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There are several paths you can take to modernize your applications – often, rearchitecting is the only road that will get you to where your business needs to be while setting your enterprise on a path to success.

It’s one of four options you have when you need to move legacy systems to the cloud, along with rehosting – aka the “lift and shift,” as well as refactoring or rebuilding. With the first two, your existing application is moved mostly “as is” to the cloud – it’s quick, but you don’t get all the benefits that come from running applications in a cloud-native environment.  

Rebuilding is as hefty an investment as it sounds, but you’ll get the most benefits from the cloud for your business – because your application is cloud-native, it can scale in a modern, dynamic environment. This path exploits container technology, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure and declarative Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

When you rebuild or rearchitect with these technologies and combine them with automation, you end up with decoupled systems that are resilient, manageable, and observable – IT staff can make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal toil.

Rearchitecting, like rebuilding, is a sweeping change, and requires some upfront investment – but it pays off, which is why it’s ultimately the optimum route for your application modernization. When you rearchitect an application, you’re entirely revamping it to align with a modern microservices architecture. This transformation may include the following tactics:

  • Retiring old technologies and adopting new ones
  • Rehosting data from an on-premises server to a cloud server
  • Replacing proprietary plugins and tools with industry-standard and open-source ones
  • Adopting a DevSecOps mindset so that security is baked into the rearchitecting of any applications you are migrating

So how do you know if rearchitecting is worth the journey? Here are five reasons why it might be the best way to get your business where it needs to be.

What are the advantages of rearchitecting?

Reason #1: Lower Cost of Ownership

Yes, rearchitecting takes more blood, sweat and tears, not to mention more time and money than rehosting or refactoring, but the final product will make your life a lot easier.  

Reducing the hefty cost of traditional IT infrastructure should galvanize you to rearchitect an application for a cloud environment. Large applications cost far too much when running on legacy hardware-based infrastructure. You’d be hard-pressed to scale in response to business demands without the elasticity of the cloud. A virtual machine (VM) in the cloud costs much less than a physical server – even a VM run on-premises. Look no further for proof than the wild success of Azure Storage or Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 running VMware.

Containers take cost efficiencies a step further by enabling you to use the standards for a container runtime in Docker, a container orchestration tool in Kubernetes, and tools for monitoring and networking – Prometheus and Istio, among others.

Either way, serverless computing excels at running workloads on a pay-per-use basis where IT has no infrastructure to maintain. Developers can run their code on a ready-made cloud platform – it’s an extremely attractive model when you look at the cost advantages.

If those cost savings haven’t sold you yet, consider these other benefits of going cloud-native:

  • It eliminates the time and costs involved to maintain old infrastructure, including private hardware
  • It dramatically reduces data center costs
  • It eliminates proprietary software licenses

You just can’t beat taking the cloud-native path if you want  a lower total cost of ownership.

Reason #2: Cloud-Enabled Agility

Traditional IT bogs everyone down with configuring servers, databases, and networking while trying to keep on top of security. Developers, meanwhile, are checking their watches as they wait for environments to be spun up. Manual steps and onerous sign-off processes slow down releases – it takes more time to ensure deployed applications will be reliable and secure. Any feedback or bug fixes often take days, weeks, or even months to be implemented – way too long in today’s real-time world.

Cloud-native applications trump monolith applications because they’re made up of small, independently built, tested, and managed microservices. These small code packages are inherently easier and safer to manage than a single, massive body of code. A microservices architecture reduces risk and improves developer confidence when introducing change, dramatically improving productivity.

A few other benefits include the following:

  • Streamlined release cycles – less code is affected by a given change
  • Interdependencies are more easily managed through clean service interfaces
  • Each microservice can be promoted to a production environment as soon as it’s ready rather than waiting for all others in a traditional “big bang” release.

These benefits are incremental and cumulative. As developers become more productive and cloud instances become easier to manage, they become more agile through DevSecOps processes – continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) that includes incremental development, testing and deployment, and aggressive automation allows for releasing value faster than ever before. You may find yourself releasing production code daily or even several times per day.

This agility afforded by the cloud drives innovation through experimentation to improve customer experience. A secure, scalable cloud-native application makes it possible and easy, whether it’s A/B testing of new features or canary releases of new versions.

Reason #3: Application Resilience

Monolithic applications are notorious when dealing with failures and issues – any issue in any part of the application sets off a domino effect that takes down the entire app.

With microservices, you can embed fault tolerance into each one, so even if a single server fails, everything around can still operate. User experience may still be affected. Still, at least the entire application isn’t rendered unusable.

You can also expect any cloud-based instances managed by cloud vendors aim for a “five nines” availability or a 99.999% uptime. Even in the rare case of a failed host, you can replicate a backup instance in the cloud – you can’t procure new hardware anywhere near as quickly. Cloud vendors also provide multiple availability zones so you can quicken performance for every region you serve and isolate faults to specific regions. You can’t achieve that level of reliability running applications on traditional on-premise hardware.

Reason #4: Scalability

Even Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon couldn’t scale on-premise instances fast enough – they’ve achieved true “web-scale,” including elasticity and enormous horizontal resource scaling. You can get those same benefits as you modernize your application stack.

Cloud platforms auto-scale – certain system parts can automatically scale up during a traffic spike. Conversely, they also scale down during times of low activity to reduce costs. This elasticity comes in handy during periods of intense performance testing and data crunching. Cloud vendors provide these automation services with templates – you can replicate the same configuration on multiple instances with a single command.  

This predictability when creating resources lets you scale out with ease. Some serverless computing platforms allow scaling without even having to provision additional instances. Provisioning is done behind the scenes by the cloud – you define the resources required, and your code executes when called automatically in an on-demand billing model.

Reason #5: Monitoring and Security Without Compromises  

When you can scale rapidly, it’s easy for monitoring and security to fall by the wayside – it’s a recipe for disaster.

With cloud-native applications, monitoring and security are fundamentally different. Instead of using a single monitoring tool, you’ll be best served by a best-of-breed approach to monitoring that combines vendor-provided, third-party, and open-source monitoring tools. And because security in the cloud requires adequate data encryption in transit and at rest, cloud vendors provide encryption services.

Security isn’t the same as compliance, however. As regulatory obligations grow across many industries, especially in financial services and healthcare, you need to automate your compliance monitoring and bake it into applications just as you do security. Architech’s approach to rearchitecting applications is to enable a new environment that reduces the need for manual interventions that can lead to costly mistakes – this minimizes data loss while ensuring continuity and adherence to any compliance policies.  

The caveat is monitoring and security are more complex and challenging for cloud-native applications. Still, when you can do it right, you get a much better level of visibility and confidence that’s unheard of with traditional, on-premise monolithic applications.

Rearchitect for Long-Term Agility

Suppose you’re serious about modernizing your legacy applications to keep pace with your rapidly changing business needs. In that case, you can’t afford not to take advantage of cloud-native applications and microservices architecture.

A simple “lift-and-shift” of an old application through rehosting may get you to the cloud quickly, but rearchitecting an application will allow you to maximize the benefits of going cloud-native over the longer term. The Architech Accelerators were built to help you rearchitect applications quickly and maximize your investment, including the necessary automation that does all the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.  

Suppose you’re avoiding an inevitable rearchitecting of your core legacy applications because it looks too daunting. In that case, Architech Accelerators can get you to a modern, secure, cloud-native microservice-based architecture that will position you for long-term agility, elasticity, and flexibility to transform your business into an agile, responsive world-class enterprise.

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