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Application Modernization Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you're thinking about modernizing your business or are already in the middle of a change, this article on application modernization strategy will help you reach your goals by giving you useful insights and steps you can take immediately

What is Application Modernization Strategy?

Application Modernization Strategy is a planned approach for companies to update and make their software application development updated better, so they stay useful, efficient, and scalable in today's world of technology.  

Also, in return, companies can cut costs, be more flexible, and give customers a better experience by updating their apps. 

"Our integration with the Google Nest smart thermostats through Aidoo Pro represents an unprecedented leap forward for our industry."

 - Antonio Mediato, founder and CEO of Airzone.

Benefits of an Effective Application Modernization Strategy

Modernizing your apps isn't just a way to keep up with changes in technology; it also guarantees business growth with tangible benefits. A proper application modernization strategy can

benefits of application modernization strategy
  • Cut down on operational costs: Application Modernization are often more efficient, need less upkeep, and use cloud-based solutions that can lower IT costs generally.  

  • Improve scalability and flexibility: Applications that have been updated can respond more quickly to changing business needs and can grow to handle more work. 

  • Improve the user experience: Applications that are kept up to date often work better and have more features, which makes both buyers and workers happier
  • Improved security: New technologies have better security features that help protect against today's online dangers.
  • Enable Competitive Advantage: Staying current with technology can provide a competitive edge in today's market.

"By analyzing the data from our connected lights, devices and systems, our goal is to create additional value for our customers through data-enabled services that unlock new capabilities and experiences."

- Harsh Chitale, leader of Philips Lighting’s Professional Business.

The First Step in Application Modernization Strategy – Find the Purpose!

Finding the best application modernization plan for your business will depend on your specific business goals.  

Here is a list of ten questions to get you going. 

  • What specific problems or limitations are we facing with our current applications? 
  • How can modernizing our applications align with and support our overall business objectives? 
  • What are the anticipated benefits of modernizing our applications in terms of performance, scalability, and reliability? 
  • How will application modernization affect our existing workflows and processes? 
  • What are the potential risks and challenges involved in the application modernization process? 
  • How will application modernization impact our customers and end-users? 
  • What is our budget for application modernization, and what is the expected ROI? 
  • Do we have the necessary skills and resources in-house, or do we need to seek external assistance? 
  • How will we handle data migration and integration during the modernization process? 
  • How will we measure the success of our application modernization efforts? 

Recommended Application Modernization Strategies

Here’s a glimpse of our application modernization strategy. Let's take a closer look at it. We can explore its details together.


application modernization strategy

Rehosting (Lift and Shift)

Rehosting involves moving applications to a new hardware setting without changing their structure, features, or functions.  

 It's especially helpful for businesses that want to move quickly to the cloud without having to change their code, which takes time and costs money.  

 This approach works great for your business if you need to replace your server devices, or your data centre lease is about to end.  

 By going to the cloud, businesses can get 

  • Better crisis recovery,  
  • More resilient systems,  
  • More open ways to grow. 

The global company General Electric (GE) was able to move its huge IT system to the cloud using the rehosting approach.  

GE used the lift and shift to move over 500 applications to the cloud from 2014 to 2016. This helped the company cut its total cost of ownership (TCO) by 52%. As part of its cloud transfer project, the company looked at old processes again and got rid of many of them. This not only dropped IT costs but also sped up time to market and made the company more flexible, which made it more competitive in a market that was already very tough. 

They were able to quickly improve speed, scalability, and cost-effectiveness with this rehosting approach that didn't require major changes to the application design.  
Moving to the cloud benefitted GE in the following ways: 

  • Lowered GE's data center size,  
  • Made disaster recovery better,  
  • Provided more freedom and scaling.  

This shows that rehosting works well for large-scale cloud migrations. 


Refactoring is a more in-depth method in which the application code is reorganized for better performance.  Often, this means changing the app to be more flexible and cloud-friendly, like by using a microservices design.  

This process makes things more flexible and lets businesses use all of the cloud's features, such as,  

  • Auto-scaling,  
  • Serverless computing,  
  • Dynamic load sharing.  

