the meaning of application modernization

Digital transformation. It’s the buzzword that’s on the mind of every technology professional as companies across all industries look to modernize their tech habits, because in this increasingly digitized world, every company is a tech company.

Cloud, mobile, and big data technologies are already forcing organizations across every vertical to adapt, and that’s just the beginning. Emerging technologies in the form of AI, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain are further causing disruption.

With more than 80% of enterprises still in the early stages of digital innovation, the time is now to tap into this accelerated change of pace. Old infrastructure and the traditional ways of building apps are becoming growth inhibitors for enterprises and small and mid-sized businesses.

Companies need rapid innovation to rollout new business models, optimize business processes, and respond to new regulations. And business leaders and employees are demanding this agility - everyone wants to be able to connect to their Line of Business (LOB) systems through mobile devices or remotely in a secure and efficient manner, no matter how old or new these systems are.

Enter application modernization.

What is Application Modernization

Legacy application modernization is a project designed to create new business value from existing, aging applications by updating them with modern features and capabilities. By migrating your legacy applications, you can include the latest functionalities that better align with what your business needs to succeed.

Keeping legacy applications running smoothly while still being able to meet current day needs can be a time consuming and resource intensive affair. That is doubly the case when software becomes so outdated that it may not even be compatible with modern day systems.

Legacy Modernization Strategies

Legacy modernization strategies can include the re-platforming, re-hosting, re-coding, re-factoring, re-architecting, re-building, or the replacement and retirement of your legacy systems.

Applications dating back decades may not be optimized for mobile experiences on smartphones or tablets, which could require entire re-platforming.

This isn’t to say that application modernization is about completely reprogramming from scratch.

Instead, it’s about taking the bones, or DNA, of the original software, and modernizing it to better represent current business needs. This can be invasive and involve heavy re-coding, or non-invasive by linking the app via a modern cloud service or web-based front end.

An example of invasive modernization comes in the form of rewriting existing application code written in COBOL - the first popular programming language designed to be OS agnostic dating back to the 1950s that is still used by many financial and business applications - to more modern and friendly programming languages like Java and C#.

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Why You Should Modernize Legacy Systems

There are numerous pain points around current applications that could use modernization, mainly: legacy applications, aging infrastructure, and lack of agility.

Legacy Applications

There are thousands of Line of Business systems designed for budgeting, order processing, invoices, approvals, and so on that are vital to how an enterprise functions. The reality is that these business functions can be overly complicated.

Multiple systems may serve somewhat similar functions that require an employee to jump from system to system to get work done. These varying degrees of functionality can hamstring productivity, preventing businesses from reacting in a timely manner to disruptive situations.

Aging Infrastructure

In some cases, legacy infrastructure can be decades and decades old. IBM, for instance, still produces its IBM System Z mainframes that stretches back nearly half a century. It may not be easy or practical to replace a system that has been a core function of your business for that amount of time.

A company’s infrastructure may also be quite diverse, with some processes running on mainframes, custom-built apps, or on an ISV solution customized exactly for that organization. Apps could also be hosted in the cloud or on-premises, making this diverse array of systems more challenging to innovate on or maintain with the speed necessary.

Lack of Agility

With legacy applications and aging infrastructure comes a lack of agility in an organization. Employees spend about 28% of their time on administrative tasks like copying data from one system to another, conducting approvals across multiple systems, and spending time hunting down data hiding somewhere in one of these systems.

On top of slowing down employees, many CIOs report that 70 to 80% of their IT budgets are tied into running current processes or maintenance, leaving very little wiggle room for innovation. These legacy applications and aging infrastructures can be a drain on company resources that can be alleviated by application modernization.

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Why Do Enterprises Need Application Modernization

Let’s take this one step further - why do enterprises specifically need application modernization?

  • Cost Avoidance: You can eliminate a costly capital expense in favor of a manageable and scalable operating expense.
  • Staff Productivity: From fewer application incidents, improved team utilization, and new features and functionality, modernized applications are built to help your employees.
  • Customer Experience: Similar to your employees, modernized apps are ultimately built to improve the customer experience by enabling new services and processes with a more user-friendly interface.

Build a New Revenue Stream: An updated system allows your business to create new services and processes that add value to the customer and create new revenue streams.

Embarking on the Application Modernization Journey

With this agility mentality in mind, the concept of containers emerged as a way to manage modern applications by packaging and isolating applications with all the files necessary for them to run. This allows for the contained applications to be moved between environments while still maintaining complete functionality.

application modernization
(Source: Red Hat)

Legacy Modernization Trends

The number one trend around application modernization is that concept of containers.

Containers take all of the tools, technologies, and code required to run an application to create a single, portable package. Since containers are isolated OS processes that can run anything, they enable flexibility and choice for businesses that may have previously been tied to a single operation.

To manage these containers, cloud-native platforms such as Kubernetes can be used to manage containerized workloads and services. Since Kubernetes is container-centric, it does not matter whether a container is running a Java process, .NET, elixir, or any current or future programming language or framework.


The journey through the modernization of applications allows for businesses to take advantage of these technologies and the Architech team is well-equipped to guide you no matter what stage you are in the process. Architech is a Microsoft Gold Partner and just one of the two companies in Canada focusing on Kubernetes on Azure.

Our team provides consulting and engineering to accelerate your adoption of Kubernetes to speed up your product development, and is available for training in support, starting with our Kubernetes on Azure Bootcamp.

To get started on your application modernization journey, contact us online to learn how we can accelerate your business processes. You can also download our white paper: The Guide to Application Modernization with Kubernetes.

Read Our Whitepaper On Application Modernization with Kubernetes.

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