Accelerating Application Modernization

Steve Johnston / Thursday, November 19, 2020

In today's new normal, organizations of all sizes are trying to accelerate application modernization and digital transformation projects. As David Truog, VP, Research at Forrester Research shared in a recent blog, “With customers worldwide coping with the pandemic, companies need to recalibrate customer experience (CX) efforts, and with most people cooped up at home, it’s suddenly more important than ever to get digital experiences right. That means urgently redirecting funds toward the people, processes, and technologies required for digital user experience (UX).”

But the challenge for many organizations is not just re-building or migrating applications from desktop to web and/or mobile. It is about creating applications that will either allow customers to duplicate the experience that they came to expect from their face-to-face interactions with a brand or replicate the experience of the desktop applications that they are replacing.

What is Application Modernization?

Legacy application modernization is a project designed to create new business value from existing, aging applications by updating them with modern features and capabilities. By migrating your legacy applications, you can include the latest functionalities that better align with what your business needs to succeed.

The benefits of application modernization include improving the speed of new feature delivery, exposing the functionality of existing applications to be consumed via API by other services, and re-platforming applications from on-premises to cloud for the purpose of application scale and performance as well as long-term data center and IT strategy.

Why Organizations Are Focusing on Legacy App Modernization

While there are many drivers for app modernization, currently the primary drivers include: legacy applications, aging infrastructure, lack of agility, and access to key applications.

Legacy Applications

There are thousands of Line of Business systems designed for budgeting, order processing, invoices, approvals, and so on that are vital to how an enterprise functions. The reality is that these business applications can be overly complicated and hard to use, making them inefficient.

In addition, there is often duplication as multiple systems may serve somewhat similar functions and require an user to jump from system to system to get work done. These varying degrees of functionality can hamstring productivity, preventing businesses from reacting in a timely manner to disruptive situations. 

Lastly, the user interface (UI) for these applications, often is outdated and unfamiliar to users who are used to modern web and mobile interfaces. So the outdated and layout, navigation and layout lead to a less than friendly user-experience, frustrating users, reducing productivity and lead to un-used or under-used applications.

Aging Infrastructure

In some cases, legacy infrastructure can be decades and decades old. IBM, for instance, still produces its IBM System Z mainframes that stretches back nearly half a century. It may not be easy or practical to completely replace a system that has been a core function of your business for that amount of time.

A company’s infrastructure may also be quite diverse, with some processes running on mainframes, custom-built apps, or on an ISV solution customized exactly for that organization. Apps could also be hosted in the cloud or on-premises, making this diverse array of systems more challenging to innovate on or maintain with the speed necessary.

Lack of Agility

With legacy applications and aging infrastructure comes a lack of agility in an organization. Employees spend about 28% of their time on administrative tasks like copying data from one system to another, conducting approvals across multiple systems, and spending time hunting down data hiding somewhere in one of these systems.

In addition to slowing down employees, many CIOs report that 70 to 80% of their IT budgets are tied into running current processes or on maintenance, leaving little time for innovation. These legacy applications and aging infrastructures can be a drain on company resources that can be alleviated by application modernization.

Access to Key Applications

With the pandemic driving most companies to a remote working model, it's become imperative that remote employees have web and mobile access. Otherwise, for office-based critical systems, it means somebody must be onsite. This is a big driver of modernization – migration to either move apps to the cloud or create new web-based front ends.

Accelerated Timelines in the New Normal

As just mentioned, the dramatic impact of the coronavirus has only accelerated the pace of change.

With many companies having closed offices during the pandemic, and with predictions indicating that work at home is not a passing phenomenon, it’s imperative that applications no longer be physically based, but be accessible over the web or in the cloud so you can maintain operations

Also, for competitive reasons, it's important that your applications meet the expectations of modern web users who want an elegant user experience that is accessible and looks great across any platform on any device. This requires that you build responsive web applications in modern web frameworks. It’s also important that if you are moving your apps from the desktop to the web and cloud, you will want to provide a familiar user experience for your existing users. This requires consistency from your UI toolkits.

