meeting new demand, the choice was simple — enterprises left modernization for another day.

A new class of technology companies, however, are taking advantage of the emergence of so-called low-code development platforms to create a new, third option for enterprise leaders. This new approach may finally offer enterprise leaders a way to simultaneously keep resources free to meet new demand while modernizing their application stack quickly and without the high costs and bad outcomes that typically came with outsourcing these efforts.

Low-Code: Changing Face of Development

To understand why this third path to Legacy application modernization is now possible, you must first understand how changing enterprise demands led to the evolution of what we now call low-code development platforms.

As long as there have been programming languages, there has been a desire to make the creation of applications easier and more accessible. For the most part, this evolution has played out in the form of new generations of languages that were progressively easier to use, more human-readable, and more extensible.

With each successive generation, productivity increased, and development became easier — enabling enterprises to more readily hire or train new developers.

Eventually, however, this led to even more radical attempts to improve productivity and accessibility. Efforts such as the Rapid Application Development (RAD) movement and early visual development tools aimed to reduce the amount of hand-coding necessary to develop applications. These early efforts, however, were cumbersome and often failed to deliver the promised productivity gains.

Still, as digital transformation began to take root within enterprise organizations, the demand for applications grew exponentially — and most enterprises simply did not have the resources to keep up using traditional hand-coded approaches.

As a result of these market demands, a new generation of development platforms entered the market that used visual interfaces, declarative models, and configuration approaches to create enterprise applications. With this approach, developers could build applications with little or no hand-coding — thus, the industry called these platforms ‘low-code’.

The promise of low-code platforms is that they enable enterprise developers to create more applications, develop them more quickly, adapt and change them more easily, and to do so in closer collaboration with application sponsors and consumers. Unsurprisingly, enterprise organizations are now adopting these platforms en masse to achieve these gains.

While the primary driver of the low-code movement was to improve enterprise developer productivity and to create a more agile and collaborative development workflow, the evolution of these platforms has also opened the door to a new hybrid approach to application modernization.

A Hybrid Approach to Application Modernization

When enterprises turned to traditional outsourcers to help with modernizations efforts, the results were often poor. The reason is that the complex nature of these projects resulted in long, involved development efforts. To be successful, these projects would require substantial involvement by the enterprise’s most valuable technical resources (negating the value of outsourcing) or would leave the outsourcer flying blind until late in the project.

Neither choice led to a good outcome.

The emergence of low-code development platforms, however, made available a hybrid approach to modernization. Technology companies, like WaveMaker, realized that they could build a low-code platform that would enable them to rapidly prototype solutions and reduce development time. This capability, in turn, made it easier to engage with customers earlier and more often during the development process.

Moreover, the ability to rapidly adapt and change applications and to develop them from a business process perspective allowed both rapid iteration as well as the ability to interact with non-technical users (rather than in-demand technical resources) for direction and guidance.

Finally, the use of low-code development platforms enabled organizations to more closely partner with their technology providers to continually adapt the applications as business needs changed over time — helping to ensure that they will not need another round of modernization in the future.

The Intellyx Take

This hybrid approach to modernization is starkly different than the previous options available to enterprise leaders. In fact, it is an approach that is almost impossible to achieve without the use of low-code platforms.

The ability for a technology partner to rapidly prototype, develop, test, and iterate during the development of complex and highly integrated apps enables enterprise leaders to effectively get the best of both worlds: they free their resources to meet new demand, while reducing the costs and risks traditionally associated with outsourcing modernization efforts.

Perhaps even more importantly, the use of low-code platforms in modernization efforts provides a layer of protection for enterprise leaders. The ability to continually adapt and change these complex, mission-critical applications offers them a degree of business agility that may otherwise be difficult to attain.

None of this, however, allows IT to entirely escape its responsibility. The critical nature of these legacy applications will always require a degree of attention from IT. The difference is that with this hybrid approach, the organization’s most valuable and knowledgeable resources will only engage when their specialized expertise is truly necessary.

Leveraged effectively, this hybrid approach will allow enterprise leaders to strike the mythical balance needed to make application modernization a modern reality.


Originally published by Charles Araujo in Intellyx BrainBlog

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. WaveMaker is an Intellyx client. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.

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The Third Way to Application Modernization

A new modernization approach combines new application development platforms with a fresh take on outsourcing, helping enterprises overcome inertia and finally bring their legacy applications into the modern age.

Application modernization is now a top-of-mind issue for virtually every enterprise IT executive.

