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Meeting marketplace needs through application modernization

The ongoing pandemic has put unprecedented stress on the global business landscape as more people than ever choose to stay home to work and shop. Many organizations have responded by accelerating their plans for digital transformation, launching new business models and products to remain competitive in today’s unstable climate. Because of the challenges faced when using older software to apply modern business strategies, company leaders must consider plans for application modernization.

woman working on computer modernizing application

This solution improves app development, capability, and downtime by adapting existing software to enable newer computing approaches, frameworks, and platforms. Examples include migrating legacy apps to microservices or physical servers to cloud computing.

This blog will illustrate the impact of modernization on businesses and what it means for organizations envisioning growth in a time of uncertainty.

Evolving alongside a rapidly changing digital landscape

In response to the changing needs of industries and workforces, many companies are turning to remote work operations and the required infrastructure to ensure business continuity and success.

The widespread need for online operations has spurred on existing plans for digital transformations. According to data from Global Surveys, companies are executing their digitization strategies an average of 20 to 25 times faster than thought possible before the pandemic. Additionally, forward-thinking organizations are also migrating to modern networks, allowing them to meet evolving customer needs. System modernization is critical to keep up with these increasingly complex applications.

Download the e-book: Benefits of Application Modernization

Application modernization is the vehicle taking many organizations on this digital journey. Business developments driving enterprises to modernize include:

  • Cloud-native applications: Running applications through the Cloud, the standardization of operating systems, and cloud-ready application remediation.
  • Containerization: Improves hardware use by enhancing portability, improving computing capabilities, and reducing dependency on the underlying infrastructure.
  • Application integration: Lightweight API-first architecture combining upstream and downstream systems.
  • DevOps/SecOps: Automated processes across development and operations that accelerate time to market.
  • Data insights and AI/ML: Builds more intelligent applications and real-time insights to achieve operational efficiency.
Common patterns for modernizing applications include::
  • Lift and shift: Also called rehosting, lift and shift takes an existing application and moves it from a legacy environment to a newer infrastructure. By harnessing this pattern, organizations move the application with little to no changes to underlying code. .
  • Refactoring: In application modernization terms, refactoring is another way of saying “rewriting” or “restructuring.” This approach entails retooling legacy application code to better run in a supportive cloud infrastructure environment. Rewriting code and restructuring the existing codebase allows developers to break up a monolithic application into easy-to-access microservices. Development teams can use microservices to maximize cloud-native systems and tools, including containers and container orchestration.
  • Replatforming: This pattern stands as a middle ground between the refactoring and lift-and-shift approaches. While replatforming doesn’t require major code changes, it does entail updates that enable legacy apps to utilize a modern cloud platform—for instance, modifying or replacing the application’s backend database.

Learn more: Modernizing applications for cloud migration

Key technologies to get you started

As successful business operations become more and more competitive, cutting-edge organizations must be responsive, resilient, and reliable. Application modernization breaks the rigid integration between hardware and software in favor of a more flexible infrastructure.

There are several intersecting technologies fundamental to modernizing your applications:

  • Cloud computing: When people discuss the modernization process, they’re usually referring to the migration of traditional applications to cloud environments. These include cloud platforms, private clouds, and hybrid clouds. For example, cloud-based data recovery solutions like Microsoft Azure provide companies with a cost-effective fail-safe for their primary data storage systems.
  • Containers: Containers are a cloud-centric method for packaging, deploying, and operating various workloads and applications. This technology revolutionizes how enterprises manage business-critical applications by providing greater scalability, portability, and operational efficiency. These elements are well-suited for cloud infrastructure—especially multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.
  • Microservices: Instead of building an application as a single codebase, IT can decouple several components into independent web standards. With microservices, there are thousands of disparate components supported in web servers and the Cloud. Each of the pieces can be deployed, updated, and operated independently of one another.
  • Orchestration and automation: Software orchestration is the automation of tasks associated with containers, including deployment, scaling, and networking. Meanwhile, automation is needed to ensure that development, operations, and security teams can sustainably manage modern apps at scale.

