application-iconApplication Services

Application modernization: The 101

Author —Sony Thankachan6 mins read08 Jun 2024

For a business to thrive and differentiate itself in today’s competitive market, organizations must maximize the performances of the core enterprise applications. In this digital transformation era where everyone adopts new technologies, the relevance of application modernization is more significant than ever. However, various enterprises fail to understand the need for modern-day applications and keep running their business process on legacy systems. Compared to legacy systems, modern business applications are compelling, increase workforce productivity, and save costs. In the long run, application modernizations prove their superiority and effectiveness than legacy systems.

What is application modernization?

Application modernization is the practice of upgrading the platform infrastructure, internal architecture, languages, and features of older legacy systems. Also known as legacy software modernization, the procedure is equivalent to renovating homes to achieve more significant safety, efficiency, structural integrity, and more. Today, application modernization focuses on inflexible, on-premises applications that an organization upgrades and maintains using the waterfall model to a more robust and flexible cloud infrastructure and DevOps practices. While organizations find the cost and complexity of application modernization challenging, the process drives the company with enhanced efficiency, productivity, security, and speed to deliver new products and services.

Why modernize legacy enterprise applications

Before talking about how to pivot, let’s have a look at the benefits of application modernization.

Legacy enterprise applications often lack flexibility. These monolithic applications are difficult to update and hard to scale. The drawbacks of legacy applications increase the priority of an enterprise to modernize them.

Due to architectural reasons, organizations find updating legacy software challenging. Adding new features is daunting and has higher overhead costs & complexity, as all the components are shipped together. Due to similar reasons, businesses find scaling monolithic applications troublesome. If a single part faces performance issues or trouble in loading, the tech team must scale the entire application.

Modernizing the application solves these issues. With a cloud and microservices architecture, the components are smaller and loosely coupled, letting the tech team deploy and scale them independently. Modernization increases the deployment frequency and reliability while improving resilience and uptime.

Paths of the application modernization

The approach of legacy system modernization comes down to the cost and complexity of the process. Successful application modernization relies on the steps to forge maximum return on investments and customer experience. You can perform legacy application modernization in any of these approaches:

Rearchitect/refactor or rebuild

Rebuilding the legacy software implicates rewriting an application from scratch while they preserve the original scope and specifications. On the other hand, rearchitecting is when organizations alter the source code to access new application architecture with more capabilities and features. Refactoring the code is changing the structure and bringing improvements to the code without changing its external behavior.

Rearchitecturing applications are of moderate risks and costs while delivering astonishing results. Businesses usually follow this approach when they want to break monolithic applications into decoupled fragments using microservices or the organizations want to retool and use the application on a cloud platform.

Rip and replace

As the name indicates, the rip and replace do precisely the same. The tech team erases the original application entirely and replaces it with a new one that suits the needs of a business. However, taking business considerations into the picture, the risks and cost of total replacement of the legacy code are high.


Rehosting is when the tech team moves the application to another infrastructure without altering the original code or features. Also known as lift and shift, the organization lifts the application from a legacy environment to a new platform like the cloud. We can compare rehosting similar to raising a desk and shifting it to a new spot in the building. The lift and shift approach does not touch the source code and has minimal risks. That said, rehosting is not the optimal choice in all cases.


Replatforming falls in the middle ground of rehosting and refactoring. The approach makes minor changes to the source code or application features to migrate the code to a new platform. Replatforming includes complimentary updates that allow the legacy application to leverage the benefits of a modern cloud platform.

Critical technologies for application modernization

Organizations use a broad portfolio of technologies to drive application modernization. Here are them.

Cloud migration

Cloud computing is one of the key technologies of application modernization. People typically refer to migrating a legacy system to the cloud platform when discussing application modernization. While the public cloud is naturally an integral part of all modernization strategies, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud strategies reduce latency, increase speed, and boosts the overall application architecture. An enterprise might shy from migrating its data directly to the public cloud for numerous reasons. Here, other cloud strategies solve the architectural and policy complexity associated with the workload and data security.


Containerization of legacy systems is as vital as cloud migration for application modernization. Containers are a cloud-centric approach that packages, deploys, and operates an application and its workload. Containers suit the cloud architecture well, bringing the organization more significant stability, flexibility, portability, and efficiency. These containers help applications to be lightweight, flexible, and consistent to run across desktop, cloud, or on-premises environments. The flexibility of the containers makes them a perfect combination with the cloud infrastructure, particularly multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.


Microservice is both an application architecture and a way of writing code. By using microservices, the tech team breaks down the monolithic application into small and discrete components independent of each other. Organizations use these microservices to deploy, operate, and update independently while working together to accomplish tasks.

Orchestration and automation

Automation is a business imperative in today’s world. Organizations are looking up to automation to give a healthy lead in the fast-evolving market.

Container orchestration is a key technology enterprise use for application modernization. With container orchestration, a business automates various manual processes involving deploying, operating, and scaling containerized applications. Automation has other fascinating applications regarding working with organizations implementing DevOps and CI/CD for faster release cycles.


Application modernization is one way of taking your organization toward digital transformation. An enterprise must begin with small and measurable projects, which you can scale and optimize for other projects in your organization. Keen on learning more about how to modernize your legacy applications and achieve automation of processes? Let’s talk to take a step further in the journey.

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