The cloud-native era of application development allows for a much higher rate of iteration than previously possible with legacy application architecture. Monolithic application development lifecycles are ill-suited to the demands of hyper-growth minded businesses, with silos bottlenecking the requirements of development, QA (Quality Assurance) and operations. To meet the pace and scalability demands of today’s business climate, legacy modernization has become a necessity. The modern DevOps movement allows businesses to decouple infrastructural concerns like deployment, caching, networking, monitoring and more, leading to more efficient usage of cloud computing capabilities.
Legacy application architectures pose several challenges to business agility, especially from visibility and operational standpoints. Legacy software needs to shift from a specialist to a more generalist approach, especially when it comes to infrastructure and application lifecycle management. Decoupling a monolithic architecture to switch to microservices can put enormous strain on company finances, engineering efficiency and cross domain collaboration if not backed up with product teams practicing DevOps.
The primary challenges when it comes to application delivery without DevOps are communication, automation and bug discovery and visibility.
Challenges with legacy systems
During development, a lack of communication creates silos between development and operational teams. Oftentimes, developers have their own repository of open source tools which don’t always sync with the tools used by operational teams. The lack of communication and visibility between the two teams can cause unnecessary delays and impede continuous delivery.
Limited use of automation
A persistent lack of automation can increase the workload for the developers, bottlenecking deployment, delivery, and scaling tasks. Unoptimized processes lead to slower response times, negatively impacting the overall customer experience.
Very often, bugs are not discovered during the development phase. Without a unified integrated development environment (IDE), these bugs can cause unexpected delays once they have been deployed to the production environment.
Lack of visibility
A lack of visibility into the root cause of problems makes it difficult to identify and fix any issues in the development process. Having to go through the logs to identify problems with latency, errors, traffic and saturation can significantly delay application delivery.
Legacy systems have three fundamental pillars when it comes to delivery: the people, processes, and tools.
- Businesses attempting legacy system modernization need a cultural shift in the workplace which begins with training the people to equip them with the appropriate skills needed to manage processes in cloud-native production environments. According to a study by Gartner, 50% organizations think people issues are the biggest challenge to the expansion of the use of DevOps.
- Legacy software depends heavily on manual processes to achieve delivery timelines. Without the necessary flexibility, adding new features or changing the existing business logic can result in large-scale code changes across the project.
- Technology is the key to empowering both people and processes with automation, collaboration tools and production environments needed for better time to market. Without the right tools and technologies, legacy apps can be vulnerable to security and infrastructural issues across the development lifecycle.
That’s where DevOps can be a strategic differentiator for businesses looking to support legacy modernization initiatives.
DevOps is a strategic combination of people, processes and tools that streamlines application development, delivery and operations for high velocity performance. It enables better communication and collaboration across development and operational roles to enable agile development practices and remove silos within existing operational frameworks.
How can DevOps provide a competitive advantage towards business agility and legacy application modernization?
The DevOps approach to legacy modernization
The DevOps approach to legacy system modernization is a delicate process that consists of four key elements.
Automation of the central application architecture
Automation of manual processes is an essential aspect of the DevOps approach to legacy modernization. It’s impossible to scale without automating various tasks like testing, deployment and monitoring. Manual QA is inefficient and unreliable, and automation reduces the time and effort required to test, validate and implement changes. As a result, changes can be rolled out quickly and effectively, without requiring the intervention of people in specialist positions.
Continuous integration and continuous delivery
The primary objective of legacy application modernization is to achieve high velocity development and deployment of applications. With continuous integration between people, processes and tools, and continuous monitoring of system and application performance, DevOps allows businesses to streamline code pipeline delivery and refine the existing architecture.
Infrastructure as code (IaC)
The IaC approach allows teams to define and manage the application infrastructure using code, similar to a version-controlled artifact. This leads to decentralization of infrastructure management, leading to streamlined and decoupled change management across teams. Empowering independent infrastructure management using code also ensures consistency and reproducibility across multiple production environments.
Transformation of operational models
Apart from being a technology-driven change, legacy modernization is also a cultural shift in terms of the skills and mindset required to manage the new processes and tools. DevOps supports this change by bridging the gap between development and operations teams. It aligns all relevant stakeholders under a common vision of business transformation, leading to less resistance going forward.
The DevOps advantage lies in how effectively it sets up legacy modernization initiatives to deliver the maximum value to end users. It does so with a healthy mix of tools, practices and processes designed for agile software development and delivery.
DevOps offers a low-risk approach to legacy transformation that, if done correctly, can significantly improve productivity, reduce costs and increase deployment speeds. The basic tasks within a pure DevOps model can be accomplished by a software generalist, allowing the specialists to focus on reliability and engineering-related tasks. The product demands of today’s business climate are relentless, and DevOps helps overcome engineer scalability issues to an extent.
DevOps allows businesses to engineer rapid changes to an application to shift with changing market trends. However, it takes time and experience to design and implement a DevOps model that meets the system reliability criteria, accounts for the total number of engineers involved and satisfies the product iteration rate for the business.
Consulting seasoned professionals in this sector might make it easier to create a roadmap for rapid, controlled software delivery, automate governance into delivery pipelines and train the workforce in the skills necessary to support legacy modernization initiatives.