Does application modernisation mean what you think it means?

Most people in IT probably think they know what application modernisation is. For many it involves application refactoring – rebuilding the app using technologies such as containers and microservices to make it cloud-native. This is the version you tend to hear about at conferences, whether they’re developer-based ones such as KubeCon, or are more infrastructure admin-oriented like VMware Explore (VMworld, as-was).

For other IT professionals – for example, we recently briefed with distributed SQL specialist Yugabyte – it starts with getting the data layer right. Rip out your old silo’d database technology and slide in something more modern and flexible, and you can get more scalability and performance without having to refactor just yet.

And then, moving down through the layers, there’s the underlying storage. As we discovered when we researched modernising the database stack specifically, ensuring you have the most appropriate storage technology in place – and refreshing your storage layer if not – can be the simplest, fastest and most powerful way to boost application performance.

The reality, of course, is that all of the above can be true. Indeed, focusing on re-platforming a single layer may give good results, and may be more than enough to get you out of a performance hole. There’s an overwhelming number of re-platforming options and layers, though. How do you pick which to update, without making assumptions that could restrict you in the future?

To really understand application modernisation, you need to turn the question around. Instead of looking first at specific layers and then at the available options for change, look at your needs and capabilities – including skills and budgets, of course – and at where you need to change. Where is the pain most keenly felt? How quickly do you need to improve things? Which options will give you the greatest flexibility for the future and the best cost-time benefits?

And perhaps most importantly, what really matters to your users and stakeholders, both internal and external?

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