Read more: Serverless vs. containers: complementary or competing technologies?

Why do organizations need application modernization?

Most organizations have large investments in their existing application portfolio from both a financial and operational standpoint. Although “legacy” has negative connotations in software, these systems are often among the most mission-critical applications. Few businesses are willing to retire these apps because the cost of replacing them, productivity losses, and other issues are simply too great. Therefore, application modernization is the most sensible way for enterprises to employ new software platforms, tools, libraries, and frameworks.

Modernizing legacy apps enables organizations of all sizes to provide customers with a unique digital experience while reducing overall costs and increasing application reliability and resiliency. CBTS Application Services specializes in bringing outdated systems into the modern age with future growth in mind.

Watch Chad Stansel, Director of Application Development, discuss how CBTS can support organizations ready to move their applications to the Cloud.

Task CBTS with your digital transition strategy

The experts at CBTS Application Services build client-centered partnerships that enable best-in-class business solutions.

Niche skills sets are needed to keep up with the complex, rapidly changing tech landscape. CBTS engineers have the experience and the knowledge to help future-proof your business. Because we understand your architecture and tooling needs, CBTS provides transformational solutions for scalability, automation, and cloud-readiness.

CBTS fully managed solutions enable clients to offload the burdens of risk, monitoring, maintenance, and more. By setting your apps up for future success, your company is free to focus on critical business goals.

Contact CBTS today to learn more about how application modernization can transform your business operations.


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Leverage the application modernization process to stay competitive

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Leverage the application modernization process to stay competitive

To compete in the digital age, enterprises need to modernize their IT ecosystems for agility, efficiency, and an improved customer experience. The application modernization process is a key component of digital transformation for business success. To continue adding value to a given industry, enterprises should plan to begin the process of modernizing legacy apps with the help of cloud-native development and deployment services.

If you’re confused about where to start or what the process entails, you’re not alone. You don’t need to modernize everything or do it all at once. By modernizing gradually, you’ll better understand how the process works and how it will benefit your company.

While application modernization may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. CBTS Application Services specializes in ensuring you have the tools that will help you succeed and developing an implementation strategy specific to your business needs.

Six steps to get started with the application modernization process

1. Assess applications for cloud-readiness

Start by identifying applications that have the most business relevance and applications that will benefit from better performance. In general, these apps are between 5-7 years old. Your application modernization candidates will require a detailed assessment to determine how best to meet your business needs.

Applications can be analyzed manually or using automation. Look for opportunities to update business logic into cloud frameworks such as microservices, serverless computing, and cloud-native services to help you meet performance and scalability needs. You also need to identify hard-coded connections to other systems and services, as these will need to be updated to conform to cloud standards.

By modernizing applications, you will harness the full benefits of the Cloud for:
  • Agility: Allows businesses to stay responsive to customer needs.
  • Flexibility: Makes innovating and scaling systems simpler than ever.
  • Speed to market: Establishes a competitive advantage.
  • Automation: Achieves more efficient business operations.

Also read: Supporting secure business solutions on the cloud

2. Focus on the user experience

Focusing on user experience is a key step in leveraging the application modernization process. Great user experience will result in greater loyalty to your company.

User experience is top of mind for employers and business owners. Along with modernizing the technical aspects of applications, organizations also need to consider modernizing the user experience.

Today, we expect efficient and reliable digital experiences that deliver what we want, when we want it. Cloud-native applications are not only more reliable, but they are often more cost-effective.

You may find it helpful to gather user data and input so you can modernize with improved user experience in mind. Not only will it result in a superior product, demonstrating that their experience matters will result in greater loyalty to your company.

3. Validate your work with a proof of concept

Before building out a fully modernized solution, it’s good to check your work to ensure you’re getting the expected results. Do this with a proof of concept (PoC) early in the application modernization process.

