Building a culture of change for modernization


1 min read

Make modernization your business
Group of people listening to a central speaker

Modernization isn’t simply about seeking diamonds in your data or satisfaction from your customers. When you fall behind, your organization misses out on making success systemic. You need your technology, people and processes to work towards your future.

According to a recent study from Forrester Consulting, companies with higher readiness achieve outcomes more quickly by minimizing the challenges of alignment with tech, people and process. 1

IT infrastructure modernization is like breathing. Organizations that make it instinctive are able to try new things. But you don’t need to change everything to make an impact. In fact, the opportunity cost of changing everything may be too high. But prioritizing smaller and significant changes to technology, people and process — incremental modernization — can produce early success and lead to bigger opportunities.

If you commit to building a culture of change, your organization won’t be afraid when you try new things; they’ll welcome it. They won’t be angry when you fail. They’ll expect it. They won’t be surprised when you succeed. They’ll expect that too. Because cultures of change know that success isn’t a race, it’s a relay. Cultures of change are always working to modernize. And while modernization means many things to many different organizations, ultimately, it’s progress. This guide was designed with that in mind — to help you and your organization begin to understand how you can get on a path where modernization becomes your modus operandi.

1 Successful Enterprise Application Modernization Requires Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of IBM, June 2021.


4 min read

Why modernize?
Three people looking down at a tablet

Simply put, most organizations need their applications to be maintained, extended, deployed and managed in a way that allows them to meet their current and future needs. Application modernization opens the door to many business and technical benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some high-level improvements it can deliver.

There’s an easy number one there — nothing even comes close — that’s the customer-facing applications. You have to have the legendary customer experience. If you don’t have it, you’re not in business. ” 2
- IT leader, interviewed for a 2021 modernization study run by Forrester on behalf of IBM

Determine your drivers for change:
Our organization wants to eliminate service interruptions, create experiences that satisfy existing customers and attract new ones, respond faster to customers and ensure the protection of personal information.
Our organization is looking to enhance control over sensitive workloads on secure infrastructure, on premises and in a hybrid cloud, to comply with security and regulatory requirements.
Our organization needs the ability to quickly develop, test and deploy new features anywhere, integrate core systems and make ongoing improvements.
Our organization needs to ensure application developers have the right technology, skills and DevOps processes in place to uncover competitive advantages to build valuable customer experiences.
Our organization needs to be able to quickly scale up or down to have a flexible infrastructure to meet the volatile demand of certain workloads such as customer-facing or analytics applications.
Our organization needs better data backup and redundancy capabilities to ensure we are doing all we can to secure our data.
Our organization needs to embrace hybrid cloud to expand our choice and flexibility, to deploy anywhere and to leverage continuous innovation across public and private cloud providers.

What applications should I modernize?

Knowing which applications and infrastructure to modernize can be complex. The answer can vary depending on your organizational structure, IT environments and business objectives. So, what are other organizations focusing on? Well, according to a March 2021 study conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by IBM, 412 global IT decision-makers responsible for enterprise server and application development decisions are focusing their efforts on modernizing:

Customer-facing applications
Core business systems
Data management applications

* Forrester Consulting survey data

Should I migrate before I modernize?

Organizations that migrate then modernize start by focusing on the lift and shift of applications and workloads to cloud. When this happens, their modernization plans are tied to a public cloud platform. That can mean less portability for future plans.

But those that modernize first can position their organization for greater portability. Typically, these organizations follow one of many popular methods such as containerization of applications or API enablement so that they can work with legacy infrastructure now, are scalable and portable across their hybrid cloud environment and align to their modernization plans of tomorrow.

2 Successful Enterprise Application Modernization Requires Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of IBM, June 2021.


4 min read

Assess your readiness
Person sitting and talking to others at a thinking room

Modernization isn’t one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to gauge the stage your organization currently sits in. To do that, we’ve put together a way to chart your preparedness against other enterprise organizations looking to modernize. This data comes from a March 2021 IBM-commissioned Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper that surveyed how organizations are approaching application modernization. Where does your organization fall on the preparedness scale? Let’s take a look.

