You may not need to ‘break up with your monolith’ just yet…

Modernising legacy (and even not-so legacy) applications is an increasingly hot topic. More and more businesses are gravitating towards Application Modernisation and Legacy Modernisation as a possible solution to improving their systems, as opposed to full replacement with a ready-made solution such as COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) or SaaS.

At Version 1, when we discuss Application Modernisation, we are referring to much more than a simple ‘upgrade’ or a lift-and-shift style migration to Public Cloud. Modernising legacy software is about more than this. It’s about bringing your organisation up to speed with the demands of the digital world we live in and building a platform for future innovation.

Why are the tides changing in favour of modernising existing IT investments? There are many answers to this question, but many businesses have learned (many through trial and error) that:

  1. Legacy monoliths aren’t as useless as the COTS advertisements telling you to ‘break up with your monolith’ may urge you to believe. In fact, applications that have been heavily used by organisations over a number of years retain a huge amount of valuable data that can be reutilised/exploited if connected to the right modernisation solutions
  2. The amount of time it takes to retire legacy applications and move many users/customers over to a new product to achieve a more modern, agile and fast solution can ironically be a painstakingly long process once you have moved over all the required data and carried out the necessary customisations. Meanwhile, it’s quite common for organisations to run two parallel applications at the same time when undergoing a modernisation activity
  3. Small incremental improvements can be applied to modernise aspects of a legacy system now that weren’t achievable 10 years ago, largely due to the vast amount of very accessible innovation and tools on the market from Public Cloud vendors such as AWS, Microsoft and Oracle

Staying the same for the ‘time being’ can be seen as the safe option when dealing with legacy software, but the reality is that inertia towards modernising and improving IT can prevent organisations as a whole from maintaining organisational efficiency and agility, not to mention the potential security risks. It may seem like the decision to modernise software is an IT decision alone, but it’s actually a strategic business decision.

Application modernisation is not one ‘thing. If you’re faced with a legacy challenge, the best approach depends on the problem you’re trying to solve. Replacement isn’t the only option. The key is to understand if your problem is caused by technology, architecture or functionality of the application, and how each modernisation approach improves those aspects.” Stefan van der Zijden, Research Director at Gartner

As Stefan stated above – the best approach to modernisation depends on the problem you are trying to solve. Let’s look at the business benefits your business can achieve through modernisation of existing IT systems in two major categories we see our customers challenged with: Driving Operational Improvements and Gaining a Competitive Edge.

Driving Operational Improvements

Improve Performance, Stability and Reliability

Do you regularly have outages or performance problems? Are you happy with your current performance? Have your customers complained about a particular service or functionality going up and down? You don’t need to start from scratch to achieve a better functioning system. A modernised system with the use of high availability features such as multi-region, load balancers, autoscaling and containerised applications can drive better performance, more reliable processes and reduced the risk of unplanned downtime and unsatisfied customers and stakeholders.

Keep Systems Secure from External Threats (and Internal Breaches)

Legacy technology stacks are fertile ground for increasingly sophisticated attacks. Penalties for breaches of personal data can be business-ending. While the core functionality may not need to change, the underpinning technology must be secure. Companies that experience serious data breaches can suffer financial losses in the millions, in addition to lost business, reputational damage and waste of resources for employee time spent on recovering the situation. Many vulnerabilities can be eliminated by updating legacy systems and security protocols for legacy systems. Our advice is to take action today on any security-related improvements possible, don’t wait until a breach happens to find out where your vulnerabilities lie.

Introduce Simpler Integration with New Software

Are you struggling to see how your system could become compatible with other platforms or applications such as accounting software, or mobile applications? Does your system play nicely with other platforms? Compatible systems can be a key step for our customers in terms of modernising their data estates. Utilising Application Modernisation techniques, you can introduce simpler integration with a wide variety of new software, from accounting software to CRMS and mobile applications.

