Modernize your Business-critical Applications – Why & How?

We live in a world that is constantly disrupted by technology so much that it is now the rule rather than an exception. Businesses or organizations need to be agile enough to adapt at draconian speeds to the changing customer needs to gain momentum and a competitive edge. While agility has become a business necessity, it’s important to recognize the pressure it puts on enterprise applications or systems to cope with the technical requirements to drive business at speed.
Business-critical applications are the set of software that ensures your business continuity. If they go down, your business goes down! They are the ones that can break your processes and paralyze your everyday productivity if and when they fail. That could lead to short or long-term financial losses, loss of brand credibility, decreased productivity, and loss of customer and partner’s trust. In this blog post, we will try to understand the imperative of application modernization, how to do it, the challenges you might face in the process, and how to overcome them.

Why Application Modernization?

Application modernization is the process of repurposing, refactoring, or consolidating existing business applications for a better alignment with the business needs and demands of the market. An organization can think of modernizing its applications in two scenarios:
  • Enhancing Legacy Applications and Achieving Efficiency

The urgency to modernize business-critical applications is growing. A 2023 survey by Wakefield Research revealed that a staggering 92% of enterprises are actively working on at least one application modernization project. This push for modernization highlights the limitations of legacy systems in today’s digital landscape. These legacy applications hold business-critical data, like customer records or order history repositories that help perform critical functions such as determining mortgage eligibility or reminding of a critical healthcare service.

These business-critical applications are usually run on systems that are not scalable in line with the increased number of calls that come from the newer mobile applications, SaaS apps, IoT applications, and other systems. The reason is that the legacy systems do not support seamless data flow among different applications due to a lack of integration. Therefore, they are not well-suited to facilitating the implementation and adoption of modern technologies and hence need to be modernized.

Such legacy apps can be modernized by migrating them to a new and advanced cloud platform, upgrading their technology stack, improving application architecture, or just adding innovative features with cutting-edge technologies.

  • Preparing and Adapting to the Changing Business Needs

Contrary to legacy application modernization, newly built applications can also be considered modernization efforts, by visualizing the process through a more futuristic lens. As many organizations are taking the route to digital transformation, evolving their applications into next-gen and enhancing them to be customer-centric/business-centric has become inevitable.

That said, ensuring business continuity by modernizing business-critical applications (either legacy or newly built) should now be a more obvious focus than ever for enterprises across the globe to prepare and adapt to the changing times, given the rapid pace at which technology is growing. The advent of concepts like generative AI, edge computing, etc. presents a huge potential to transform business applications in unbelievable ways.

