Application Modernization–-from VMs to Containers or Serverless

Fri, 09/09/2022 - 10:37

Midsize companies often have very distinctive priorities when it comes to application modernization.  While larger companies tend to focus on the cloud migration of legacy applications and systems, midsize companies may be more interested in containerization or serverless technologies to speed up development and improve scalability. Before making any changes to a company's IT infrastructure and internal processes, CTOs and IT Leaders must first weigh the pros and cons of different approaches.
 

Application modernization: Fear of change

Fear of change can be a tricky thing. It can often cause IT managers to procrastinate for far too long before taking action.  Unfortunately, if an application is more than a few years old, it’s likely unable to take advantage of the latest advancements in the ongoing technological revolution, such as processing power and memory becoming more and more affordable. 

For example, it is not uncommon for Amazon Web Services (AWS) to release a new version of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) that is also slightly cheaper and more robust than the previous version. Furthermore, many modern applications are now specially designed to operate in containers as well as cloud-based serverless platforms, which can offer significant benefits in terms of cost, speed, and scalability.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when deciding whether to modernize an existing application:

  1. What is the application’s current state?  If it’s working well and meeting all your company’s needs, there may be no reason to change it.
     
  2. What are the potential benefits of modernization?  If an application is running on an outdated platform, it may be difficult or expensive to scale. Moving to a containerized or serverless architecture could make the scaling process much more manageable as your company grows and expands.
     
  3. What are the risks of modernization? Making changes to an existing application can be risky, and there’s always the potential for something to go wrong. Be sure to weigh the risks against the potential benefits before making any decisions. In some cases, there are tools that allow you to easily modernize an application, but that depends on the technology stack of the application.

Application modernization is a broad topic, and companies can take many different approaches. The most important thing is to consider all available options carefully to make the best decision for your company’s specific needs.
 

What really happens when IT departments change
(Hint:  It’s not what you think)

Many people mistakenly assume that when an IT department implements a new technological change, the only concern is the technology itself. Unfortunately, this couldn't be farther from the truth. The most significant “changes” usually involve the people working within the company.

One of the more common misconceptions that employees experience—though they often fail to express to their supervisors out of fear—is that “moving to the cloud” will result in staff layoffs or terminations.  IT Managers should be proactive in educating their staffers about this false assumption.   Ease their collective anxieties by immediately pointing out that—instead—application modernization allows employees to working faster, easier, and more productively than ever before. It’s a win-win.

When an IT department makes a change, there are usually three groups of people who are affected:

CTO and IT Managers: 

CTOs and IT Managers are responsible for signing off on any changes to the IT budget. They are very interested in all financial impacts that will result from the change. Therefore, they need a thorough understanding of the change's technical details and the effects it will have on their team. IT Managers are also responsible for implementing the change and ensuring the transition goes smoothly.

Engineers: 

Engineers are often responsible for designing and building the new systems involved with the change. If the in-house engineering staff does not already possess a deep understanding of the new technology, they may need to attend a thorough training program first—to get up to speed.  An alternative to a formal training program is to partner with a third-party company which specializes in the new platform and can provide the customized, in-house training that is crucial for success.  In many cases, such as with AWS cloud infrastructure, no additional training is required.  The transition is seamless.  

End users: 

End users are the people who will be using the new system or modernized application once it's in place. End users can be employees, suppliers, and even customers.  End users must be kept up-to-date throughout the transition process and trained on how to use the new applications and systems if required.

Making a change to an IT system can be a daunting task, and it's essential to involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process. By doing so, IT Managers ensure that everyone is on board and that there are no surprises along the way. When an IT department implements a change of any kind, it's not just about the technology—it's about the people who use that technology, too.
 

Application modernization strategies: VMs to containers or serverless

For SaaS applications that traditionally operate on Virtual Machines (VMs), there are two main strategies for modernization: containerization and cloud-based serverless platforms. Learning the pros and cons of both systems is crucial to the decision-making process.

Migration to containers

Containerization involves packaging the application into a container, which then runs on a container platform, such as Docker or Kubernetes. Containerization offers many benefits, including improved resource utilization, portability, and scalability.

One of the most significant advantages of containerization is that it allows you to run multiple applications on the same host, improving resource utilization. Meanwhile, containers are highly portable and can move easily between different hosts. This enhanced portability makes it easy to scale an application by adding more containers as needed.

Migration to serverless architecture

Serverless architectures are becoming increasingly popular, offering many more benefits than traditional architectures. With a serverless architecture, company engineers no longer need to provision or manage multiple servers because the cloud provider houses all the infrastructures. Meanwhile, serverless architectures are easily adaptable to constantly evolving workloads.

One of the primary advantages of serverless architectures is that they automatically scale to adapt to the constantly-evolving needs of your growing business.  And in most cases, serverless systems are far more cost-effective than traditional architectures.

Combo of containerizing and re-platforming

Another popular application modernization strategy is to containerize the application and move it to a serverless platform, such as AWS Lambda. This approach combines the best of both worlds—the high portability of containers and the enhanced scalability of serverless architectures.

There are many different application modernization strategies to choose from, and the best choice for the organization will depend on the specific application and workload requirements of the company. IT Managers can also implement several different strategies within the same organization— based on unique goals and objectives of the related application or workload. But in general, migrating to a serverless architecture is an excellent way to implement automatic scalability and reduce costs while containerization helps improve resource utilization and portability.
 

What happens when companies fail to modernize?

When organizations fail to modernize their IT systems, they often end up with outdated technologies that no longer meet their unique and ever-changing business demands. This scenario can lead to increased costs, decreased productivity, and a substantially diminished competitive advantage. Furthermore, antiquated technologies are often more expensive to maintain and require specialized skills that are in short supply. And don't forget, CTOs and IT Leaders who procrastinate in modernizing their systems are already losing money and their competitive advantages. 

To learn more about  application modernization, check out these case studies: 

 

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