In the fast-paced world of technology, having outdated software at your disposal can be detrimental to your business. Legacy applications slow down your business growth, worsen user experience, reduce mobility and availability, and take away your scalability. There are several ways of software modernization approaches depending on the application architecture, among other things.
In this article, we will discuss various options for migrating to the cloud, such as replatforming re-engineering, rehosting, and rearchitecting. Software replatforming drew our attention due to its simplicity compared to other options, but is it really simple? In this article, we will address the reasons for considering migration, the benefits and drawbacks of each option, and give you some helpful tips.
What is Replatforming?
Legacy application replatforming (also called “lift-tinker-and-shift”) deals with moving some parts of a system without major changes to allow the application to function in the cloud. As a result, the application gains in scalability and benefits of the cloud environment as well as provides a better user experience.
During replatforming, some code parts can be rewritten, or the way the app interacts with the database can be modified. The IT team does everything they can to ensure that the application suits the new cloud environment and benefits from cloud-based features.
Should You Replatform At All?
Unfortunately, there is no red light that goes off when your legacy system becomes outdated. It also does not happen in one day and usually starts in one part of the system and crawls its way into the entire app.
We have highlighted the five most vital signs for the necessity of legacy software replatforming that you should look out for at your company.
5 Signs You Need to Replatform Your Software
Failure to ensure security
The first sign of legacy software is its old age. Since these systems have been around for a while, they usually lack technical support from vendors that have developed them. Without ongoing maintenance and regular updates and bug fixes, old systems become vulnerable to security threats. Having your data exposed to cyber-attacks and security issues often leads to serious financial and legal repercussions.
Unfulfilled customer demand
Legacy applications do not receive the much-needed ongoing support for delivering new features, which leads to a decrease in user experience. Customers demand new capabilities and services, and without meeting their expectations, you are bound to lose to your competition. In the saturated market of various apps and technologies, users are accustomed to having a broad choice, and they easily make it after experiencing problems with an application.
High maintenance cost
Ever-increasing operating costs are another reason for immediate legacy system replatforming. First, outdated systems come with clunky and heavy code that tends to be cumbersome and heavy. Trying to understand and untangle it takes a lot of resources and requires stable ongoing technical support. Second, old code often causes issues with integration and development due to its incompatibility with new technologies, which makes the processes more expensive and lengthy.
Scalability is one of the cornerstones of every software modernization service. Archaic systems often fail to deliver the much-needed flexibility and scalability to your company. Whether you are experiencing rapid growth or are forced to shrink, you need your software capabilities to expand and decrease with you.
Lengthy time to market
Out-of-date applications require significantly more time to launch even a small new feature. Old technologies are absolutely inflexible and require rare talents who are still familiar with them. Modern approaches to software development like DevOps or agile are not very compatible with old systems, which puts you and your product years and even decades in the past.
Replatforming is a way to overcome these difficulties and take a step into the new world of technologies.
Alternatives of Legacy Application Replatforming and Their Benefits
Should you replatform, you will benefit from several advantages for your business and development team.
First, replatforming allows you to start small by tackling one area of the app at a time and scale up when needed. You get access to cloud-native functionalities without building a new solution from scratch using specialized coding expertise. On top of that, when you replatform in the cloud, you spend fewer resources than with other options like rearchitecting and reengineering, thus experiencing faster ROI.
Even though you can start small, replatforming tends to increase in scope leading to rearchitecting of the application. Additionally, the lengthy process of replatforming requires a high grade of automation to reduce human errors from the manual changes and copies. But what are the alternative options to replatform in the cloud?
Replatform vs. Rehost
Rehosting is the most popular way to modernize due to its simplicity and affordability. Rehosting refers to simply copying and pasting on-premises applications to the cloud without making major changes. Migrating an application “as-is” without any modifications allows you a fast-paced modernization process with minimum resources involved.
Rehosting provides a high speed of migration together with little to zero risk. This process can also be easily automated, allowing no downtime.
On the other hand, rehosting basically moves the application parts in the hope that it will work. Without leveraging the native advantages of the cloud, your application is bound to experience issues or at least not fully benefit from the migration. On top of that, the rehosting process is long and mundane and requires expensive activities when over.
Reengineering or Replatform
Should you go for reengineering or replatform your application? Software reengineering involves close investigation of application code and functionalities, aiming to identify redundant and unused parts.
You begin with digging into the historic data about the application design, requirements, and specifications. Later, an IT team may improve the structure and code if they find it feasible. Reengineering does not deal with major changes like the microservice approach of rearchitect, replatform, rehost models. On the contrary, the reengineering approach takes care of small changes like code restructuring, removing unnecessary parts, and code modulation.