It works for apps that need major changes to adapt to new business needs or make operations more flexible and efficient. Refactoring can use a lot of resources, but it's worth it in the long run because it makes code more flexible, faster, and easier to manage. 

Amazon, the biggest online store in the world, switched from a centralized architecture to a microservices design as part of a refactoring plan.  

 At first, Amazon's infrastructure was built on a big, complicated system that was all one piece. This made it hard to make changes and add more resources.  

 In order to fix this, Amazon did a lot of work to break up the centralized design into small, separate apps. This change not only made their development processes more flexible and quicker, but it also made them more scalable.   

 Amazon's use of microservices made it possible for them to, 

  • Launch services separately,  
  • Grow certain functions as needed,  
  • Quickly add new features.  

This made it much easier for them to come up with new ideas and meet customer needs.  

This project to refactor was a success and shows how companies of any size can benefit from re-architecting their apps for a cloud-native setting. 


Replatforming means making small changes to apps so they can use the new platform's features without having to be rewritten from scratch or have their core design changed.  

It is made to use a cloud-based database service instead of an on-premises one. 

This method strikes a mix between the easy work of rehosting and the big changes that come with rewriting. It works well for apps that could use some cloud features but don't need to be rebuilt from scratch. 

Etsy, an online store that sells homemade and old goods, improved its application infrastructure by replatforming.  

At first, Etsy's platform was stored on real computers, which made it hard to grow and needed a lot of work to keep running.  

To fix this, Etsy chose to replatform, which means moving its website to Google Cloud and making changes to make it work best in the cloud. This meant using cloud-native database services and taking advantage of Google Cloud's analytics and machine learning tools.  

By replatforming, Etsy was able to make their system much more scalable, lower their running costs, and use advanced cloud features without having to completely rebuild their system.  

Here's why replatforming turned out to be a clear win for Etsy. 

"The ability to scale on demand. With data centers, you have to plan ahead of time, probably six or nine months ahead, to do provisioning, to purchase the hardware, to be able to install, test, and run it. On the cloud, we can do that in a significantly shorter time frame, and we can scale down after we finish.”

- Dany Daya, Senior Program Manager for cloud migration at Etsy. 

Etsy was better able to handle traffic spikes after this smart move. 

  • More than 50 percent savings in compute energy 
  • 42 percent reduction in compute costs using committed-use discounts and other optimizations 
  • 5.5 petabytes of data migrated 

 Repurchasing (Replace)

When you repurchase software, you switch to a different one, usually a new one that you can get off the shelf, like Software as a Service (SaaS).  

When the current program can't be quickly changed or updated and there is a product on the market that meets the needs of the business, this is a good approach. 

This method can improve speed, usefulness, and continued support and maintenance, but it needs to be carefully thought through in terms of the changes that will happen when changing to a new platform, such as moving data and teaching users.  

Netflix is a great example of the repurchasing method used to update applications.  

At first, Netflix ran its streaming and rental services out of a regular data center. But as the number of people wanting to watch material grew very quickly, Netflix had trouble with being able to keep up with the demand and staying reliable.  

To get rid of these problems, Netflix switched from using its own technology to using Amazon Web Services (AWS), a SaaS option that runs in the cloud. This change let Netflix use AWS's advanced cloud features, such as its ability to grow quickly, store large amounts of data securely, and improve its content delivery networks.  

“Like other home-entertainment services, Netflix has seen temporarily higher viewing and increased member growth during this unprecedented time. In order to meet this demand our control plane services needed to scale very quickly. This is where the value of AWS and our strong partnership became apparent, both in being able to meet capacity needs in compute, storage, as well as providing the necessary infrastructure, such as AWS Auto Scaling, which is deeply ingrained in Netflix’s operations model.” 

Nils Pommerien 

Director, Cloud Infrastructure Engineering, Netflix 

Moving to AWS made it easier for Netflix to handle huge amounts of data and streaming traffic, which greatly improved the reliability of their service and the user experience. This shows how well the repurchasing strategy works for changing business needs and technological advances.  