Reduce Inefficiencies and Eliminate Waste

The true cost of legacy software to your business is often overlooked, as we discussed in our recent infographic. According to Gartner, over 72% of IT budgets are put aside just to “keep the lights on.” It is possible to improve your bottom line by addressing the financial inefficiencies of legacy software. A great place to start is by asking yourself, “is there a lot of repetitive work we do that could be automated?” Time is money, and if your skilled employees are wasting time on tasks that can be automated, this could be a relatively ‘quick win’ for the business, allowing resources to work on much higher-value activities.

Take Advantage of Support

Some legacy applications and platforms will have support contracts that have expired. These applications are therefore not able to get the latest features, bug fixes or security updates. When modernising applications, your organisation can take advantage of a vendor or platform’s support period and get all of the above as well as access to vendor and platform support teams.

Gaining a Competitive Edge

Leverage Cloud Technologies

While large organisations have successfully implemented specific software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions or adopted a Cloud-First strategy for new systems, many are struggling to get the full value of moving to the Cloud. This is largely due to a misconception that migrating existing or legacy applications to the Cloud ‘as-is’ will automatically solve problems, but migration without a certain degree of modernisation (whether it is minor optimisation or a major Digital Transformation) often fails to meet current and evolving business requirements, as the capabilities were based on past needs. In fact, in some cases, that approach can result in IT architectures that are more complex, cumbersome, and costly than before. Lifting and shifting legacy applications will not automatically yield the benefits that Cloud Infrastructure and systems can provide. If you are seeking to leverage modern Cloud capabilities i.e progressive delivery, auto-scaling, satellite capability, etc, then modernisation in a containerised fashion can enable you to harness Cloud technologies for specific areas of the application, or for specific measured objectives.

Meet the Expectations of Your Users with Improved UX

Modern users expect modern interfaces which operate on modern devices. In all industries, end-users are increasingly mobile and diverse. Accessibility has become a hard requirement (especially in for Government bodies). There are modernisation techniques possible from light-touch UX ‘makeovers’ to greater Digital Transformations depending on the value that improved UX will deliver to your organisations’ unique needs. UX has been a big modernisation driver for our customers, particularly those with a system used heavily by internal stakeholders using it many times a day, or portals where citizens may be coming in droves to fill out applications. Reducing the steps required to complete a task or minimising the number of confused customers phoning into a support line can demonstrate very positive savings on time and resources for the business.

Reduce Friction and Increase Agility

Are you prepared for future change? If something major happened in your industry tomorrow, would your business be able to react quickly? Is there a high level of friction in your business when it comes to IT infrastructure? Technology should never get in the way of business productivity or agility. It should support the business, not hinder it! Any time your legacy applications cause friction, this should be a call-to-action to find out what’s causing the problem. For example, if it takes business managers hours, days or even weeks to collate data and deliver reports to management to help with business planning,– the business case for modernisation is there to reduce costs and save time by delivering better reporting and data analytics to drive timely data-driven decision-making.

Make Your Applications Work in the Way You Need Them To

Don’t let your business applications become a barrier to your business objectives, innovation, agility and growth. Version 1 can help you to modernise your applications and legacy software to work in the way you need them to in order to maintain your competitive edge. That could involve integrating them with other key systems, making them available across web and mobile devices, extending functionality, or migrating your application(s) to the Public Cloud. There has never been a better time to easily leverage game-changing technologies, including Cloud, Mobility and Virtualisation in order to harness the full potential of your applications and simplify your IT environment.  We encourage our customers every day to exploit modern technologies and innovation to harness the full potential of their business applications and to align IT improvements to the tangible business value they will deliver.

About Version 1

Modernise, innovate and accelerate your business transformation with Version 1. For customers seeking a true partner who will make a real difference to their businesses with IT. Version 1 offers the specialist knowledge, experience and expertise to make it happen. Version 1’s approach to Application Modernisation enables you to ensure that the capabilities of your applications are in sync with both your current and future business requirements. With unique IP and established methodologies, we can help modernise your applications, making them more agile and responsive to industry needs, while protecting your existing investments.