However, as I discussed in the first blog of this four-part series, The Problem with Application Modernization, the lack of a reasonable means to execute modernization has led most organizations to put-off their modernization efforts.

The bill for this delay is now coming due.

Enterprise leaders must find a way to respond, or they will find themselves unable to compete as their legacy application architectures tie them down and leave them unresponsive to changing marketplace demands.

The challenges that led to the inertia in the first place, however, remain. The two traditional application modernization approaches still leave enterprise leaders between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

This dilemma has led many organizations to explore a third way of approaching the problem. This new modernization approach combines new application development platforms with a fresh take on outsourcing, which in combination, helps enterprises overcome modernization inertia and finally bring their legacy applications into the modern age.

The Modernization Dilemma

Enterprise executives have to make tough choices as they decide where to apply their stretched budgets and human resources. Every dollar and every hour is precious, and they understand that they must use them strategically or they will put their organization’s future — not to mention their own career — at risk.

When faced with the need to modernize their application stack, the starting point for most enterprise leaders is to have internal teams handle the job. After all, the core application architectures that often require modernization are typically some of the most mission-critical applications in the enterprise.

The fragility and intricacy of the legacy architectures demand in-depth knowledge and awareness of the organization — validating the need for the hands-on involvement of in-house resources. At the same time, however, that same fragility and intricacy results in massively intensive re-platforming and redesign efforts.

As a way to relieve the demand on their internal resources, many IT leaders look to outsourcing vendors to take on this resource-intensive initiative. The ability to hand-off the project and free-up their most valuable team members for other immediate needs is enticing.

The dense development nature of these types of modernization projects, however, often cause these efforts to fail. In some cases, outsourcers attempt to execute the modernization effort without the in-depth knowledge they require, resulting in costly overruns and delays as they go through the inevitable trial-and-error process that ensues.

In other cases, outsourcers will demand a considerable amount of time from internal development resources to get the in-depth knowledge they require to complete the modernization effort successfully. While this generally results in a better outcome, the demand on internal resources largely negates the benefit of outsourcing the project in the first place.

The Third Way to App Modernization

A new development approach is enabling a hybrid method of application modernization that offers IT leaders the best of both worlds and a way out of this dilemma: low-code development platforms.

Low-code development platforms, which we’ll explore in detail in the next blog post, enable development teams to rapidly develop, test, and deploy applications with little-to-no hand-coding. Instead, developers use declarative approaches in which they specify the constructs and actions of the desired application and let the development platform create or render it.

While low-code development platforms offer in-house development teams a way to speed and streamline development activities, they also provide something else: a way to change how they approach modernization.

Using open, standards-based low-code platforms, companies like WaveMaker are bringing the benefits of this new development approach together with teams of skilled developers to offer enterprises a third way to modernize their application stack.

The nature of low-code development platforms enable companies like WaveMaker to develop redesigned legacy applications for their enterprise clients more rapidly, reducing the time and cost typically associated with modernization efforts.

Moreover, because low-code development platforms allow for rapid prototyping and testing, outside developers can work more closely with in-house teams without creating a resource burden.

Also, because this interaction is less technical and focused on functionality rather than coding and interfaces, it can take place with business users or analysts rather than within in-house development teams — helping enterprise IT leaders strike the balance they require.

The Intellyx Take

Application modernization is a now-critical activity for enterprise organizations. Legacy application stacks will only become more fragile as time goes on. At the same time, these legacy applications are rapidly being pulled into modern workflows as enterprises find they must innovate up-and-down the stack.

Still, the combination of resource constraints, increasing demand, and few good options have made the modernization road a difficult one to navigate.

While there is no escaping the fact that enterprise leaders must be intimately involved with any modernization effort, they must also find a way to maximize its benefit while reducing the resource drain that it produces.

Combining low-code development platforms with outside teams of developers who can work with various enterprise teams — and leave in-house development teams unencumbered — may provide enterprise leaders the third option they need to find a pathway to modernization success.


Originally published by Charles Araujo in Intellyx BrainBlog

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. WaveMaker is an Intellyx client. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.

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The Problem with Application Modernization

There are many demands and challenges surrounding application modernization, but new developments are opening up a new approach to addressing it, and it may help enterprises finally strike a balance between the need to develop new applications while modernizing their existing application stack.

Application modernization is now a top-of-mind issue for every IT leader — yet most organizations are doing little to actually modernize their application stack. Why?

