Platform modernization: trends and realities

Posted by Success Software Services

“Accelerate digital business or risk the survival of the organization.” - Smarter With Gartner, September 2020

Many organizations have taken Gartner’s warning to heart. A study by McKinsey shows that the pandemic increased the rate of digitization by seven years. The leap was even greater in developed Asia - ten years.

Digital transformation is without a doubt a reality, not a trend. But, while Gartner’s ultimatum is stark, the changes underpinning this shift offer more than survival.

Platform modernization in particular is a process rich with opportunity. It can support business agility, innovation, automation, and continuous value delivery.

Here we look at some of its key trends and why it’s valuable to consider them in combination.

Platform modernization is more than ‘lift and shift’

Most leaders know the basic definition of platform modernization:

Updating your legacy infrastructure and applications in line with modern standards. And using the latest in enterprise architecture for new application development.

Yet this ‘lift-and-shift’ definition belies a lot of complexity and nuance. It ignores the culture and process changes required for responsive software delivery.

So beyond keeping up with the market, why would you embrace platform modernization? Because you can:

  • Improve the customer experience. You can streamline the user experience by retooling your front and backend systems. And the ability to rapidly iterate keeps you aligned with customer expectations.
  • Enable rapid data transfer, maximize security measures, and respond to changes in compliance. And all this ensures you don’t appear in headlines for the wrong reasons.
  • Build scalable technologies to pursue business growth and compete with disruptive start-ups. You can optimize cost, speed to market, and volume of new digital experiences.

5 trends of platform modernization

So, what are the trends unlocking these competitive benefits? Of course, platform modernization is often associated with a move to the cloud. While not essential, cloud-native applications do facilitate easier scalability and potential cost efficiencies.

“Understanding of ‘cloud-native’ varies, but it has significant potential benefits over traditional, monolithic application design, such as scalability, elasticity and agility. It is also strongly associated with the use of containers.” Michael Warrilow, research vice president at Gartner.

This association leads us to our first significant trend.

  1. Widespread containerization

Containerization involves packaging software code and dependencies into lightweight executable spin-ups.

Technologies like Kubernetes bundle up hardware requirements to run a microservice. This means you can deploy them to virtual servers with minimal setup. This makes it easier to scale applications up and down if you need redundancy across regions.

Given these benefits, it’s little surprise this trend is already well established. Gartner estimates 90 percent of global organizations will be running containerized applications by 2026.

  1. The use of microservices in application architecture

Using microservices means refactoring applications into small, coupled functions. The point being, these functions become independent of each other.

Teams can therefore develop and test updates to microservices rather than entire apps. So, businesses can deploy faster and reduce time to market.

Other benefits include ease of scalability, improved fault isolation, and ease of life cycle management.

  1. DevSecOps

Reducing the risk of bugs and security issues post-deployment helps save money in the long run. Yes, containerization and microservices offer their own cost efficiencies. But, they're often negated if processes aren't adjusted alongside them.

DevSecOps focuses on effective processes for secure, agile software delivery. And for this reason DevSecOps skills are critical to successful platform modernization.

This approach not only reduces the risk of bugs and security issues post-deployment. It also builds in application and infrastructure security from the start of your development cycles. This means true cost-effective software delivery.

  1. Mobile-first as a transformative approach

Post-pandemic, many organizations woke up to the transformative nature of a mobile-first approach. Why?

The pandemic accelerated digitization of customer interactions by three years, according to McKinsey. In Asia-Pacific it was as much as four years. There has also been an irreversible move to remote working.

Combined, these present a challenge to businesses: adopt mobile-first as a strategic mindset or fail. You have to meet people where they are or they won’t use your product.

  1. The dominance of UX for enterprise

This shift to a reliance on non-desktop devices also catapulted UX for enterprise into the limelight. Not only do apps need to be designed with mobile in mind - they have to help people do their work.

Since then, global economic turbulence has further increased focus on productivity. And along side that, the role of employee experience in retaining key talent. For these reasons, getting enterprise UX right offers a critical competitive advantage.

Doing so requires careful thought, however. You must consider information prioritization, workflow analysis, and ease of navigation. And all alongside strict security and compliance requirements.

The right approach is a strategic approach

“Today's CEOs know that the effective management and exploitation of information and Digital Transformation are key factors to business success, and indispensable means to achieving competitive advantage.” - The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)

Platform modernization is vital if you want to meet evolving customer expectations. It’s also an opportunity to gain an edge over your competitors.

To realize these benefits, however, you need to take a strategic approach, championed top-down. And that means tackling culture change as well as practical platform changes.

If you’d like to talk to a team that knows where to start, reach out to Success Software Services today.

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