July 30, 2018

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.