A PoC lets you start with a minimalist approach that’s quick and cost effective. Furthermore, it will help you validate technical decisions, demonstrate functionality to stakeholders, and prove the modernized application is delivering the intended value. You only need to test the features and functionality needed to make a decision to move forward with application modernization, and you only need to build out the infrastructure needed to run the PoC.

4. Define the minimum viable product

Modern application development is an iterative process of continuous improvement and enhancement. To take advantage of the benefits of iterative development, define a minimum viable product (MVP), which is the simplest version of your application that will provide value to the company and users. With user feedback, you can revise the MVP to perfect the application. Then, you can iteratively add features and functionality to enhance and extend the usefulness and profitability of the application.

By spending less time building, you can release your MVP into the market sooner, which results in early user feedback, more revenue, and maybe even more market share.

Also read: The methods and motivations behind application modernization efforts

5. Build or optimize cloud infrastructure

You’ll need to modify your existing infrastructure to support the application modernization process. Start by defining the development environment. Then, build out the test and production environments as development matures. When possible, use infrastructure as code to define the infrastructure. This will enable you to automate provisioning, saving your developers quality time for development work.

6. Automate as much as possible

Automation is a key part of application modernization. By automating applications, systems, and processes, companies can sustainably manage modernized applications at scale.

Employ automation wherever possible. Automate testing to ensure that modernized features are the same as before modernization, including application features, configuration, and infrastructure. If containers are part of your modernization strategy, consider automating tasks such as container deployment, scaling, and networking. And don’t forget to automate provisioning and backup.

Read more: Revamp your business with the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform

Conclusion: Modernize your applications to gain a competitive edge

Modernizing applications creates new opportunities to streamline software development and implement continuous improvement throughout an application’s lifecycle, giving organizations the ability to respond to changes quickly.

You can speed up your time to success by drawing on outside expertise—a partner that has worked through and solved nearly every common misstep associated with application modernization.

By enlisting CBTS to guide you through the application modernization process, you can ensure technology isn’t holding you back from business success. CBTS has a proven track record for aligning business objectives with the right cloud technologies and can provide expert advice on which applications are the best candidates for modernization and migration to the Cloud.

For more information on how CBTS can assist your organization at critical points in the application modernization journey, contact us today.

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Building the best Microsoft Teams adoption strategy for your company

Organizations are adopting Microsoft Teams strategies to make collaborative processes more productive and efficient. Business connections are critical in today’s remote work era, making Microsoft Teams the ideal digital teamwork tool.

Microsoft Teams implementation can come with some difficulties. Read key Microsoft Teams adoption strategies to ensure adoption by end-users and leadership.

Microsoft Teams is a modern communications hub enabling channel- and team-based threaded conversations, along with support for live and streamed events, external application integration, file-sharing, and real-time networking. All are accomplished through a single user interface that operates consistently across devices.

However, as with any digital collaboration technology, implementation can come with some difficulties. For starters, enterprise leadership and IT personnel must develop a plan to ensure end-user buy-in and adopt security practices specific to Teams. This blog will explore key Microsoft Teams adoption strategies and how your company can best utilize this technology to its advantage in the changing communications landscape.

A host of business-critical features

Microsoft Teams is a persistent chat-based platform complete with document sharing, online meetings, and other essential communication features. Shared workspace software makes remote teamwork easy, especially for large companies with groups of remote employees.

