Your Guide to Understanding Application Modernization

application modernization guide

One of the challenges businesses face when they move to the cloud is the difference in the digital landscape compared to on-premises. Many of them might still rely on monolithic legacy systems that failed to account for the flexibility and agility needed in the cloud. Application modernization is an essential tool to combat this challenge.

As such, it’s important for business owners to fully understand what “application modernization” is and how to use it to their benefit.

What is application modernization?

Application modernization is the process of taking existing legacy applications and updating them for newer computing approaches. It is often be referred to as legacy modernization or legacy application modernization. It is the software equivalent of renovating an old home to keep up with modern designs. For businesses, rather than retiring an old system or replacing it entirely, it’s far better to extend its lifespan while taking advantage of technical innovations through application modernization.

Why should businesses modernize legacy applications?

Legacy applications are often monolithic applications that are difficult to update and expensive to scale. This is why businesses often look to application modernization as a way to protect their investment. Through application modernization, they can refresh their software portfolio to take advantage of modern infrastructure, tools, languages, and other technology. Not only that but they can also take advantage of the many benefits of modernization:

Improve Performance

Old technology often translates into slow performance for IT. Modernization gives these monolithic applications a new life. It allows businesses to extend their lifespan and makes them more scalable, flexible, and easier to maintain. Businesses can drastically improve performance, like faster load times and lower downtime when they use the latest tools and technologies.

Reduce Costs

Legacy applications often can no longer be updated and have little or no support, making it hard to maintain them. Plus, the older they get, the harder it is to find qualified skilled personnel to maintain it. At the end of the day, the cost of maintaining these aging applications is often higher than simply modernizing them.

Improve Security

Legacy applications are often not up to date on the latest security measures. That makes them more vulnerable to attacks than other applications. When businesses modernize their applications and deploy the latest infrastructure, they ensure that their security is updated as well. Not only that, but modernization helps them meet compliance needs as well.

Increase Speed and Agility

Many businesses today consider agility an important factor for growth. As customers’ needs continue to change and grow, businesses need to be able to deploy new applications/features quickly. Application modernization allows them to do just that.

Application modernization approaches

Now that you know why you should modernize your applications, let’s look at the three common approaches for modernization:

    • Rehost/Lift and Shift:

      This is often the least invasive approach as it is the process of taking an application from a legacy environment and moving it as is to your desired cloud environment. However, this is not often the most optimal approach depending on the application.

    • Refactor/Re-architect:

      This is the process of moving an application to the cloud then modifying it significantly to take full advantage of cloud-native features. Many teams use this approach to break up a monolithic application into smaller decoupled pieces, commonly referred to as microservices.

    • Replatform/Lift and Reshape:

      This is sort of the middle ground option between rehosting and refactoring. Say if you have an application that requires some level of modification, but they are not too major to justify refactoring, is when you use replatforming.

Legacy applications modernization strategy

When you’re developing your cloud strategy, you must look into your modernization strategy as well. An important tool that you will need for a successful modernization strategy is conducting a cloud assessment. A cloud assessment is when you take inventory of your applications and see how they can be moved to the cloud.

As you develop your modernization strategy, remember that it is a long-term process. How long it will take will largely depend on your business model and resources. A quick way to accelerate the process is to work with a trusted cloud partner for the modernization process.

For example, an advanced AWS partner, like FORTE CLOUD, will work with you to see the best approaches for you to maximize your cloud investment. A partner will also be able to help you through the migration process and are often more equipped to handle any challenges you may face. For more information, feel free to contact our team and we will gladly answer any inquiries you may have.


Legacy systems are often among businesses’ most mission-critical applications. As such, businesses have often large investments in them. And as a result, most businesses are often hesitant to retire these applications and start over from scratch. Therefore, application modernization is the most sensible option for them. They can take full advantage of the cloud and extend the life of otherwise outdated systems.

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