These organizations lack the proper technology, developer skills (cloud and on premises), security policies, and business processes for effective application modernization. 65% are planning or just beginning modernization efforts.
These organizations have solid modernization approaches but struggle with getting the right developer skills (cloud and on premises), security policies, and business process improvements for more complete application modernization. 58% have completed several modernization efforts with more underway or planned.
These organizations have the right combination of technology and development skills (both cloud and on premises), coupled with strong security policies and workflows to enable faster application modernization. 45% have already modernized primary applications and are now in a process of continuous improvement.

The organizations best-prepared and ready for application modernization achieve better business outcomes. And those that are prepared tend to focus their efforts on building alignment across their technology, people, and process. Focusing on these areas can help you make great strides towards modernization. Per the Forrester Consulting paper, let’s explore what they found constitutes readiness across technology, people and process.

Organizations that excel in this dimension have the right platforms and service companies put in place to support cloud-native concepts (e.g., microservices, containers, APIs, events, self-provisioned resources, and DevOps automation).
Organizations that excel in this dimension have the right skills to develop, operate, and secure cloud-native applications and to execute at scale using self-organizing and highly autonomous (i.e., agile) teams.
Organizations that excel in this dimension have the right policies and levels of AI and automation to support the rapid delivery of new capabilities. They have modern DevOps processes and continuous integration and measurement.

Business case for modernization

One of the biggest challenges your enterprise may likely encounter before its modernization journey even begins is securing a budget. Build a business case by demonstrating how application modernization will not only pay for itself but generate additional savings over time. Consider these quantified benefits Forrester has illustrated in its Total Economic Impact™ study of both IBM and Red Hat solutions together.

accelerate delivery
avoided head count
return on investment
months payback period 3
3 The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM Services and Red Hat Partnering for Accelerated Client Value, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of IBM, November 2020.


4 min read

Discover your opportunities and obstacles
Glass door with IBM Garage name on it

You may have a list of modernization priorities, or you may be staring at a blank page. Either way, you need to understand and prioritize your organization’s opportunities and obstacles in order to make real change. You need to know the best way to leverage the workloads and IT solutions you have where they are most powerful. And you need to find out where they are not working efficiently so you can improve them with the right combination technology, people and process to turn your ideas into business value.

Where do you want to go?

The IBM Garage™ methodology can help you to discover your opportunities and obstacles standing in the way of your progress. This method builds on agile principles for global teams, uses DevOps tools and techniques for continued delivery and operations, and nurtures digital talent and culture change. Whether you have a well-defined objective or are unsure of what to focus on first, this methodology can help you define your roadmap to change.

When we partner with an organization, we look to fully understand their IT environment and infrastructure. We examine their pain points and challenges so we can grasp where we need to go in order to get their environment from A to B. ”
- Elisabeth Stahl, Director and Distinguished Engineer, IBM Garage for Systems

Find your lightbulb

To find your opportunities, begin by asking the right questions. Your answers will help define your biggest business and technological challenges standing in the way of progress. This is the first step of the IBM Garage methodology. Let’s find your lightbulb.

  1. What are your current pain points and business challenges?

    Example: As a retailer, we run into capacity issues on Cyber Monday as well as other holidays. We need our web application to be accessible and available at all times. Because that's our business.
  2. Which capabilities do you seek — performance, availability, resiliency?

    Example: As a bank, our customers rely on our availability. Today, it’s 97% and we really need it to be 99.9%. We need our performance to be much better for our customers too.
  3. What cybersecurity and compliance levels do you require?

    Example: As a college institution, we need to explore compliance with GDPR regulations. Even though we are USA-based, we run programs worldwide, so we need to discuss the implications for regulations and security.
  4. What are your hardware and/or software management needs?

    Example: As a car manufacturer, we deal with so many tools for all our different environments. I’m looking for a better way to manage everything from a single pane of glass.
  5. What infrastructure, applications and processes are you looking to improve?

