Over the years, there have been gradual changes in the world of application development. All these changes have been happening to make the process of developing applications much more efficient and smoother. The architecture, infrastructure, and delivery methodologies of apps have been changing, and surprisingly these transformations have all been happening concurrently.
App developers and other stakeholders in the software industry have done tremendous work when it comes to innovations related to how the Apps are designed, the platforms they are run on, and lastly how they are delivered to the end-user. This gradual effort has enabled us to move from where we were to where to we are today.
In this article, we shall discuss everything you need to know about application modernization. By the end of this article, you will have learnt what application modernization is and the various transformations app development has gone through over the years.
What is application modernization?
Application Modernization (sometimes referred to as legacy modernization) involves conversion, rewriting, or porting legacy applications to a modern computer programming language, software libraries, and hardware platform. Organizations and individual developers have to adopt these newer trends of building apps to extend the lifespan of their applications without completely retiring an existing system.
The impact application modernization has had on the transformation of legacy applications, in this case, is categorized into three aspects. These are; the Architecture, infrastructure, and then application delivery. Let’s briefly discuss how these there have been changing over the years.
Application architecture refers to how the application is built, and how it interacts with other applications. The software developers and organizations previously designed entirely monolithic applications. With the monolithic architecture, the user interface of the app and the data access code were all combined into a single program running on a single platform.
This kind of architecture made the process of changing code and fixing bugs very complex. Monolithic apps are also not easily scalable because it would involve doing a lot of work just to add a couple of new features to the application.
After several years of trying to find the best way to improve application architecture, developers discovered a new way to develop apps and this was called Service Oriented Architecture (S.O.A). With this architecture, apps have distributed services that are inter-related for example web services, databases, and frontend services. So, the app isn’t one big chunk like it was with the monolithic architecture. S.O.A made scaling up and making changes to the applications much faster and cheaper.
The architecture that is very popular today and used by several organizations is the microservices architecture. This methodology structures app as a collection of small services (microservices) that are highly maintainable, testable, loosely coupled, and Independently deployable. Apps developed with this kind of architecture are easier to scale up, maintain, and update over time.
The second aspect of transformation the applications have taken is the infrastructure (machines/servers that run the applications after development). The legacy applications were running on physical servers. So, after the development process was complete, the organization had to acquire a new independent server to run that application, which was a very costly process.
Organizations, as well as app developers, later adopted the use of Virtual Machines (computers inform of software). Creating a Virtual Machine (VM) is less costly than purchasing a physical server to run or test the application. After discovering this method, almost every organization and developer migrated from running apps on physical servers to Virtual machines.
In recent years, applications are now run on the cloud after development. IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) platforms like AWS and Microsoft Azure have made it even cheaper for developers and organizations to deploy and test their apps. With these cloud platforms, one pays for only the hardware they need and for a period they decide. Running apps of these kinds of platforms makes it easier and cheaper to scale up your application.
The delivery of apps to the final users has also been changing over the years. Most legacy apps were developed using the Waterfall methodology, where several phases had to be undertaken. These involved planning for the design of the app, the app development process, and finally the testing phase. This procedure made the app development process quite lengthy and costly. It also led to shipping apps with lots of features that final users were not interested in using.
The application delivery process that came after this was the Agile development methodology. Agile software development is a technique for iterative and incremental development of applications that enhanced fast delivery and testing apps in the real world before proceeding to the next stage. Adopting this strategy significantly shortened the time needed to deliver the applications to the end-user compared to the legacy applications.
The new application development methodology that has gained popularity in recent years is DevOps. With DevOps, the software development (Dev) section works hand in hand with IT operations (Ops). This kind of app delivery takes advantage of the benefits of Agile development, but also involves other departments in the software development process, which leads to much faster app delivery.
Those are the three aspects of transformation the modernization of applications has gone through in the past years. One thing to note is how these transformations are inter-related. For example, the microservices architecture of building apps heavily relies on cloud service platforms to thrive.
All organizations out there are gradually embracing these transformations to take of the benefits they bring to the table. Applications modernization has also made scaling up of applications much easier and cheaper than it was a couple of decades back. Today, even individual developers can build their apps, test them and distribute them without incurring lots of costs.
The rapid advancement of computing technology like processing power and efficiency has also played a key role in application modernization. As computing technology gets more efficient, the cost of building apps also goes down. In the future, we expect even much more sophisticated and easier ways of building apps than what we have today. So, developers and everyone affiliated with the software development industry should be looking forward to that future.
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