On the one hand, there is tremendous pressure on IT leaders to move beyond the legacy application architectures of the past and create modern applications that will enable organizational agility, speed, and the ability to create the types of customer and employee experiences that drive competitive value.

Achieving this modernization, however, is more difficult than it sounds.

After years of belt-tightening, the modern enterprise IT organization is already running mean-and-lean and at-capacity, straining its ability to keep up with new demand — let alone modernize the in-production application stack.

These counterforces of increased demand and constrained resources, in combination with the complexity of legacy architectures, have left IT leaders struggling with how to approach application modernization.

In this four-part blog series, we will examine the demands and challenges surrounding application modernization, why new developments are opening up a new approach to addressing it, and how it may help enterprises finally strike the balance they need as they simultaneously develop new applications while modernizing their existing application stack.

The Need to Modernize

The term application modernization flows easily off the tongue. It’s almost fun to talk about. After all, what IT leader wouldn’t want to be seen as a force of modernization?

Because of the conflict between its innate appeal and the complex reality, however, far too many modernization efforts devolve into mere window dressing. An organization creates a snazzy new front-end to an old application or makes some modest changes to a legacy application, and they call it modernization.

But these types of faux modernization efforts belie the real issue that sits just beneath the surface: today’s increasingly fragile legacy application stacks are becoming an existential threat to the enterprise.

Throughout the industrial age, organizations created competitive value by optimizing their operational core — how they produced, delivered, and supported products or services in the market.

Today, however, enterprises must derive competitive value through the creation of exceptional customer and employee experiences. To do so, they must be able to rapidly and continually adapt their business processes and systems. Unfortunately, organizations built their legacy applications for operational optimization — not around creating these types of exceptional experiences and the adaptability they require. Thus, the need to modernize.

These legacy applications, however, have also grown increasingly complex and fragile as organizations have steadily added layers upon layers of additional functionality over time — making the needed modernization more difficult and risky.

The result of this complexity and fragility has been inertia as organizations have opted for inaction rather than choose either of the only apparent options available to them: a high-risk internal modernization effort using their already strapped resources or a high-cost outsourced modernization project.

A Dearth of Options

Inaction in the face of the business case for modernization seems counterintuitive. But enterprise leaders are between the proverbial rock and a hard spot.

They’ve had to choose between two unpleasant alternatives.

The first option has been to launch major modernization efforts using their internal resources. This approach typically involved a significant amount of time selecting new operational platforms for the new application, extensive planning exercises, and the allocation of large numbers of both management and development resources to the effort.

The most significant impact of these types of efforts, however, was the unavailability of internal resources for any other projects. In many cases, the mission-critical nature of the application caused the organization to go into near lock-down mode as they executed the project — creating a backlog of other growth-related initiatives.

As a result, many organizations turned to outsourcing partners to offload the work of modernization. While this approach has the benefit of freeing internal resources to remain focused on future-facing and growth-related projects, it is often a costly proposition.

Even if the cost wasn’t an issue, however, the biggest challenge with these types of outsourced modernization efforts was their high failure rate. By definition, outsourced development teams are unfamiliar with the intricate, inner-workings of an organization. When combined with the business-critical nature of the applications most likely to have their modernization efforts outsourced, the result was often a continuous stream of project delays, cost overruns, and outright failure to deliver a working replacement application.

The Intellyx Take

While some enterprises have been successful using either or both of the traditional modernization options, most have not.

Instead of realizing the benefits of modernizing, many organizations that embarked on these efforts found them to be big, expensive distractions that generated limited business value — at least in the short-term.

The challenge, of course, is that the modernization of the legacy application stack is a foundational activity. The costs of not modernizing — and, likewise, the benefits of doing so — are not always immediately visible to the organization.

The high risks combined with this lack of immediate value recognition have led many IT leaders to put-off their modernization efforts and instead remain focused on meeting new organizational demand. This has been a winning strategy for many IT leaders — at least for now.

The failure to modernize, however, is a bit like a big bill coming due. Organizations must find a way to address it — or find themselves locked-in and unable to compete as their legacy applications hang like an albatross around their necks.

The good news for IT and business leaders is that there is a new wave of modernization approaches that may finally offer organizations something beyond these two options. Rooted in new approaches to application development, this ‘third way’ may offers organizations a way to modernize without the risks and trade-offs of the past. In the remainder of this blog post series, we will explore this new approach, its implications, and how it may help enterprises finally find their balance. Stay tuned.


Originally published by Charles Araujo in Intellyx BrainBlog

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. WaveMaker is an Intellyx client. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.