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What is Application Modernization?

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The world is undergoing significant digitization today. Almost every business, irrespective of its industry, is digitizing its entire business model by shifting it to apps. Multiple sectors are undergoing digital transformation to efficiently handle their businesses and make themselves more accessible to their clients. According to Statista, global spending on digital transformation will reach USD 2.3 Trillion by 2023.

Cloud Computing plays a considerable role in the digital business transformation happening at such a large scale, especially in the pandemic-hit 2020. It has provided people with cost-effective solutions to manage everything electronically without worrying about the basic infrastructure of their applications and the responsibilities that come with it. According to a research, the cloud computing market has grown up to USD 371.4 Billion in 2020 and is expected to grow up to USD 832.1 Billion by 2025.

The statistics show how people are rapidly moving towards modern business solutions with cloud computing. However, there are still many businesses out there working on legacy systems and facing many problems with their functioning and maintenance. Hence, organizations are also looking for ways to modernize their existing applications and software to meet today’s high-tech standards. This is where Application Modernization steps in.

In 2020, the app modernization market’s value is estimated to be USD 11.4 Billion and is expected to grow up to USD 24.8 Billion by 2025. But what exactly is app modernization? Why is it so important and why are people opting for it in such high numbers?

In this article, we will discuss app modernization thoroughly by answering the following questions:

Let’s begin by learning the meaning of application modernization.

What is Application Modernization?

The process of modernizing existing legacy applications is known as application modernization. A legacy application is any outdated application. It still works but is incompatible with the current operating systems, information technology infrastructures and browsers. Application modernization involves modernizing:

  • the internal architecture of applications
  • the app’s platform infrastructure
  • the app’s existing features

App modernization mainly deals with shifting on-premises applications to a cloud architecture. It also works on bringing legacy applications into release patterns like microservices DevOps. The old applications can be re-hosted and new features can be added to them. It is essential to choose the right strategies and approaches to modernize outdated applications. Successful application modernization is only possible when the features planned to add to the application are suitable for it.

App modernization offers several benefits, which make it all the more important to modernize applications. Let’s take a look at them.

Why is Application Modernization Important?

Legacy app modernization is vital because they are complicated to update and expensive to scale. Also known as monolithic applications, their architecture makes it difficult to add any new features while adding complexities in the scaling process. The components are not independent of each other, hence to scale a single component, the entire app needs to be scaled. This approach demands the investment of a lot of added costs and unnecessary efforts.

Benefits of application modernization

Along with allowing developers to scale and deploy the app’s components independently, application modernization offers many benefits that make it even more important to perform:

  • Cost-Effective
  • Business Agility and Increased Staff Productivity
  • Enhanced Customer Experience
  • New Revenue Streams
  • Better Security
  • Meeting Compliances
  • Meeting Compliances
  • Automation

Let’s discuss them in detail.


Maintaining legacy applications is not easy. Along with additional efforts and labor, a lot of money is also invested regularly in order to maintain the applications. The on-site data centers, regular IT maintenance, usage of old systems and capital expenditures on licensing lead to many added expenses for an organization.

Application modernization helps organizations by reducing operational costs required to update applications. App modernization requires monolithic apps to shift to a cloud infrastructure, eliminating the requirement of on-site data centers. Everything is stored and maintained on the cloud. Hence the added IT maintenance expenses and licensing costs are also cut down.

Business Agility and Increased Staff Productivity

Legacy systems and monolithic applications have a vast set of disadvantages that slow down business operations and cause employees to spend most of their time dealing with those issues. Organizations tend to lose many clients due to the lack of agility and productivity, which root back to incompetent systems most of the time.

Business agility is an expected outcome when the system is upgraded. Employees perform better with a modern application that is more consistent and reliable. Modernized cloud-based applications take the employees’ minds off the maintenance issues and facilitate remote working capabilities. Hence, more productivity and business agility are achieved.

Enhanced Customer Experience

Good customer experience is a critical factor in determining every business’ success. However, providing a good customer experience while maintaining an old legacy system is very difficult.

