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In today's fast-paced digital landscape, the pressure for businesses in New Zealand to adapt and evolve alongside technological advancements and shifting consumer expectations is immense. The necessity for application modernisation, specifically transitioning from outdated legacy systems, software, and applications to more modern technologies, has become undeniable. This modernisation process, encompassing everything from cloud migration to revitalisation is crucial for enhancing performance, security, and scalability. By updating existing applications, companies can ensure they remain competitive and in tune with current market demands.


The journey of modernising legacy applications involves a comprehensive assessment of existing software systems, identification of security vulnerabilities, and a strategic approach to data migration and cloud migration. Legacy systems, often riddled with technical debt and maintenance costs, can stifle operational efficiency and business growth. Through app modernisation, businesses can harness modern cloud computing platforms, implement new features, and improve security measures, thereby transforming outdated systems into assets that drive business value and meet evolving business needs.


However, the path to digital transformation is not without its challenges. It requires a meticulous modernisation strategy, commitment from development teams, and readiness for cultural and organisational changes. The modernisation efforts must align with business goals, focusing on improving the user interface, leveraging artificial intelligence, and adopting modern programming languages for enhanced functionality and user experience. As many organisations strive to modernise their legacy applications, the importance of an incremental modernisation approach, prioritising cloud services, and addressing security issues becomes increasingly clear, ensuring a smooth and successful modernisation journey that meets the dynamic demands of the digital age.


Current trends in application modernisation

Current trends in application modernisation are significantly influencing global enterprises, emphasising the urgency to evolve business processes and systems. There's a marked shift towards cloud-native applications, highlighting a move from outdated legacy systems to modern, scalable cloud platforms. This trend is bolstered by the widespread adoption of microservices architectures and DevOps practices, addressing the challenges posed by legacy software and aiming for improved operational efficiency. Surveys underscore the prioritisation of app modernisation within strategic planning, as businesses aim to address technical debt, enhance data security, and ensure compatibility with modern technologies. Additionally, the journey toward digital transformation through cloud migration strategies and the modernisation of existing apps is becoming a focal point for companies looking to innovate and meet the evolving needs of their business and customers.


The 7 core application modernisation challenges


1. Preserving data integrity

Database migration, crucial in legacy system modernisation, presents significant challenges, especially in preserving data integrity. Many organisations transitioning from outdated systems to modern platforms face dilemmas in maintaining the accuracy and integrity of legacy data. Solutions involve a comprehensive assessment, utilising reliable migration tools, and implementing continuous data validation processes during the migration to modern cloud services. This ensures seamless integration into modern systems, addressing security vulnerabilities while enhancing operational efficiency. Addressing these issues is essential for successful digital transformation, enabling businesses to navigate the modernisation journey effectively and meet evolving business goals.

2. Streamlining modern software

For businesses looking to stay competitive, efficient modernisation is essential. This involves adopting a modular approach, which entails dissecting the cumbersome legacy system into smaller, more manageable components. By doing so, companies can address specific areas of need without overhauling the entire infrastructure at once. This incremental update or replacement strategy allows for the integration of modern solutions at a manageable pace, reducing disruption to operating and facilitating a smoother transition to contemporary technologies. Ultimately, this approach leads to enhanced operational efficiency, better security measures, and a more scalable, flexible business model.

3. Investment costs and project duration

Investment costs and project duration is a pivotal challenge in the application modernisation journey for many enterprises. The financial implications of updating outdated systems can be substantial, making it crucial for businesses to meticulously conduct a cost-benefit analysis. This analysis helps in understanding the potential return on investment and in identifying areas where long-term savings can be realised. Additionally, adopting an incremental approach to modernisation allows companies to spread out their expenses over time, rather than facing steep upfront costs. This method also offers the advantage of reducing the overall project duration by tackling smaller, manageable segments of the modernisation process sequentially. By carefully planning and executing these strategies, businesses can mitigate financial risks and ensure a smoother transition to modern, more efficient systems.