The retiring strategy involves deactivating applications that are no longer useful or necessary.  

By eliminating these applications, an organization can reduce IT complexity, lower costs, and focus resources on maintaining and modernizing applications that are critical to the business.  

This process usually involves an audit of the application portfolio to identify applications that can be turned off without impacting business operations. 

Ford Motor Company implemented the retiring strategy effectively as part of their IT modernization efforts.  

Facing a complex and costly IT environment, Ford conducted a comprehensive audit of their application portfolio and identified a significant number of legacy applications that were either underused or redundant.  

“Events of 2020 made it clear that modernization is required to be a sustainable company,” explains Jim Farley, CEO. 

By retiring these outdated systems, Ford was able to streamline their IT operations, reduce maintenance costs, and decrease the overall complexity of their IT landscape.  

This process not only resulted in financial savings but also allowed Ford to reallocate resources and focus on more strategic, value-adding IT initiatives. The retiring of these legacy applications was a key step in Ford's broader strategy to modernize their IT infrastructure and adopt more efficient, agile, and scalable technology solutions. 

“When we have the ability to update our products dynamically with software, the customer relationship is no longer episodic. It’s every day,” says Farley. 

Retaining (Revisit)

Retaining an application as-is for the time being is a viable strategy when an application is stable and meets current business needs. However, it has to be modernized in the future.  

This approach is often taken due to budget constraints, other prioritized initiatives, or when the cost and effort of modernizing do not currently justify the benefits. It involves monitoring and maintaining the application while planning for potential future modernization. 

 The New York Times provides a relevant example of the retaining strategy in application modernization.  

As a leading news organization, The New York Times has a vast digital archive of articles and multimedia content. While they have been proactive in modernizing many aspects of their digital presence, certain parts of their archival system have been retained in their original form.  

This decision was made because these systems, despite being older, continue to meet their current requirements for archival storage and access.  

The New York Times prioritizes modernizing customer-facing systems and other critical infrastructure that directly impact reader experience and operational efficiency.  

By retaining their archival system as-is, they can focus resources and budget on areas where modernization is immediately required. At the same time, they can also keep it open to update the archival system in the future.  


Encapsulation involves exposing an application’s features or data through an API without altering the application’s code. This strategy allows older systems to interact with newer applications and services, extending their life and functionality.  

It’s particularly useful for leveraging the business logic of legacy systems while interfacing with modern applications and services. 

Bank of America offers a clear example of successfully implementing the encapsulation strategy.  

As a financial institution with a long history, Bank of America possessed numerous legacy systems crucial for their operations but outdated in terms of technology.  

To modernize their services without overhauling these systems, the bank chose to encapsulate the core functionalities of these legacy systems by exposing their features and data through APIs.  

This approach enabled them to integrate these older systems with newer, more modern banking applications and platforms, enhancing customer experience and service capabilities.  

By doing so, Bank of America could leverage the reliability and established business logic of their legacy systems while providing customers with the benefits of digital banking innovations, such as mobile banking apps and online transaction services.  

This encapsulation strategy allowed the bank to maintain the integrity of their core systems while adapting to the evolving demands of the digital age.

Also Read  :  6 Trends in Enterprise Application Development


Containerization is the process of packaging an application and its dependencies into a container that can run consistently on any infrastructure.  

 This strategy is highly beneficial for  

  • Enhancing application portability,  
  • Simplifying deployment processes,  
  • Ensuring consistency across different development, testing, and production environments.  

Containerization is often used in tandem with microservices architectures to create highly scalable and resilient applications. It's particularly valuable in cloud environments where rapid scaling and resource optimization are important. 

Spotify, the leading music streaming service, implemented containerization in their application modernization efforts.  

As Spotify's user base and service offerings expanded, they encountered challenges in scaling their operations and maintaining application consistency across various environments.  

To address these challenges, Spotify adopted containerization, using Docker containers and Kubernetes for orchestration.  