App Modernization Strategies — Stay Flexible on Frameworks

Like other areas of technology, change is rapid with development tool frameworks. Google’s Angular framework, for example, has evolved in only a few years from Angular 2 to Angular 11.

Microsoft began its .NET software framework in the late 1990s with .NET 1.0 and has now released.NET 5, with plans to combine all platforms, including ASP.NET Core and MVC and Xamarin as competition with Javascript. This will allow developers to build progressive web apps with Blazor using C#.

Because of this constant change, many companies are wary of making an investment in only one framework for fear of being locked in. What's needed is flexibility. Having access to a UI toolkit, such as Infragistics Ultimate, which allows you to replicate the same features and functionality regardless of framework or device, reduces the risk for developers and organizations. So that even if you are developing an application in Angular today, if needed you can more quickly evolve and/or replicate in another such as React.

Infragistics and App Modernization

Infragistics offers Ignite UI, a complete library of user interface (UI) components for building data-rich and responsive web apps, including 100s of data charts, grids and components for Angular, ASP.NET (Core & MVC), Blazor, jQuery, React and Web Components. We also offer Infragistics Ultimate and Professional that let you maintain and modernize your desktop apps at your own pace while also making it easier for you to replicate features and functionality to web or Xamarin versions with the included standard components and controls.

Our UI toolkits, along with the resources, support, and technical expertise that Infragistics has built by helping companies modernize their apps, offers several advantages for those modernizing their apps.

The Ignite UI toolkits, for example, share a similar core codebase across frameworks so your developers can easily replicate related controls, features and APIs from desktop to the modern web, or between web frameworks. This means your developers can retrofit your existing desktop applications for the modern web much faster. Or if they are developing in Angular and want to move to React, they don’t have to start over with an incompatible toolkit. Infragistics protects your investment as our toolkits and components are designed to help you make the transition.

For example, we initially built our COVID-19 dashboard in Angular, which includes the Ignite UI for Angular Data Charts, Map and List components. We then evolved the dashboard and built a COVID-19 dashboard in React using similar components and adding new components such as our Dock Manager.

Infragistics Angular Dock Manager

Infragistics developers were able to replicate the features from the Angular COVID dashboard into the React COVID dashboard in 1 –2 days, versus 4 to 5 days if they had to start from scratch. One of the main benefits, according to Lead Architect Martin Trela, was that “APIs for all Infragistics data visualization components are almost identical across web platforms, including React, Angular, Web Components, and others, so creating new applications or porting existing apps is very similar regardless of development platform.”

Protect Your Investment

One other way we protect your investment is that Infragistics’ developers and software engineers are continuously at the forefront of industry standards. We are active participants, supporters and contributors to all the major JavaScript and .NET communities.

Infragistics is an active contributor to the Angular ecosystem, for example, working directly with the Angular team at Google to contribute to the Angular Components open source project. One of our software developers, Milko Venkov, worked closely with team to contribute features he felt would enhance the Angular Components SDK Overlay. The engagement is detailed in his descriptive blog that was published on the official Angular Blog site.

This enables us to ensure support for the latest versions of each framework and bring new components and features to market more quickly, as updated versions are released. We released Ignite UI for Angular v11.0.0, for example, just hours after Google released Angular 11, making it one of the first solutions available supporting it. And this is less than a month since we released Ignite UI for Angular 10.2.0. 

We are also a Gold Microsoft partner and we continue to be an active leader in the Microsoft developer ecosystem, providing controls, components and tools to streamline development of .NET applications on any platform or device.

According to Jason Beres, Sr. VP of Developer Tools at Infragistics: "Infragistics has been a Microsoft partner for almost 3 decades. Through this close-knit relationship we've not only built technology that Microsoft has used in their products, but we've embraced and extended Microsoft platforms to deliver the tools and frameworks backed by .NET that our joint customers use as they build the next generation of enterprise applications."

So, as you are planning your digital transformation and app modernization projects, keep in mind that we are your partner. We are continuously working to ensure that our components, controls and tools always have support for the latest versions of the frameworks and platforms that matter most to you and your business. And we will continue to innovate and offer the features you need, while ensuring the same level of consistent performance and functionality that you have come to trust.