The path to modernizing mission-critical applications

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In a world where business disruption is the rule and not the exception, enterprises need IT environments that are designed to yield real innovation by enabling continuous, iterative development. Flexible, agile platforms allow organizations to develop new business models and deliver product innovation and deployment, as well as enable employee productivity and customer engagement.

Cloud adoption continues to grow, while migration to both public and private cloud infrastructure is already mainstream. Broader IT transformation efforts are picking up steam as well, including modernization with containers and microservices, and adoption of cloud-native tools and DevOps processes. Organizations must simultaneously develop modernization strategies for legacy workloads, adopt cloud-native approaches for application development, and integrate the old and the new within a common management and operations framework.

Overcoming four common application modernization challenges

According to 451 Research’s recent Voice of the Enterprise Digital Pulse: Workloads & Key Projects survey, over the next two years, enterprises are expected to expand their workload deployment on public cloud from 22 percent to 39 percent. However, private cloud is still the primary workload venue now, growing from 27 percent to 34 percent of workloads. Why? Most organizations, particularly large enterprises, don’t have the luxury of starting all over again on public cloud and therefore prefer to modernize mission-critical workloads in place. Drivers of this IT strategy include using existing infrastructure investments, ensuring security and maintaining application and data dependencies.

What does this mean for the path to application modernization? It’s not a question of “if.” It’s all about when and how. There are multiple challenges to overcome, which include the following:

  • Deconstructing the monolith. Taking stock of the existing estate generally involves deciding which applications to take on first. The assessment should take into account factors such as the business value of the application; technology, data and business process dependencies; and compatibility with the most basic type of modernization, VM containerization.
  • Access to talent. Cloud platform skills and cloud-native expertise remain key areas in which organizations are facing serious skills gaps. At the same time, however, skills related to heritage application architectures and customized software are also crucial to the success of modernization initiatives.
  • Culture. Cloud-native involves a new approach to application development and IT operations. A culture clash between agile IT and traditional work processes can create a bumpy road for organizations focused on modernization.
  • Ongoing management and orchestration. Ongoing application modernization in increasingly hybrid IT environments requires unified management platforms that can intelligently map workloads to and between IT execution venues, as well as orchestrate executions and performance across all venues, and enable automation.

Converting to a cloud operating model

Successful application modernization is crucial to digital transformation. Organizations that focus on cloud-enabling their applications and adopting cloud-native development techniques are empowering business agility and improving customer experiences. As more and more businesses begin to adopt multiple services, conversion to the cloud operating model is key to creating and maintaining a competitive advantage.

To learn more about the unique IBM approach toward application modernization for the enterprise, read the smart paper “Modernize applications: Simplify and extend apps with an open, hybrid cloud”.

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