blog May 12, 2021  |  Core

Making Sense of Application Modernisation

Type
blog
Service
Core
Date
May 2021

Introduction

Organisations often adopt an "if it ain’t broke, don't fix it" attitude towards their IT infrastructure. After all, why would you want to disrupt a working system? Modernisation efforts usually mean costly downtime to business teams and stakeholders. But what if failing to modernise has a hidden cost?  

Business as usual might seem comfortable, but a more apt description is complacent. Utilising the same legacy application and IT infrastructure in the modern cloud-everything world might mean your organisation is slowly bleeding market share (and customers) to more modern, agile competitors.  

Put simply: Modern digital infrastructure means your IT and developer teams won’t be fighting fires and squashing bugs. What they will be doing is delivering features that delight customers, and ultimately creating more value for the business. This article will aim to answer the why and the how of modernisation. 

Why Modernise?

Ask around a typical organisation about what needs modernising, and depending on who you talk to, you'll get very different perspectives. In particular, IT and development teams often have their views of what the critical pain points are.  

IT, infrastructure and operations teams will want to hone in on operational toil and firefighting. Legacy, bare-metal server hardware means a much higher time to value for IT teams, with a typical deployment requiring:  

  • Planning   

  • Sizing   

  • Purchasing   

  • Installation   

  • Burn-in  

  • Configuration.

Staying one step ahead of potential scaling needs while encumbered by lengthy deployment cycles while supporting existing services will leave your teams with no spare time for improvements or new projects.  

Application and development teams often measure success by how many customer-facing features they ship. More shipped features mean more business value created. Legacy application infrastructure doesn't empower software teams with the fast-feedback, fast-iteration loop of more modern DevOps-focused workflows. Software developers would prefer to outsource their operational burdens, focusing on high-velocity development and deployment.  

So how do you decide which to modernise first? It's important for your technical people and business stakeholders to collaborate by leveraging data from existing systems and applications, and combining that with a pragmatic evaluation of your organisation's short and long-term business goals.   

The next section provides some key highlights on how to evaluate that choice. 

Team looking at Agile Kanban board

Modernise Your Infrastructure or Your Application?

Modernisation offers benefits for both IT and application developers. The question is which one you should focus on. 

Maybe your infrastructure struggles to meet the daily demand of employee and customer usage. Perhaps dated application infrastructure is resulting in long deploy cycles and buggy software releases. Ultimately, it depends on both your organisation's pain points and goals. 

Infrastructure Focus 

Your organisation should focus on modernising infrastructure if the following rings true:  

  • Your IT/operations team is small: Every investment made in scalable infrastructure means they aren't overburdened and can focus on more forward-looking deliverables.  

  • Development teams share or own operational responsibilities: This could be due to a small IT/ops team, or the total lack of one.  

  • Your business or product teams are primarily focused on user growth: Your product offers market-leading features that are locked in, and the goal is acquiring new customers and scaling to meet demand.  

If scalability and growth are key to driving business value, your infrastructure should be a key focus. Your IT and operations teams should collaborate with key business stakeholders, presenting performance metrics that support concentrating on infrastructure modernisation.  

Application Focus  

Your organisation should focus on modernising its application if the following rings true:  

  • Your development and product teams are smaller and more nimble: They might be struggling to balance business needs and customer feature requests.  

  • You have an established customer base or are competing in a crowded market: Being able to disrupt competitors by delivering what customers want at a higher velocity is critical.  

  • Your existing systems infrastructure can't easily be scaled or replaced: Existing servers may need to be retrofitted to enable modern development workflows like Agile.  

If your organisation is pursuing an established market or customer base, or you need to deploy modernisation efforts on top of existing system infrastructure, you should focus on application modernisation. 

The Primary Goal Is Delivering Business Value 

It's non-technical stakeholders who are really in the driving seat when it comes to deciding what to focus on. Customers, as well as internal business teams truly set what the top-line goals are. It's up to IT and application teams to help meet them.  

Success in a modern enterprise is often driven by the ability to take abstract business problems and convert them into an actionable, quantifiable technology strategy. The degree of that success depends on how quickly a problem turns into a strategy that delivers business value. Reducing "time to value" is the goal: Faster iteration means a shorter cycle of idea → feature/product/service.  

If you work at an organisation with legacy applications and infrastructure, going to the cloud can seem like an attractive option. The ability to scale infrastructure with a few clicks or API calls stands in stark contrast to the effort required to deploy traditional "rack-and-stack" servers. Cloud providers also offer several managed services for application deployment, allowing developers to focus solely on feature delivery.  

However, seamlessly migrating to cloud infrastructure is a daunting task. If you don't already have a critical mass of cloud know-how, you may find your organisation is ill-equipped to deal with the technical challenges. 

The key is to balance existing service delivery with new technology rollouts. Modernisation doesn't have to depend on a full commitment to the cloud. Partners like Ekco can help bridge the gap with a private cloud solution, laying the foundation for a full cloud rollout in the future. 

Business Goals Drive Technology 

For any organisation, the ultimate goal for any technology choice, and any modernisation effort, is to deliver business value. Modern application infrastructure means your developers are free to work on the features customers desire the most. Modern systems infrastructure means your IT and operations teams can effortlessly scale to meet service demand.  

Partnering with the right group augments your resources and staff so you can focus on existing service needs, while collaboratively choosing a path forward to help meet your goals, now and in the future.  

Drive your business goals with Ekco as your modernisation partner. Read more about our application services hereGet in touch today to hear our success stories, and to find out how we can help you. 

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