This shift allowed Spotify to package their applications and dependencies into containers, which could be deployed consistently across different environments. Containerization facilitated seamless scaling and management of their services, improved the efficiency of development and deployment processes, and enhanced overall application performance and reliability.  

By integrating containerization into their system, Spotify was able to better manage their complex microservices architecture, ensuring a smooth and reliable streaming experience for millions of users worldwide. 

We wanted to benefit from added velocity and reduced cost, and also align with the rest of the industry on best practices and tools."— JAI CHAKRABARTI, DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING, INFRASTRUCTURE AND OPERATIONS, SPOTIFY 

Why Should you choose an Application Modernization Strategy Partner for Your Business?

Selecting a partner for application modernization can help you,  

  • Accelerate the process,  
  • Reduce risks,  
  • Ensure the modernization aligns with industry standards.  

A partner brings expertise, experience, and resources that might not be available in-house, facilitating a smoother and more effective modernization journey.

How Can you choose the right Application Modernization Strategy Partner for Your Business?

Here's a checklist to help guide you in making the best decision for your business: 

Evaluate Expertise and Experience: 

  • Look for partners with a proven track record in application modernization. 
  • Assess their experience with technologies relevant to your project (e.g., cloud platforms, microservices, containerization).

Check References and Case Studies: 

  • Request and review case studies or success stories of past projects. 
  • Contact references to get firsthand feedback on the partner's performance and reliability. 

Understand Their Approach and Methodology: 

  • Ensure their modernization approach aligns with your business needs and goals. 
  • Check if they have a structured process for assessment, planning, execution, and testing. 

Assess Compatibility with Your Technology Stack: 

  • Verify if the partner has expertise in the technologies you currently use or plan to adopt. 
  • Consider their ability to work with your existing infrastructure and systems. 

Consider Cultural Fit and Communication: 

  • Choose a partner whose company culture aligns with yours. 
  • Evaluate their communication skills and responsiveness.

Also Read : The Strategic Advantage of Hiring a Dedicated Development Team

Look at Their Security and Compliance Standards: 

  • Ensure the partner adheres to industry-standard security practices. 
  • Check their compliance with relevant regulations in your industry. 

Evaluate Support and Maintenance Capabilities: 

  • Ask about their support and maintenance services post-deployment. 
  • Ensure they offer adequate training and knowledge transfer. 

Assess Scalability and Future-Proofing: 

  • Consider if they can scale their services to match your future growth. 
  • Check if they stay updated with the latest technologies and practices. 

Review Contract Terms and SLAs: 

  • Carefully read the contract terms, including deliverables, timelines, and costs. 
  • Ensure clear service level agreements (SLAs) are in place. 

Consider Cost and ROI: 

  • Analyze the cost structure and ensure it aligns with your budget. 
  • Assess the potential return on investment (ROI) from the modernization effort. 

 Remember, the right partner should not only have the technical capability but also understand your business context and be committed to helping you achieve your long-term goals. 

Partner with Softura – The US-Based Application Modernization Company

Softura, an established leader in app modernization services, has been driving innovation for over 25 years. As a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner, we bring a depth of proven expertise to every project, ensuring that your legacy systems are transformed into modern, scalable applications. 

With a dedicated team of over 450 engineers, we specialize in agile methodologies to ensure flexibility and adaptability throughout the modernization process. 

 Key attributes of Softura’s app modernization services include: 

  • Accelerated transformation processes ensuring quick and efficient system upgrades. 
  • Adoption of modern architectures like microservices and containerization to enhance scalability and maintainability. 
  • Hybrid approach combining onshore and offshore development teams to optimize resources and costs. 
  • Customized solutions designed to meet the specific needs of your business. 
  • Continuous improvement with biweekly sprints led by experienced Scrum Masters. 

Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our experts and receive a customized app modernization plan designed to drive your business forward. 

Looking for a reliable application modernization?

Look no further than Softura – we can make your app idea into a wholly working app with tech-driven features.

© 2024 Softura - All Rights Reserved
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