Technical data

A guide to sustainable application modernization

Sustainable development is a model of societal growth that is applied worldwide to balance the needs of the present while optimizing for the future. Sustainability consists of three pillars – economic, environmental and social – which must work together to achieve this goal. The complexities of digital transformation and application modernization can benefit from applying a sustainability lens to this challenge that includes not only the technical benefits of cloud computing, but, more broadly, the three Ps of sustainability: profit, people and planet. Application modernization will benefit the business in measurable ways, but may also affect the unexpected benefits of cultural and green initiatives.

Sustainable Application Modernization: What is it?

Sustainable development initiatives have always had to take a holistic approach that combines human, ecological and economic health and vitality. Sustainable application modernization is no different as business leaders manage limited resources (budget, staff, and time) that must be applied now to align with longer-term priorities and their associated consequences. . The primary goal of application modernization is to transform an enterprise’s monolithic applications into modern architectures that can take full advantage of cloud-native services such as containers, microservices, serverless, and a range of DevOps methodologies. These technical capabilities lead to a number of high-value cloud benefits, including scalability, elasticity, and engineering agility. Too many modernization strategies and business plans stop there and that’s a mistake. By undervaluing the benefits of sustainability, including economic, environmental, and human benefits, technology business leaders are missing some of the most important benefits of modernization.

Breaking down the problem of modernization into the three pillars of sustainability helps define sustainable application modernization:

• Economic sustainability: The business benefits of modernization should factor in more features and fixes being released more frequently, less downtime, reduced technical debt, and higher rates of innovation.

• Environmental sustainability: A modern architecture is more resource-efficient, scales at a much finer level than a monolith, and is able to take advantage of cloud data centers that offer the “highest efficiency of aggregate compute resources.” These cloud-native architectures enable smarter application orchestration and use of resource allocation based on demand, needs, cost, seasonality, and performance.

• Social sustainability: Besides the ongoing challenge of recruiting and retaining talent to maintain a monolith, the resulting development team structure is a direct reflection of the architecture itself, and this is also most often monolithic. A more domain-centric approach using modern technologies creates leaner, more focused team topologies that can also work effectively in remote work structures.

The broader benefits and impacts of effective application modernization align directly with the metrics associated with elite performers in DevOps research reports that track four key performance categories: frequency of application deployments, time to implement application functionality, change failure rates, and recovery time. This long-running, annual research report on DevOps Metrics Research and Evaluation (DORA) also goes beyond the business and technical dimensions into performance, culture, people, burnout, and business impacts. teams of these modern best practices.

Application Modernization Isn’t Just an IT Problem

Most application modernization projects never fully get off the ground because technology leaders view modernization as just an IT problem. Business cases for these projects focus on technical benefits or simple cloud migration and lift-and-shift infrastructure cost improvements. A methodology for the development of sustainable applications opens this calculation to the three dimensions of sustainability: economic, environmental and social.

Just as everyone from developing countries to the world’s wealthiest nations views sustainability initiatives along these lines – balancing economic growth, environmental health, and the vitality of their citizenship – app modernization projects can be a catalyst for major improvements that drive profits, maximize efficiency while improving company culture, retention and team growth.

Sustainable Application Modernization: Three Steps to Getting Started

Enthusiasm for application modernization is high, but organizational precedent and a history of failed efforts stop most projects before they start. These three steps can put you on a sustainable path in the future.

  • Start with a data-driven plan: A monolithic application architecture requires a quantitative understanding of the technical debt you carry at the architectural level; moving to a cloud-native architecture unlocks the business, environmental, and cultural benefits discussed above. Assessing your application fleet from an architectural perspective is therefore critical to calculating the complexity and risk associated with your applications, prioritizing which applications to modernize, and extracting ROI benefits from the effort to modernize. modernization.
  • Build a broad coalition across the pillars: A sustainable application modernization plan is based on three pillars that cover different roles, functions and initiatives within an organization. This strategy creates both an opportunity and a need to recruit outside of the technology team for the business and product owners who can validate and then promote economic benefits. Then, attract green initiatives and corporate sustainability representation that can further quantify and promote environmental benefits. Finally, HR, training, and project management experts will understand and align with the human side of modernization to create more agile, happier, and more effective teams.
  • Create a culture of continuous modernization: This approach is designed to maximize short-term benefits while optimizing for the future. It is essential to consider this as an ongoing and ongoing best practice that is rooted both technically and culturally. Most modernization strategies have resulted in one-off projects that, even if completed, can quickly revert to bloated monoliths due to a lack of cultural and organizational commitment to take these practices forward and iterate across them. applications in the future.

Sustainable application modernization methodologies can change the course of application development within an organization and provide a catalyst toward a thriving future that advances technology and can maximize value for the business, environment, and culture. of business.