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App Modernisation Is All About Cloud And Resetting What You Know

App modernisation is all about cloud and resetting what you know

The great mistake that companies often make with cloud migrations is to lift and shift an on-premise application and think the job is done. There may be gains with better security and reduced maintenance, but simply replicating what you had on premise is a wasted opportunity. It’s a little like the first moves to virtualisation over a decade ago, when IT teams took a while to get past the one server for one application way of doing things. They struggled to understand the best way to use the technology and created a lot of virtual sprawl. It’s now taking a little time to get to grips with what the cloud can do.

Perhaps the best way I can illustrate it is to talk about an application modernisation project we did for Uniphar, the pharma/medtech company. Quite a small project on the face of it, but it’s one that delivered greater value than the client expected because we were able to use Microsoft Azure to transform how it worked.

Refactored with Azure services

The app was an on-premise electronic proof-of-delivery system that the IT team was looking to decommission. It was taking up too much storage and running on a Windows SQL Server 2008 database that was out of date and unsupported, which made it a security risk. As you will see from the case study, it had to be modernised rather than replaced because it was storing documents that still needed to be accessed occasionally, and it had to be kept secure to meet EU data retention requirements. What we did highlights how to take advantage of new technology to make old technology work better.

The application was reformatted to leverage Azure features and functionality. Because the database was rarely accessed, it’s now run as a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) workload, using slow and more affordable storage, while the web application server at the front end has been tuned into an IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) solution. Essentially, an SQL archive has been refactored on Azure using IaaS and PaaS platforms. It’s a way of running the application that was unimaginable when it was originally designed. Not only is it more secure and cost effective, it also delivers on other cloud benefits – it’s easier to access and integrate with other solutions if needed.

Repurposed with specialist skills

There is a lesson here for every organisation weighing up what to do with legacy apps causing more trouble than they’re worth. A first red flag is often a spike in maintenance costs, leading to lengthy fixes from highly paid specialists. Worse still, the legacy system is saddled with so much technical debt that no-one knows how it works except the long-departed software engineer who deployed it.

Something might seem impossible to modify, update and integrate, until you look at it through a cloud lens. Modernisation is often about going back to basics on what an app is doing and finding new ways to do it better. So reset what you know and think about cloud platform capabilities before you pull the plug and order a replacement.

The Uniphar example highlights how even a simple database solution can be reimagined. To be fair, it was also about a sophisticated re-engineering job, carried out by Kevin Greene, an Ergo engineer and MVP (Most Valuable Professional), the highest skills accreditation that Microsoft awards. The reality is that refactoring old applications in the cloud calls for technical specialisations that few IT departments will have time to develop. Ergo, by contrast, has a business model predicated on keeping ahead of the curve. We have tried and tested processes around application modernisation. We will work through an iterative engagement process following Azure best-practice migration methodologies. Crucially for clients , we workshop everything, so they know exactly what to expect at the end of a project and a knowledge transfer process ensures they can run it on their own.

So if you are struggling to know what to do with any piece of legacy, talk to Ergo. It might have a lot more life in it than you think. Discover more about our Application Modernisation services here.

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