Application Modernization

What is application modernization?

Application modernization is when a business updates or repurposes its existing software to extract more value to better align to their current needs. This usually involves modernizing its architecture, infrastructure, or key product features. A legacy application, according to Gartner, is an “information system that may be based on outdated technologies, but is critical to day-to-day operations.”

Transforming old software into new tech

The average lifespan for complex software programs (those that contain more than a million lines of code) ranges from 12-14 years. But today’s enterprise companies could be using 20- to 30-year-old software that has been patched and reconditioned to handle increasingly complex transactions and larger amounts of data.


You may be wondering why anyone would spend time and money to save an outdated system. Legacy application modernization can be compared to taking your car to a garage to be serviced. How much money are you willing to put into your 20-year-old beater? Is it worth replacing the transmission or putting in a new engine? Your legacy app must also be evaluated to determine if the code and architecture are still sound. Often, the cost of upgrading your existing system will be much easier to swallow than buying entirely new software.

It’s important to weigh the value of the legacy program to your business while being pragmatic about the costs and benefits of the application modernization. What’s critical is maintaining business operations throughout the upgrading process, and staying flexible and agile while maintaining your company’s competitive advantage in the marketplace.

See Sisense In Action:

User Engagement - IT Dashboard

Three paths to achieve modernization

There are three main options for your application modernization process. The first, and least resource-intensive, lifts and shift. This involves plugging your existing code base and configuration into a modern deployment platform. A more current platform can give you higher scalability, faster speed, and better resource optimization.

The next option, augmenting your software, means adding a new feature or skin to your existing app, making it accessible to modern applications and environments. For example, you could append a front-end mobile app to your existing mainframe application. The approach saves development time and reduces costs because the software’s functionality remains.

Finally and most dramatic is the complete rewrite of your legacy app. While time-consuming and expensive, this is the best option if you want to keep software that the vendor no longer supports, or if you lack the internal knowledge needed to manage and fix the legacy application.

Legacy modernization for enterprises

Enterprise organizations have unique demands placed upon them by the marketplace. They are supposed to deliver exceptional value in highly competitive markets. Customers expect seamless and consistent experiences that are adaptable to their needs and scalable to high or low levels, all neatly wrapped in a user-friendly interface. So for these organizations, application modernization is almost always worth the effort, from both a technology and financial perspective.

Choosing The Right Platform For Enterprises CTA Banner

Key technologies for application modernization

Modernizing your systems, as part of your company’s digital transformation efforts, can be done in a few different ways. If your application is capable of running in the cloud, then rehosting it or reinstalling it there as part of your legacy application modernization may be your best option, because it allows you to upgrade your technology without modifying your code. Your cloud transition can involve a private or in-house cloud, a publicly available service like AWS or Google Cloud, or a hybrid of the two.

Another option for your application modernization is container technology, which has become essential for many organizations’ modernizing process. creating agile IT processes. Containers allow you to package your apps with all the necessary parts and send it out as one singular package, creating agile IT processes. Many organizations rely on Kubernetes, an open-source framework system that manages clusters of containers.

Building on our previous options, the third option for application modernization is microservices, which enables quick changes to applications and can be deployed on containers running in clouds. Microservices architecture is made up of small application functions that are separated into containers and can be deployed and scaled independently of one another.

In summary

The aging of your company’s software programs is a problem that we all have to face, eventually. As Martin Fowler says, “Let’s face it, all we are doing is writing tomorrow’s legacy software today.” Before you haul your system to the junk heap, try the application modernization solutions here to keep your software working for you longer and extract the most value you can — as long as it lasts.

Watch a Demo Back to Glossary