    Example: As an entertainment company, our organization is looking to take advantage of both on premises and public cloud to support for all of our content environments. We want to enable our infrastructure with the latest hybrid cloud capabilities.

In answering these lightbulb questions, you might find you’re concerned about new regulations or that availability is a major roadblock for your team. When you start asking questions about all facets of your infrastructure, you’ll start to see the opportunities: “If we architect this legacy system in this way, we can improve performance.” Until you start asking the hard questions, you may not realize the scope of capabilities holding you back.


7 min read

Define your modernization roadmap
Two people placing sticky notes on a whiteboard

You’ve asked the right questions. Now, it’s time to find the right opportunities, recommendations and even a minimum viable product (MVP) that can deliver high feasibility and high value to your organization. This next step is called a discovery workshop, and it involves bringing in a wide variety of voices and expertise.

Run a discovery workshop

Gather a team of collaborators from across your organization. This includes subject matter experts (SMEs) as well as user teams. Today, most discovery workshops are run remotely but this can also be an in-person brainstorm or some hybrid of the two. Provide your collaborators with a high-level review of your findings, including pain points, opportunities, and constraints of your current IT environment. Using a shared digital space, board or discussion, give your team time to jot down as many ideas as they can think of to improve your work.

Create a priority map

Take these scattershot ideas and begin to prioritize them by their feasibility and value using a prioritization map. See next figure for an visualization of what a typical priority map co-created by SMEs and user teams looks like. Whatever reaches the top-right quadrant of high feasibility and importance is likely your strongest candidate(s) to begin your modernization journey. These are your MVPs for this workshop.

Two axis chart Importance Feasibility

Prioritizing your progress

Once you have your priorities mapped out, it’s time to assess what it takes to execute. For example, you might look at how easy it to incorporate these ideas with microservices. Could you package your data into containers? Will you need APIs to retrieve core data for new experiences and applications? What would these changes mean to your users in terms of their requirements? All of these technical and infrastructural decisions go into your calculations, your solution and cost/benefit analysis. Once you feel confident in what your priorities are, you can start to define your benefits grid to help you decide where to begin modernizing first. See figure (#) for an example of how an organization can take a single initiative identified in a discovery workshop and begin to make progress.

Initiative (i.e. MVP): Implement containers with Red Hat OpenShift (High importance, High feasibility).


Our team is experimenting with Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Power in a step towards modernizing our environment. We expect to implement this solution this year.

Keep on the current path and work on Red Hat OpenShift
Explore the option of immediately running OCP on IBM Cloud Paks
Test to evaluate the capacity/performance gains
Containers are portable, have much less overhead, and require fewer system resources. They bring consistent environment operation, and support agile and DevOps efforts to accelerate development, testing and production cycles.
Red Hat OpenShift enables efficient container orchestration, allowing rapid container provisioning, deploying, scaling and management.

What you come away with from this discovery workshop could be a minimum viable product (MVP), but it could also be a list of priorities, recommendations and areas to begin to focus on. There is no right way to discover your next step. Sometimes having a workshop is all that is needed. It depends on where you are in your modernization journey. But one thing is clear: you must come away with action items.

Consider your next steps

You should leave every discovery workshop with clear next steps, owners of each step and target dates. Modernization doesn’t just happen. It needs to be nurtured across your organization, so make sure to save a considerable amount of time after your workshop for defining concrete next steps. Next steps can take many forms. They could be a cost analysis, a reading list, a series of actions and so forth. What’s most important is that you have next steps clearly defined, ownership divvied out and dates nailed down. A deliverable with next steps might look something like this:

Calculate cost estimates: Licensing costs now vs. public cloud, software, storage.
• John Doe to send Jane Doe cost info to CEO — 6/16
Provide Cloud pricing template and discussion.
• Jack/Jill to send to Robin – 6/21
Identify use cases. Pros/cons. Cost savings to performance and security.
• John/Jack/Jill/Robin to create in working session 6/23, 2 PM
Confirm security of data and identify regulations.
• John Doe — 6/23
Discuss Big Picture findings and research with team leads.
• Jack/Jill/Robin — End of July

Repeat to compete

Modernizing your infrastructure is continuous and hard work. It involves everyone in your organization. And when everyone’s involved, no one needs to be dragged along. By identifying and approaching your priorities effectively, you can start to make a difference for your customers and add value to your organization. For every challenge you face, there is a new technology to help you face it.