Among the advantages of software reengineering are better user experience and easier maintenance. Small incremental changes will increase the app’s productivity and performance and reduce the risks associated with deeper and more disruptive modernization scenarios.
Despite many benefits, reengineering is a long process that requires thorough planning and a wide range of skills.
Replatform or Rearchitect
Rearchitecting is also about migrating to the cloud, however, not blindly. This approach involves changing the app’s architecture to suit the cloud environment and unlock cloud features. Rearchitecting is the most in-depth one and requires more resources and expertise.
In the end, rearchitecting is highly feasible and delivers the best ROI and long-term cost savings. As it involves profound refactoring the parts of the software with redesigning processes, this approach is also more adaptable to changing requirements.
On the other hand, due to its time consumption, you will be forced to extend your in-house team or hire a long-term vendor, making you vendor-dependent. Rearchitecting is also a highly complex process that requires a large variety of skills.
Service-oriented architecture is considered as the most effective way to rearchitect legacy software. Learn all the ins and outs. Migrating a Legacy Application to a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) Guide
All in all, replatform is the middle ground between the depthless approach of rehosting and reengineering as well as a groundbreaking and overly complex rearchitecting approach. It is far less invasive than rearchitecting; however, it still brings great results and allows you to take full advantage of cloud functionalities. Replatforming provides the optimal balance between invested resources and the outcome.
5 Tips to Successful of Legacy System Replatforming
How do you minimize the risks of legacy modernization replatform and make sure that the process goes well?
#1 Assess your cloud and business strategies
First, focus on your business goals and strategies for hitting them. Which features do you need to add or remove to get there? Which functionalities are hindering your growth? Prepare an explicit list of everything that should be modified before you begin to replatform a legacy application.
Further, consider the choice of service vendor. Cloud providers offer various packages with different support levels depending on the scope of work and the application itself. Familiarize yourself with different cloud vendors to make an informed and data-driven decision.
#2 Set goals and performance standards
Set attainable goals that are backed up by relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). These standards give you a way to measure the success of the migration and make possible adjustments on the go. The KPIs might involve anything from a number of new users to page load duration; the critical part is pinning down the measurement that makes the most sense for your business.
#3 Avoid over-engineering
With the lack of planning and concrete goals, you might end up going off track and complicate the processes. This is why, when you replatform in the cloud, go for the basic platform and extend it with integrations and apps when needed. Much like with other modernization techniques, do not try to bite off more than you can handle. Focus on the established goals and milestones and do not move on to the next part until the previous step is over. This is where agile methodology can support you and make the transition from a legacy platform to a new one simpler and smoother.
#4 Keep track of your budget
Budgeting is a separate item on the to-do list that should not be underestimated and better be left to professionals. There are several approaches to the budget assessments that take into account different factors, but in the end, you should have a realistic estimate. Do not forget to incorporate extra for possible roadblocks and delays that tend to occur during a lengthy project. Finally, get a budgeting tool to keep track of the progress and make sure you stay within the budget.
#5 Prioritize the most valuable parts
Consider adopting an application strangulation technique that involves replacing a small percentage of old infrastructure with new pieces without disrupting its functionality. This model forces you to stay in small increments and always prioritize before making any changes.
Consider ModLogix as Your Trusted Legacy System Modernization Provider: Our Experience
ModLogix is a software development company that has assisted many companies in legacy software modernization. We know first hand about the process of migration, the difference between replatform vs. upgrade, rearchitecting vs. rehosting, etc. Our expertise will help you get through this challenging task and make your application better.
Our case study
Our client is an IT and financial services provider in the healthcare industry. The software that our client used to employ was in urgent need of modernization. The system includes a database with health records as well as a tool for adding new volunteers. Since our client has been experiencing platform limitations and a lack of continuity, they decided to move the system from on-premises to Azure.
After familiarizing ourselves with the project and the client’s goals, the decision to replatform the legacy software was made. In this case, replatforming was an optimal way to reduce risk and complexity while maximizing cloud benefits. Besides that, we fixed some migration inconsistencies. For example, the MS SQL database was not compatible with Azure SQL, so we upgraded it. We also rewrote some parts of the application, including the report building module, to improve the performance.
As a result, the deployment of the report building feature has occurred 200 times faster than before the migration.
MS Azure, .NET Framework, WebForms, C#, Microsoft SQL Server, T-SQL
Read the full case study showing up other issues we faced during the migration and how we resolved them.
Replatforming is a strategy that is becoming more and more relevant. The modern technological era has allowed us to modernize even outdated applications and make them competitive on the market. By postponing legacy upgrading, you are putting your application at risk of becoming obsolete and unusable. If you are ready to take this step, contact ModLogix — a software vendor that will accompany you at every stage of the process. We are also happy to answer any of your remaining questions concerning the migration to the cloud.