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4. Rightsizing for optimal efficiency

Containerisation, while a cornerstone of digital transformation, requires careful consideration to achieve optimal efficiency and resource utilisation. The task of rightsizing containers is crucial; it involves determining the appropriate size and configuration for containers to ensure they meet business needs without wasting resources. Best practices suggest starting small, which allows development teams to monitor performance and security measures closely, adjusting configurations as needed. This approach is integral to app modernisation, aiding in reducing maintenance costs of legacy software and enhancing operational efficiency. By adopting such practices, organisations can navigate the complexities of legacy app modernisation, seamlessly integrating new features and modern technologies into existing applications. This strategic incremental modernisation ensures that businesses can tackle technical debt and legacy code effectively, paving the way for a successful modernisation journey and alignment with comprehensive business goals.

5. Vendor Lock-In

Breaking free from vendor lock-in is essential for maintaining the agility and innovation capacity of businesses undergoing digital transformation. This issue often arises from outdated systems and software that tie companies to specific vendors, limiting their ability to adapt to new technologies and business needs. To combat this, businesses should prioritise solutions that ensure interoperability and data portability, crucial aspects that enable a smooth transition between different platforms and services. Careful evaluation of vendors, focusing on those who support cloud migration strategies and modernisation efforts, is vital. Additionally, planning for future changes by adopting an app modernisation strategy that incorporates flexible cloud services and modern systems can significantly reduce dependency on any single vendor. This approach not only enhances operational efficiency but also ensures businesses retain control over their technology stack, aligning with their long-term business goals and facilitating continuous adaptation to market demands.

6. Organisational transformation

Organisational transformation during the modernisation journey can often encounter resistance, particularly when transitioning from outdated systems to modern technologies. Overcoming this resistance is crucial for the success of application modernisation efforts. It requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the human element, central to integrating new business processes and systems. By fostering a culture of innovation, providing targeted training, and involving all levels of the organisation, companies can align their development teams with their business goals. This involves not just updating software and hardware but also embracing cultural and organisational changes, ensuring that everyone is part of the modernisation strategy. Adequate support and clear communication help in transitioning from legacy applications and outdated software, moving towards modern systems and cloud platforms that enhance operational efficiency and meet evolving business needs.

7. Confronting high-tech debt

Confronting high-tech debt is essential in legacy system modernisation, ensuring smooth progress. Accumulated technical debt can severely impede application modernisation and cloud migration efforts. It is crucial for businesses to identify, prioritise, and strategise the reduction of this debt, employing proof of concept approaches for integrating new solutions and establishing clear coding standards. This proactive approach prevents future accumulation of technical debt, facilitating a smoother modernisation journey.

Practical solutions for application modernisation


Data and cloud migration

Data and Cloud Migration Mastery is essential in the digital transformation and application modernisation journey for many organisations. Achieving seamless migration from outdated software systems to modern cloud platforms involves utilising the right tools and strategies, such as ETL plugins for effective data transfer and leveraging cloud service provider solutions. This approach addresses the challenges of updating legacy applications and mitigates security risks associated with maintaining outdated software. Comprehensive assessments and cloud migration strategies tailored to business needs ensure that the modernisation efforts enhance operational efficiency and align with business goals. By adopting modern technologies and practices, development teams can overcome technical debt, reduce maintenance costs, and introduce new features, leading to improved security measures and operational efficiency in legacy app modernisation.

Streamlining Legacy Systems

Streamlining outdated systems through a chunking approach facilitates the systematic and incremental modernisation of outdated technologies. By breaking down the process into manageable segments, businesses can integrate modern solutions step by step, leading to continuous improvement in workflow and performance. This methodical strategy ensures that each phase of the modernisation journey is manageable, reducing disruptions and enhancing operational efficiency.

Balancing investment and duration

Balancing investment and duration in the modernisation journey demands a flexible and strategic approach. By adopting phased investments, businesses can spread out costs over time, making the process financially manageable. Leveraging agile methodologies enables organisations to adapt swiftly to changing needs and priorities, ensuring that each stage of the project aligns with current business objectives and market demands, thereby optimising both time and resources.

Mastering container optimisation

Mastering container optimisation is crucial for maximising efficiency in modern cloud environments. Effective container management requires precise rightsizing to ensure resources match workload demands, avoiding both overprovisioning and underutilisation. Regular monitoring and continuous optimisation of container environments are essential to maintain performance, reduce costs, and adapt to changing needs, ultimately ensuring that containerised applications run as efficiently as possible.