Now that you’ve taken on the step of finding your focus, let’s explore which actions and technologies are helping organizations make progress repeatable to transform their applications in hybrid cloud environments.


6 min read

Build a culture of change
Group of people chatting and smiling at an office environment

Build once, innovate everywhere

Flexible technology is key to creating a culture of change across business and technology that aligns your goals with your existing and future infrastructure. Microservices, containerization, and API connections provide organizations with infrastructure flexibility. Let’s explore how these technologies of progress can help you create the real organizational change you need.

Tools of the modernization trade
Microservices – simplify your application into more manageable services
Containerization – add portability to your applications so they can run anywhere
API connection – repurpose mission-critical data for new applications and experiences

A developer’s point of view

Cloud and cloud-native technologies like microservices, containers and API connections have become shorthand for modernization. Why? Because developers understand that their goals of delivering business value aren’t necessarily infrastructure-dependent. Yes, they will add to and retire obsolete processes. That’s a fact of IT life. But the opportunity cost of ripping and replacing everything is too high, especially when significant parts of your current infrastructure are a better fit for your modernization plans. With the right tools, any organization’s priorities are achievable.

Modernize existing applications

According to a recent study from Forrester Consulting, nearly 6 out of 10 respondents said their organization is committed to modernizing in place, embracing cloud-native concepts means embracing hybrid cloud.

To capitalize on the scalability and flexibility of cloud to run your apps wherever you want, whenever you want, you need to embrace cloud-native microservices. Cloud-native microservices coexist and connect with your existing applications and investments and can leverage the inherent performance, reliability and security benefits of your platform. With cloud-native technology, you can remove barriers to productivity and integration to create new user experiences, develop new applications and ultimately unlock new business opportunities.

Stop, collaborate and listen

Application modernization comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s not always easy to know where to start. This guide was designed to help you and your organization begin to understand how you can get on a path where modernization becomes your modus operandi. As you hone in on specific use cases you may need a hand in developing your plans. That is where IBM resources can help to further your journey with speed and efficiency.

Collaborate with IBM Garage

Modernization is collaboration. The IBM Garage can help you to identify business modernization opportunities with a discovery workshop. And with more than 9,000 client experiences annually, IBM Garage has seen it all and can help you discover pain points, manage risks, adopt technologies, speed up product development and find ways to measure the value of your modernization. Participate in a no-cost discovery workshop with IBM Garage.

Implement your future with IBM Lab Services

Once you’ve defined your modernization plans, the IBM Systems Lab Services team can help you to build and train your team in hybrid cloud and enterprise IT. Lab Services consultants collaborate with you onsite, offering deep technical expertise, valuable tools and successful methodologies to help solve business challenges, gain new skills and apply best practices. Accelerate the implementation of any cloud project.

Meet your IBM Transformation Advisor

The IBM Cloud Transformation Advisor helps you to analyze your on-premises workloads for modernization. They can help you determine the complexity of your applications and provide recommendations to help you achieve your goals.

Explore IBM IT modernization solutions

Application modernization is a vital investment that you need to make to meet the needs of your customers and clients. No matter what you are looking to do, IBM makes it easier to accomplish your modernization goals so that all aspects of your business stay up-to-date and ready to tackle the challenges of a rapidly transforming world.

Build a culture of change

There is a lot of confusion about where to start. Where to focus your attention first. What tools to use and how to improve your technology, skills and processes to do the vital work of modernization. We hope this guide helps you assess your next steps as an organization to make modernization an integral part of your future plans. IBM has helped thousands of companies tackle nearly every challenge posed by our rapidly changing world. We are ready to partner with you to help make it easier to accomplish your modernization technology goals.