By shifting your applications to a cloud infrastructure, the burden of maintaining old applications and guiding clients through them is lifted off. Businesses can quickly retrieve any records and data they require. Customers can also easily navigate their way around modern applications. Hence, customer relationships and support are also improved along with their experience.

New Revenue Streams

Often, businesses aren’t able to provide new functionalities and services to their clients as their systems aren’t flexible. However, app modernization may allow you to create new services that provide value to your clients due to the system’s flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Hence, new revenue streams can be generated by application modernization.

Better Security

Cybersecurity is a very prevalent concern today, especially with outdated systems. The importance of systems with high-security measures is increasing day by day. However, with legacy applications, cybersecurity concerns grow as the implemented security measures need continuous monitoring and repeated updates.

With application modernization, you can:

  • use the newest libraries and strategies to tighten security.
  • seamlessly integrate security measures.
  • avail complete advantage of cloud-based security.
  • minimize cybersecurity threats.
  • avoid continuous monitoring.
  • save time as regular updates to security features are automatically done.

Hence, application modernization offers much better security as compared to legacy applications.

Meeting Compliances

There are several compliances which every business has to follow, depending on the industry they work in. Not meeting compliances properly can cost a company massive amounts of money. However, with legacy systems, it is very tough and time consuming to ensure compliances are met as everything has to be done manually.

App modernization can ease the process of meeting compliances as the processes are automated and regular updates ensure that all compliances are seamlessly met. In case of any breaches, it is easier to deal with them if the system is modernized and not monolithic.


Application modernization usually facilitates automation. Seamless integrations, APIs, meeting compliances, enhanced customer experiences, saving costs, etc., is all possible because of automated procedures. Automation is very costly and tough to achieve in legacy systems.

Now that you understand the benefits of application modernization, let’s look at various approaches that can be adopted to achieve it.

What are the various approaches to Application Modernization?

Multiple approaches can be adopted for the process of application modernization, such as:

  1. The lift and shift approach
  2. Refactoring
  3. The strangler pattern
  4. Replatforming
  5. API integration

Let’s discuss them in detail.

The Lift and Shift Approach

Moving an existing legacy application to a new infrastructure like a public cloud platform is known as the “Lift and Shift” approach. It is also known as “Rehosting,” as the application is being moved to a new infrastructure without any changes to its underlying code or architecture. The approach is not very intensive. However, the suitability of this approach depends on the application being rehosted.


Refactoring, also known as “Rewriting” or “Restructuring,” is the approach that retools significant parts of the monolithic application’s underlying code. It involves considerable restructuring and rewriting of the existing codebase. The approach is adopted to ensure that the application runs better in a new environment, preferably a cloud infrastructure.

Developers choose this approach if they want to break up the legacy application into smaller pieces, commonly known as microservices. Microservices are used to maximize the cloud infrastructure’s benefits. However, microservices may not be fully independent from the perspective of end-to-end delivery. Developers may also use this approach by decoupling modernization paths for individual macroservices and then enable the strangler pattern.

The Strangler Pattern

The strangler pattern is an approach used to transform a legacy application into microservices incrementally by replacing a specific functionality with a new service.


The replatforming approach acts as the middle ground between the “Lift and Shift” approach and the “Refactoring” approach. Without requiring any significant code changes, the replatforming approach involves complementary updates to allow the monolithic application to benefit from the modern cloud platform. The “complementary updates” may consist of replacing or modifying the app’s backend database.

API Integration

API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs are used for applications that are difficult to move to the cloud infrastructure. New applications can be enabled to access the cloud infrastructure by externalizing them with APIs. Based on integration, this approach involves having an OpenAPIspecified REST interface so that the interface can be discovered and managed. By implementing the API integration approach in the early stages of the application modernization lifecycle, a lot of time, effort and money can be saved, which would have otherwise been invested in the migration of the application to a cloud infrastructure.

Now that you know about the different approaches to app modernization, let’s look at some of the key technologies required for the application modernization process.

What are some of the key technologies for application modernization?

