Application Modernization is increasingly needed by companies engaged in digitization processes, which necessarily push towards the implementation of multicloud environments. The real challenge remains how to correctly deal with the evolution of the application park, to obtain the desired performance, accelerate project returns and avoid unforeseen costs.
Andrea Casiraghi, Software Solutions area Manager of Beta 80, explains the methods for effective modernization, underlining the importance of having an experienced partner to support the initiatives.
Modernizing applications, for cloud environments
"When an organization decides to modernize the corporate data center - says Casiraghi - to overcome a problem of technological obsolescence, for example, or to recover efficiency, thanks to as-a-service architectures, it can choose various options, which require careful evaluation".
In summary, the least drastic way is the evolution of on-premise systems with the replacement of older technologies and towards private cloud solutions; the next step concerns adherence to the public models of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), with resources that are used by the remote CEDs of suppliers within consumption contracts.
In particular, the choice of PaaS forces a radical rethinking of application development, oriented towards containerization and serverless approaches.
For clarity, while the IaaS model makes available only the infrastructure assets (i.e. computing, storage and network equipment) to the customer, PaaS offers a complete computing environment equipped with a solution stack where to develop, test, implement and maintain applications.
Going on with the definitions, containers are instead virtual instances of a complete runtime environment, where microservices (the functional units that make up modern applications) can run independently of the underlying infrastructure. Compared to a virtual machine that represents the instance of a complete physical server (therefore with the hardware and software components), the container virtualizes only the execution environment, while the underlying and enabling system is real and shared.
"By resorting to containers and related orchestration services - declares Casiraghi -, both computational resources and the scalability of applications can be optimized. In fact, managing the computing power for microservices means having independent units available that can be replicated horizontally as the demand for resources increases or the complexity of the application workflow increases, without intervening on the code".
From Lift&Shift to refactoring, how to proceed with application modernization
If the new development approaches allow the design of applications optimized for cloud ecosystems, older software does not offer the same performance guarantees.
"Traditional applications - Casiraghi suggests -, designed to run on on-premise servers that do not have connectivity constraints, bandwidth persistence and number of requests, can show severe limits in cloud environments. For example: lack of efficiency, reduced performance, lower perceived quality, higher costs".
This is why sometimes a simple migration is not enough, but it becomes necessary to intervene on the structure of the applications. A competent and referenced partner such as Beta 80 can facilitate the initial analysis phase and suggest the best modernization paths.
"Once the assessment has been completed - says Casiraghi -, we propose to the client a series of actions aimed at correcting the priority critical issues, touching only later on the nice-to-have aspects. The goal is to evaluate whether a Lift&Shift solution (i.e. the migration of applications to the cloud, without code changes, ed.) is actually feasible, without hidden costs and performance problems arising ".
As Casiraghi argues, if the majority of customers start from a Lift&Shift situation, in the presence of hybrid or full-cloud ecosystems, the suggestion is rather to proceed with the refactoring of applications, which allows them to take advantage of the most modern software techniques development (from microservices to the serverless approach), keeping the functionality unchanged. "The use of containerization services – says Casiraghi - will allow not only the scalability of applications but also full operation in multicloud environments".
Beta 80's consulting approach to application modernization
Casiraghi goes on to describe Beta 80's end-to-end methodological and technological approach as a guide in application modernization projects. "In summary - clarifies the manager -, once the cluster of applications on which to focus attention has been identified, the necessary interventions are arranged following the best practices of software development. The results obtained are then monitored and, if necessary, targeted optimization interventions are proposed, pushing in the direction of PaaS and DevOps".
According to Casiraghi, the DevOps methodology, which allows the agile and fast development of software, based on the close collaboration between IT and Business, must be among the fundamental skills of a partner for application modernization. Microservices and containerization, in fact, are inextricably linked with the principles and objectives of agile design, favoring the capacity and speed of response of Information Systems to business requests.
Highly specialized on the issues of DevOps, Beta 80 boasts other important features to support companies in the evolution of the data center and of the application park. "First of all - concludes Casiraghi - we have extensive knowledge on the technologies on the market, so we are able to suggest to the customer the most functional mix of solutions to their needs, with a truly consultative approach. Furthermore, we count a high number of references and projects carried out in the field of application modernization. Finally, we can offer all the guarantees of a consolidated know-how, thanks to the many certifications achieved and the partnerships with vendors, from Microsoft and AWS, for their cloud solutions to the smallest local suppliers".