Practices to Modernize, Maintain, and Future-Proof Legacy Systems

Today, software applications power not just businesses but the world and the human experience in its entirety. It is only logical, therefore, to try and catch a glimpse of what the future holds. 

Three significant transformations have been going on simultaneously in modernizing your legacy applications. What’s more, they’re interrelated. 

This is what we’re seeing: this change in how progressive tech teams are doing architecture, infrastructure, and their ways of working – how they deliver.


If we go back in time a little bit, we saw very monolithic applications running on physical servers. They used waterfall-style development, where organizations would have extended plans and say, “OK, this will be our planning phase, development phase, and testing phase.” They could plan out a project that would take at least a year to complete. 

Looking at how most organizations are working today architecturally, they deploy a distributed architecture as part of their application modernization strategy. 

It’s usually related to a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), the big buzzword from a few years ago, but essentially a type of distributed architecture. 


For the average CTO, these statements are boilerplate. “We have a bunch of web services. They’re talking to each other. We’ve got some databases on the backend and then some frontends.” 

On an infrastructure level, the CTO is running his enterprise app on a virtual machine.  

So, progressive tech companies took a different approach. The statements they made were: 

  • “We could probably do better than having to order a new server every time we have a new service.” 
  • “Let’s virtualize this.” 
  • “And we need a little more density along the way.” 

The next step is deciding the infrastructure, the perfect choice being the Cloud. 

This could be a public cloud or a private cloud. We are painting with a very broad brush when we say “cloud” here. 

Progressive tech firms lionize Agile development and not without cause. It offers clients a better perspective while gauging what happens a little further downstream in the software life cycle.  

In the next phase, developers take another pass at service-oriented architecture and instead shrink the sizes of the services, taking advantage of the more dynamic infrastructure. In short, they create microservices. 

The microservice architecture has very small, focused services, moving away from a lot of the heavyweight XML-based communication we saw on SOA towards more REST-based communication. 

Yet, the core concept remains the same:  To keep breaking the coding process into smaller and smaller pieces. With a view that proposes the elimination of interdependency between services, application modernization becomes a breeze, given that each component can be edited without twisting the software out of shape. 

Operations and Delivery 

And then, from an Operations and delivery lens, integration of DevOps is the key. (In addition to approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, SRE)

These are the three transformations that a progressive development team now has in its repertoire of processes, methodologies, and toolsets. 

Correlation Analysis 

Today, you could walk into any large enterprise, and you are sure to find someone who says: “We are going through a cloud transformation.”

You’ll often find another person who says: “Yes. I’m in charge of leading the DevOps transformation”. 

Shift your gaze to the enterprise’s architecture, and sure enough, you will find a person who will say: “Yes. We are pushing microservice architectures.” 

Most businesses think they’re going through 3 different application modernization strategies, but these transformations are, in fact, tied together. 

  • If you are doing microservices, and you have new microservices all the time, to get a new microservice up and running, you would have to order a new physical server and then rack and stack it a couple of months later, meaning that you are not going to get any time-to-market benefits. 
  • Thanks to your obsolete server, the resilience benefits that you would look forward to from microservices normally will be significantly reduced. 
  • Microservices want cloud infrastructure. You want to say: “I’ve got a new microservice. Let me put it in a container and just run it and scale it dynamically.” 
  • Similarly, the Cloud likes running microservices. The benefits of dynamically scaling are amazing when you have a lot of small things that you might need in varying quantities, depending on your goals. 

It’s not as interesting when you’ve got a monolith that isn’t even distributed. How do you scale that? 

Should you get a bigger cloud hosting? And how are you supposed to bake-in speed and resilience? 

The short answer is DevOps. 

The developers, who always have wanted speed, merge forces with the operations people, who have always wanted that resiliency. 

Wrapping Up

To take advantage of these new infrastructures and the new architectures built on them, you need these new ways of working. 

Begin by wiring up your applications to be more easily monitored and more resilient. 

When we think of application modernization, we usually picture an exodus en-masse from monolithic architecture, or service-oriented architectures towards microservices, adopting Cloud, modernizing our ways of working towards DevOps and SRE. 

Choosing an application modernization partner can be tricky because not all software firms are made equal, and you want to scale, not fail. 

To conclude, we would like to say that right now is a really exciting time, and so long as you understand that your transformation journey isn’t three separate paths you need to traverse. Instead, they are parallel lines, all pointing and leading you towards successful application modernization.

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