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Plotting the Monolithic to Microservices Optimization Path
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Rafi Adinandra
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The chances are good that your business has monolithic applications that were once simple, lightweight, and easy to manage. That is, until they grew, and it became difficult, if not impossible, to implement new functionalities and scalability. Now they’re bloated, sluggish and difficult (if not impossible) to manage and update.

Most organizations are considering or have started down the path to transformation from monolithic to microservices. Fifty-six percent of non-users plan to implement microservices in the next two years, while 78 percent of users will expand their use according to a recent IBM study. This blog provides a basic outline of what to expect in plotting that path for non-users.

We’ve explored the differences between monolithic and microservices in-depth in an earlier blog. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the most important steps and decisions in moving from monolithic models to microservices. If you want to compete in the digital age, you’ll need cloud-based application architecture that supports:

  • Strategic innovation
  • Better functionality and services for end users and customer experiences
  • Scalability and agility to meet changing market needs and opening new markets
  • Scalability to support changing end user and customer needs

It’s all about being prepared to deliver specific business outcomes today and tomorrow. To get on the right path, you should start with a look at your internal skill sets and expertise along with detailed existing application understanding.

Checking Internal IT skills, Expertise and Application Makeup

Making any monolithic to microservices application migration and transformation decisions must start with an understanding of your current apps on a code and dependency level. You may have the IT personnel (developers and engineers among them) on hand with the time and the expertise to do this job. That doesn’t mean they have the expertise or time for the migration and transformation stage.

We’ve discussed the different types of application migration on this blog and why only the most business-critical applications are among the best candidates for a cloud-native architecture makeover. To determine this, you need to map your current applications for dependencies and how they interact with any infrastructure carrying a lot of technical debt. To guide you on the path of this part of the journey, you should answer some vital questions:

  • Do you have the internal IT expertise and personnel to spare for a monolithic to microservices application migration?
  • Defining specific desired business outcomes like lower costs, or any combination of greater innovation, scalability, service, or business agility through the application

It’s vital that you take a deeper look at these aspects in conjunction with application mapping as part of a detailed migration plan focused on outcomes. This gives you the foundation needed to develop a defined cost benefit analysis. You will also have the direction you need to determine what applications will benefit from modernization and migration. That will include an understanding of what type of modernization path is best for each one.

You already understand that monolithic applications contain all the functions within the codebase, along with many interdependencies. The result is that this makes it challenging to:

  • Work on and isolate individual functions
  • Make minor changes without taking the whole application offline
  • Work on changes across multiple development teams

The challenges of moving from a monolithic application to microservices are many. Sixty-five percent of respondents agree that it’s a complex transformation process, according to Statista. Many companies without prior experience in this transformation process can find they get bogged down in the countless steps.

This often increases time and cost with undefined ROI when you’re trying to deal with technical debt of legacy apps and infrastructure and integrating it with cloud-based architectures. At Techolution, we’ve developed a leapfrog approach to application modernization. This approach enables you to bypass a rip-and-replace approach that is not cost effective or even workable for most enterprises.

Some applications do not demand a full cloud-native refactoring such as those on-prem apps that you can migrate to a SaaS solution. There are also those applications that can benefit from infrastructure automation to migrate the app to VMs in the cloud. Both approaches are ideal for low business value applications because they bring justifiable cost and time outlays. They also reduce technical implementation complexity while enabling increased scalability and new business/ services practices.

Containerization can also bring many benefits through re-platforming some applications with necessary business value. This can enable new versioning of OS and database, along with minor application code changes for base platform services use.

The Path to Cloud-Native Through Serverless or Managed Infrastructure

The move from a monolithic on-prem application to a cloud-native architecture is called refactoring or re-architecting. This has traditionally required extensive code rewriting of the application and costly infrastructure updates to legacy debt-laden infrastructure.

By taking a leapfrog approach as proposed by Techolution, enterprises can avoid those time and cost outlays by creating a platform that integrates legacy and cloud architectures. This sets the stage for creating cloud-native applications that take advantage of microservices.

Microservices are most often created by using open-source services made up of an API layer, compute resources, and data storage. This becomes a fully functioning and independent unit that is easily managed and changed over time

The Importance of an Experienced Application Migration Partner

Even the largest enterprises with large IT organizations face many challenges of transforming their applications from a monolith to a microservices architecture. We’ve discussed the most intractable challenges, such as sufficient in-house personnel, time, and expertise. But there is also the challenge of understanding each step and creating a holistic approach to application modernization that focuses on specific business outcomes.

Non-IT business stakeholders often have a disconnect between the technology needs and a clear business outcomes roadmap. That disconnect can make it challenging for any IT shop to deliver effective transformation. The right application modernization partner will bring the expertise in developing a holistic approach that starts with supporting IT leaders in guiding business stakeholders in the development of clear business outcomes.

They can then support plan development that shows clear connections between the IT initiative and achieving those business outcomes to gain stakeholder consensus and buy in. Techolution specializes in providing the end to end or fractional expertise for application modernization, cloud management, and app development to ensure a holistic approach to planning, education implementation, and post-implementation outcomes.

Moving from an unwieldy and unyielding monolithic on-prem application to a new cloud-native application has many benefits, including:

  • Composability that supports autonomous and concurrent development by groups of developers
  • Faster time to market via advanced automation and codebases that are split into manageable services
  • Faster updates and new services pushed to customers
  • Bypassing the need to understand the complexities of the original monolith codebase and avoid changes that could bring down the entire application

Application modernization and cloud management partners that are skilled in the use and implementation of low-code platforms and open-source tools can bring additional benefits to the process, including:

  • Cost and time reduction of API generation for legacy technology by using low code platforms and auto-generated APIs
  • Integrated UI/UX experts and development teams for better functionality and user experience
  • Data cleansing, migration, and synchronization expertise through API use

The right partner should also bring proven expertise in delivering:

  • The necessary business and IT cultural change support for ongoing API-driven microservices use and future implementation support
  • Microservices functionality support for defining the breakdown of monolithic services
  • Incremental rollout planning of monolithic migration and application modernization to cloud-native for meeting business needs and budgets over time
  • An effective testing strategy that includes comprehensive integration or migration authentication or authorization functionalities of legacy databases
  • Deep understanding and working knowledge of all three major cloud providers to help partners maximize the benefits of the current chosen provider or help transition to a different provider that better suits the project needs

Techolution has become the partner of choice for many enterprises, businesses organizations, and startups by applying all these approaches to every application modernization project. We always create a fixed time and materials plan that allows for scalability of personnel numbers within the fixed budget, which is uncommon across the industry. This brings greater flexibility, cost containment and increased ROI to every project based on defined and achieved business outcomes.

Having a team that partners with your IT team and the entire organization creates a unified approach to processes and goals. The result is no miscommunications, roadblocks, and approach differences while still being agile to respond to change.

The resulting business outcomes of following the best path from monolithic to microservices can vary based on your business needs today and tomorrow. But regardless of these different outcomes, they should all work to improve employee and customer experiences, drive revenue growth and eliminate back and front-end inefficiencies.

To learn more about Techolution’s approach to application modernization services and cloud management support services, visit our Application Modernization and Transformation Services Page.

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