Creating an exit strategy

Creating an exit strategy to deal with vendor lock-in is an essential component of a comprehensive modernisation strategy. Future planning requires careful selection of vendors who offer transparent policies and support cloud migration strategies, ensuring that businesses can maintain operational efficiency and adapt to digital transformation needs. It is crucial to ensure data portability and to incorporate flexible contractual terms that support easy exit or transition, safeguarding against the limitations imposed by outdated legacy systems and promoting a smoother legacy modernisation journey. This approach empowers businesses to navigate the modernisation process with greater agility, aligning with their long-term business goals and reducing the risks associated with vendor dependency.

Fostering organisational support

Fostering organisational support entails making teams integral to the modernisation journey. This involves clear communication of goals and expectations, providing necessary tools and comprehensive training to equip teams for new challenges. Additionally, recognising and rewarding their contributions and progress reinforces their value in the process, enhancing morale and fostering a collaborative environment essential for successful transformation.

Managing technical debt

Fostering organisational support and making teams part of the application modernisation journey are crucial for success. It involves engaging teams through clear communication, outlining the benefits and goals of modernising legacy applications, and addressing any concerns. Providing teams with the necessary tools, training, and resources ensures they are well-equipped to handle new technologies and methodologies. Additionally, recognising and rewarding contributions and progress fosters a positive atmosphere and encourages continuous involvement, ultimately facilitating a smoother transition and promoting a culture of innovation and collaboration within the organisation. This collective approach aligns with business needs and enhances operational efficiency.

Canon Business Services

Canon Business Services excels in the world of application modernisation, providing comprehensive solutions and expertise that cater to the unique needs of businesses aiming to transform their legacy systems. Our approach is holistic, addressing both technical and cultural aspects of modernisation, ensuring seamless integration of modern technologies and methodologies. Success stories from Canon Business Services highlight their proficiency in navigating complex challenges, mitigating risks associated with legacy modernisation, and implementing strategies that lead to transformative results. This track record instills confidence in their clients, ensuring that their journey from outdated systems to modern, efficient, and agile operations is both successful and sustainable.


Conclusion

Application modernisation presents numerous challenges, yet with appropriate strategies and solutions, businesses can effectively navigate these obstacles. Critical to this process is the deep understanding of inherent challenges, such as dealing with outdated legacy systems, addressing technical debt, and managing the cultural shifts required for digital transformation. Adopting a structured approach to modernisation, which includes comprehensive assessments, phased implementations, and continuous improvement, is essential. Furthermore, engaging all stakeholders— from top management to development teams—ensures a unified effort towards the modernisation goals.

By embracing this holistic approach, businesses can fully leverage the benefits of modernisation. This includes enhancing operational efficiency, improving security measures, and fostering innovation. Ensuring that the technology infrastructure is not only robust and flexible but also aligned with the evolving business needs, paves the way for sustained success. In turn, companies can stay competitive in the digital era, meeting both current and future challenges with confidence.

Frequently asked questions

Why is application modernisation difficult?

Application modernisation can be difficult due to various factors including the complexity of legacy systems, technical debt, and the challenge of integrating new technologies with existing applications. Transitioning from outdated software and legacy technologies to modern cloud platforms and services requires comprehensive assessment, careful planning, and alignment with operational goals. Additionally, cultural and organisational changes are needed to support the modernisation journey, which can add to the complexity. 

What are some obstacles to modernisation for legacy software?

Some obstacles to modernisation include maintaining outdated legacy systems, overcoming resistance to change within the organisation, managing the costs associated with upgrading outdated systems, and ensuring data security during cloud migration and data modernisation efforts. Additionally, identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities, addressing legacy code issues, and dealing with vendor lock-in can hinder the modernisation process.

Which is affected by application modernisation?

Application modernisation affects various aspects of a business, including operational efficiency and the user interface. It impacts development teams, requiring new programming languages and software development practices. Modernisation can also affect data management and security measures, as well as necessitate cultural and organisational changes to adapt to new technologies and business needs. 

What are the challenges of data modernisation for a legacy system?

The challenges of data modernisation include ensuring data integrity and security during cloud and data migration, managing the complexities of transforming legacy data, and integrating modern data management practices with existing software. Overcoming technical debt associated with legacy databases and applications, adapting to modern data standards, and aligning data modernization with overall business goals and strategies are also significant challenges. 

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