5 Best Ways to Modernize Your Applications

If organizations want to realize the full potential of digital transformation, legacy applications/systems must be modernized using innovative solutions. How do you approach modernizing your business-critical applications? Here are 5 best ways:
1. Leverage Cloud
Applications on physical servers limit the ability to scale. Migrating applications to the cloud and running the architecture on the cloud offers greater scalability, business continuity, and better security. By leveraging the cloud, organizations realize the benefits of cloud adoption such as lower-cost storage options, a better scope for automation, flexibility, and elastic infrastructure.  Application migration to the cloud can be done in six specific scenarios:
  • Rehosting: In the case of a simple rehosting where no specific change is required and no new functionality is added, moving to the cloud is just a “lift and shift” process – yet offering the benefits of cloud computing.
  • Replatforming: Many organizations proceed to application re-platforming – they make their applications more robust and dynamic in the modern digital environment. In this case, applications are not only moved to the cloud but a few changes are also made to the application to add new cloud functionalities.
  • Refactoring: The next approach is refactoring. In this case, organizations onboard a team of application modernization service providers with a team of developers to modify their existing applications to make them better suitable for the cloud environment.
  • Rearchitecting: When none of the above approaches seem efficient, the rearchitecting approach is used. Rearchitecting involves redesigning applications to fully leverage cloud-native infrastructure, such as microservices architecture or serverless computing. This approach optimizes performance, scalability, and cost-efficiency.
  • Rebuilding: In more complex cases, apps are rebuilt. Rebuilding entails rewriting applications to maximize cloud capabilities and address legacy architecture limitations. It eliminates technical debt, embraces modern development practices, and optimizes resource utilization for enhanced performance and scalability.
  • Replacing: When legacy applications no longer suffice, replacing them with cloud-native solutions or SaaS is also an option. While requiring initial investment, this approach enhances operational efficiency, mitigates security risks, and fosters innovation through cutting-edge cloud technologies.
2. Adopt APIs
Due to the complexity of legacy applications, it is quite challenging to integrate them with other systems or applications. To eliminate this bottleneck, IT teams need a way to modernize these legacy systems by extracting core data and services from the underlying system complexity. By leveraging APIs, the IT team can expose the data and functionality of legacy applications. APIs enable such applications to be reusable, updated, and modified effortlessly and efficiently leveraged to build new applications and services. Adding APIs to on-premises systems can connect them to other modern applications and preserve your existing investments. No application updates or customizations are required.
3. Utilize Microservices
Building new applications implementing microservices-based architecture is an approach many leading organizations are adopting today to modernize their existing application stack. Because of the modularity and scalability of microservices-based applications, they can easily integrate with existing applications, data sources, and business processes within the organization. Seamless integration helps drive successful digital transformation.
4. Embrace Containers
Containers offer a lightweight, portable solution for packaging applications and their dependencies. By encapsulating legacy applications within containers, organizations can modernize their deployment processes, enhance scalability, and streamline resource utilization. Containers enable consistent deployment across different environments, facilitating seamless integration with other systems and enabling efficient resource allocation in cloud or hybrid environments.
5. Implement Serverless Computing
Serverless computing abstracts away infrastructure management tasks, allowing developers to focus solely on code development. By leveraging serverless platforms, organizations can modernize their applications without worrying about provisioning or scaling servers. This approach offers cost-efficiency by charging only for actual usage and eliminates the need for ongoing maintenance tasks, enabling IT teams to allocate resources more efficiently and accelerate the pace of innovation.

Challenges of Modernizing Business-critical Applications

The modernization process can prove challenging for many reasons—employees may resist the change to their activities, and leadership may have questions regarding the costs accompanied by modernization. Some more such challenges include:

  • Knowledge and expertise deficiency: There is still a skill gap that organizations deal with while leveraging cloud platforms and cloud-native application development efficiently for modernizing business-critical applications.
  • Dismantling a monolith is not easy: It can be quite daunting to take stock of all the existing data. It requires determining which application to choose first by assessing various factors such as its data and business process dependencies, technology, business value, compatibility with the modernization approaches, etc.
  • Lack of a unified management approach: Continuously managing without an integrated, holistic approach that can intelligently map workloads, especially in hybrid IT environments is another common hurdle for application modernization. Some necessary activities you need to take up for efficiently managing modernization include – orchestrating processes, improving performance, and enabling automation to accelerate.
  • Cultural gap: Cloud-native thinking requires a new approach to application development and operations. A lot of organizations, especially SMBs, often find a huge gap between traditional work processes and agile IT processes, and that journey can see a lot of turbulence.

The Way Forward

Organizations are increasingly embracing modernization approaches to keep their offerings or services critical and relevant to their customers. But how can tech leaders overcome the common challenges of modernizing their organizations’ business-critical applications?

It doesn’t really matter if your organization is a large-scale or an SMB, and which industry it belongs to. Any organization must quickly adopt modern technologies to improve its application stack, thereby preparing and adapting for new challenges – or be ready to lose out to the competition. However, it’s exceedingly important to have a clear plan of action and a supportive infrastructure to ensure your business-critical applications are proactively monitored, improved, and maintained.

If you are ready to embark on your app modernization initiative or in the middle of it, KANINI can help you overcome the hurdles on your path and drive your journey to success. With a successful track record and deep industry expertise, we craft tailored solutions to make sure you get the best out of your modernization initiative. To know more about how we can help you, reach out to us today!


Srini Karunakaran
Srinivasan is a tech-savvy IT services delivery specialist with close to 25 years of demonstrated industry experience. Srinivasan is a strong operations person with extensive experience in Global IT Software development Services delivery, Business Relationship Management, and Operations Management. Srinivasan is highly skilled in strategic planning and has successfully implemented innovative engagement models that drive cost-effective IT services delivery.
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