The pace of today’s technological development can be a double-edged sword. The right apps can help your organization establish a competitive edge, but keeping up with the rapid advancement of software can make it harder and harder to maintain that edge once you’ve got it. These days it’s not uncommon to find entire DevOps teams devoted to ensuring that IT remains agile and everyone is equipped with optimal software solutions.
One of the resources in the DevOps toolkit is application modernization. App modernization is a process whereby software that might fall short of today’s system requirements (also known as legacy applications) is enabled to run in up-to-date app environments and handle modern workloads.
This article is for anyone new to the concept of application modernization and is contemplating Microsoft Azure as a potential route to achieving that goal. It also speaks to anyone trying to determine if a full-scale modernization effort is necessary for their existing applications and whether it’s suited to their business needs.
First, we’ll take a brief look at the primary candidates for application modernization. Then we’ll dive into what’s typically involved in software modernization or rearchitecting initiatives. We’ll wrap up by considering available alternatives to software redevelopment that could be easier, faster, and less expensive than Azure migration.
Who Needs Application Modernization?
First things first: App modernization means different things to different audiences.
For some, it’s about breathing new life or bringing new functionality to the software they license or have purchased from external vendors. For others, application modernization is about taking the software they develop in-house or offer to other organizations and imbuing it with new modes of access and scalability.
Some of the typical candidates for app modernization include:
- Cloud enablers: These companies are using legacy Windows software that lacks web app functionality altogether. However, their end-users need cloud access to their existing applications. The hurdle here involves making cloud-native applications out of software that isn’t natively enabled for use with standard cloud platforms.
- Feature enhancers: Some companies might be working with a legacy version of a Windows app that has already been web-enabled, only to discover that the web application doesn’t have the feature set they need. For these organizations, the main concern is getting desktop-class applications to their users without the usual desktop dependencies.
- ISVs: On the other side of the equation are independent software vendors (ISVs – see an example like ProSolutions) who develop and sell their software solutions. These businesses want to web-enable their software to offer their customers a SaaS version. But they quickly realize that the application development effort needed to turn legacy software into cloud solutions is time-consuming and expensive—and it still might not deliver the desired customer experience.
All three of these examples fall under the more extensive digital transformation process, which is about taking analog processes and legacy software and turning both into streamlined, cost-effective modern applications.
Modernizing Legacy Applications with Microsoft Azure
If your app modernization strategy centers around Microsoft Azure, you have a couple of options. The most popular of these options involve the cloud platform’s serverless infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), or containers-as-a-service (CaaS) offerings.
It’s easy to get deep into the weeds when discussing the differences between these options, so we’ll cover some of the basics here:
- The Azure App Service is an HTTP-based service designed for hosting web applications, REST APIs, and mobile backends. With this suite of tools, you can take code based on different application architectures (e.g., .NET, Java, Ruby, Node.js, PHP) and rework it into what is essentially an Azure application.
- For applications that use SQL servers, the Azure SQL Database is a cloud infrastructure alternative to on-premises datacenters. Instead of rearchitecting SQL-dependent software from scratch, some organizations might see added business value in migrating to this cloud-based solution.
- Microsoft’s Azure Database Migration Service can help import existing SQL database(s) to the Azure SQL Managed Instance (PaaS) or SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines (IaaS). Organizations can also leverage this same cloud migration service with non-SQL databases, such as moving MongoDB on-premises to the Azure Cosmos DB API.
- Azure DevOps provides a range of developer services and microservices intending to support dedicated enterprise-class DevOps teams. With access to features like Azure Pipelines and Azure Repos, those teams can strategize, collaborate, build and deploy cloud-native applications.
- As detailed in this article, Microsoft now offers an Azure Migrate: App Containerization tool that allows organizations to put apps in standalone virtual “bubbles” that include all necessary dependencies. These apps are powered in part by the Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) or the Azure App Service (AAS). As of this writing, the containerization tool supports ASP.NET applications and a limited set of Java web applications.
None of these options is for the faint of heart. One glance at any diagram in those linked articles shows the complex tangle of microservices and backends involved in simple Azure cloud migration.
And any mention of “easy” clearly has to be taken into context. Sure, it might be easy for the IT professional who’s steeped in software refactoring, Windows server programming, and managed services. But even with a highly skilled DevOps team at your disposal, your organization is looking at a significant investment of time and money just to move a single legacy application to the cloud.
Furthermore, a seamless Azure migration experience still doesn’t guarantee that your newly rearchitected web application will retain all the functionality and availability that your end-users or customers will expect.
Alternatives for Accelerating Microsoft App Modernization
Cameyo’s virtual application delivery (VAD) platform puts powerful, straightforward application modernization tools into everyone’s hands. Any organization, including ISVs, can transform existing software into SaaS-enabled web applications overnight. The reason it’s so quick, easy, and cost-effective is that there’s zero redevelopment or rearchitecting required.
How Cameyo works is simple. It makes legacy applications running in standard Windows server environments accessible to users via any HTML5-capable web browser. By initiating an HTTPS-encrypted session through that browser, users can interact with their familiar desktop software just as if they were running it on their local device. Cameyo’s secure, platform-agnostic approach means they can enjoy the complete feature set and performance of their business-critical desktop software, even on slim mobile devices and Chromebooks.
With Cameyo, ProSolutions Software modernized its spa and salon management software suite for more than 1,200 customers at a considerable savings of time, money, and headache.
According to ProSolutions COO Mark Wiggins, “We received a quote that told us it would cost between $3–5 million to redevelop our platform for the web, and it would take 12–18 months. And in the end, it would likely only have had around 80% feature parity with our existing version. There was no way we were going to pay millions of dollars, only to provide our customers with less functionality than they were used to.”
The European enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions provider Vantea SMART faced a similar problem.
“Redeveloping our solutions for the web would have taken at least one year and would have cost a minimum of $250,000 – and probably much more. At the end of the day, we needed a simpler and more cost-effective way to deliver the desktop experience that our customers are used to, through the browser instead of an installed app,” said Leonardo Nuzzo, Team Leader, Research & Development at Vantea SMART.
Cameyo was key to turning the company’s entire suite of solutions for business operations, accounting, logistics, digital storage management, point of sale, and eCommerce into modern web applications within a single week.
Zero-redevelopment App Modernization for ISVs and Beyond
ProSolutions and Vantea SMART aren’t alone. Moblize and Tático ERP achieved similar results by pairing their existing applications with Cameyo to reach new levels of scalability and availability while satisfying their customers’ evolving business needs.
If you’re an ISV who wants to take your software into the cloud without compromising the customer experience or sinking more resources into digital transformation, Cameyo could be the ideal application modernization solution. Check out all that our VAD platform can do for you—all the way from the trial phase to ongoing managed services.