Some key technologies required for application modernization are:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Kubernetes
  • Containers

Let’s discuss them in detail.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the fundamental technology used for application modernization, as the process mainly refers to the shift of a monolithic application to a modern cloud environment. It involves:

  • public clouds
  • private clouds
  • hybrid clouds

Even though the public cloud is an essential part of any modernization strategy, private and hybrid /multicloud strategies are also crucial for security, latency and architectural reasons. If an organization is not ready to move to a public cloud, the other cloud models can help solve the issues and meet the organization’s requirements.


Containers are used to package, deploy and operate applications in a cloud-centric way. Containerization allows an app to be packaged consistently and in a lightweight manner to run across desktop, cloud or on-premises environments steadily. It offers multiple benefits, such as:

  • scalability
  • portability
  • operational efficiency


Also known as “kube” or “k8s”, kubernetes is an open-source platform for container orchestration. It automates deployment, management and scaling of applications.

Containers and Kubernetes have come up as key enablers for hybrid cloud and application modernization strategies.

Now, let’s see how you can ensure successful application modernization.

How can you ensure successful application modernization?

Successful app modernization can be ensured by taking the following steps:

  1. Figure out your end goals and KPIs
  2. Thorough Analysis
  3. Choose a fitting modernization approach
  4. Embrace new technologies
  5. Address technical debt
  6. Strengthen the test automation
  7. Hire the right team

Let’s discuss them in detail.

Figure Out your End Goals and KPIs

In order to successfully modernize applications, you need to know what you are expecting out of the process. Hence, you must first figure out your end goals and KPIs. KPIs stand for key performance indicators. While your end goals define why you want to modernize your apps, the KPIs act as a checklist that helps you ensure that modernization enables you to achieve your goals.

For example, if your end goal is to provide enhanced customer experiences, then your KPIs would include application error rates, application response time, uptime, etc.

Thorough Analysis

You should thoroughly know and analyze your legacy systems and their interdependencies before you modernize them so that you don’t lose any critical data in the process. You must know how your application performs presently so that you can plan out how to modernize and make data-driven decisions accordingly.

A thorough analysis will help you to systematically approach application modernization without wasting any time and resources. It will also help you to identify loopholes you didn’t know and prioritize approaches according to your requirements. It would help if you thoroughly analyzed the following:

  • application infrastructure
  • application quality and performance
  • the impact of your application’s performance on your business.

Choose a Fitting Modernization Approach

You should thoroughly know and analyze your legacy systems and their interdependencies before you modernize them so that you don’t lose any critical data in the process. You must know how your application performs presently so that you can plan out how to modernize and make data-driven decisions accordingly.

A thorough analysis will help you to systematically approach application modernization without wasting any time and resources. It will also help you to identify loopholes you didn’t know and prioritize approaches according to your requirements. It would help if you thoroughly analyzed the following:

Embrace New Technologies

Application modernization gives you the opportunity to embrace new technologies while improving the application’s infrastructure. You can build frameworks that support artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), internet of things (IoT), speech recognition systems, etc.

Address Technical Debt

In simple terms, technical debt is the implied cost of additional rework that has to be undertaken because you chose the easier and less time-consuming option instead of the ideal approach, which might have taken a little longer. The need to have applications immediately usually makes people deploy software that isn’t ideal.

While proceeding with app modernization, it is important that you address the existing technical debt and don’t carry it forward.

Strengthen Test Automation

Ensuring high-level test automation helps to baseline the current functionalities. It also assists in regression testing required after modernization and reduces the risk due to changes to a minimum. Also, the testing effort is significantly reduced.

Hire the Right Team

App modernization is a complicated process that requires precision and expertise. Hence, you must hire an experienced team to take over the process. Even a tiny mistake can cost you a lot of money if the process is not done correctly. Hence, always ensure that you hire the right software development team to help you with application modernization.


Application modernization is a complicated yet necessary step required to help you optimize your business. Considering all the benefits that application modernization offers, you must modernize your monolithic application as soon as possible.

If you are looking for a software development company to modernize your legacy application, contact our experts.

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Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar
Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO at LeewayHertz. The experience of building over 100+ platforms for startups and enterprises allows Akash to rapidly architect and design solutions that are scalable and beautiful.
Akash's ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s. Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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