Companies adopting strategies around Microsoft Teams can harness features including:

  • Teams and channels: Teams consist of people, content, and tools organized around different projects and objectives, open to anyone within the organization or made private to invited users. Channels are dedicated threads within a team created for specific subjects, disciplines, or project functions, with file-sharing and storage capabilities utilizing SharePoint.
  • Chat and channel messaging: Instantly communicate among teams, groups, and individuals with customized features and roles defined by the organization’s global or multiple messaging policies.
  • SharePoint document storage: Every Microsoft Teams member has access to SharePoint Online, where files specific to conversations are shared and stored.
  • Online meetings: Host groups of up to 10,000 users for department and project updates, training sessions, or even regional or company-wide meetings, with built-in scheduling aids, a note-taking app, and in-meeting chat messaging.
  • Power Apps Integration: This highly intuitive, low-code application development platform allows individuals to solve business problems with visual tools that don’t require code. When integrated with Microsoft Teams, it can be used for everything from customizing SharePoint forms to building end-to-end solutions that can reduce time-to-market, rapidly streamline processes, improve customer satisfaction, and enhance worker productivity.

Read more: The widespread benefits of Microsoft Teams

Companies adopting Microsoft Team strategies are challenged by:
  1. Sprawl: Any user can create a team and—without active supervision—the environment can become confusing. Additionally, teams that cluster storage space can remove silos and blur lines of demarcation between internal groups.
  2. Guest access: While inviting guest users to Teams can help employees make decisions, granting access to your enterprise’s internal documents has its pitfalls. The challenge here is collaborating with clients and partners without oversharing or compromising crucial data.
  3. File management: With information uploaded and shared in private chats and Microsoft Teams channels, it can be tricky to manage files effectively. Users may have to move files manually to the correct location, wasting time and potentially clogging up your document library with hundreds or thousands of files.

Solving common challenges in Microsoft Teams

Although Microsoft Teams adopters often face hurdles while developing their implementation strategy, these obstacles can be overcome with thoughtful planning.

For example, organizations can minimize teams sprawl by:

  • Preparing an adoption strategy: Before implementing Microsoft Teams, your IT staff will need to establish governance to guide the management of users’ access and data security in compliance with your business standards. With input from executives and department leads, establishing governance involves preparing use cases to set policies and organizing ongoing communications and training plans after deployment.
  • Crafting clear messaging: One of the primary reasons for teams sprawl is impatience. Before Microsoft Teams deployment, organizations must communicate to staff the difference between teams and channels, channel conversations versus chat messages, and common use cases. 
  • Guest access solutions include:
  • Admin center implementation: As a Global Administrator or Teams Administrator in the Microsoft Teams admin center, you can grant guests minimum privileges for their projects without exposing data or communications outside of project scope. For instance, if an executive is concerned about possible information leaks during a video meeting, the admin can disable the Microsoft Teams screen sharing capability.
  • Sensitivity labels:  During the team creation process, team leads can set up sensitivity labels that mark delicate data as “confidential.”

Organizations in need of better file management can:

  • Upload files to folders: Use the Files tab of your respective channel to create required folders. You can then copy shared links and paste them into private chat or channel conversations. This method will keep your Document library organized and avoid file loss or duplication.

Accessing certified experts during integration

To guide Microsoft Teams integration, enterprises often need to augment their IT organizations with experts who have day-to-day experience with essential Microsoft Teams adoption strategies. CBTS, as a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, has a large pool of experts who can assist IT teams with the challenges encountered during an integration, as well as provide 24×7 monitoring and support afterwards. 

Download the e-book: Build a modern workplace with Microsoft Teams and Power Apps 

Future thinking is critical

Microsoft Teams is a robust collaboration environment that will continue to grow as remote work expands. Your business has unique processes and technology needs, making planning ahead critical.  With decades of experience in delivering communications services, CBTS experts can help you leverage Microsoft Teams to meet your unique needs and prepare your business for the future of remote collaboration and hybrid work.

To learn more, watch our LinkedIn Live Tech Talk with expert engineers Justin Rice and Jon Lloyd. They answer the question, “Are you prepared for the revolution in tech communications?”

Contact CBTS for more information on adopting Microsoft Teams in your organizational strategy.

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The methods and motivations behind application modernization efforts

Most business leaders understand the importance of bringing their applications and infrastructure up to date, but many are grappling with the question of how best to go about their modernization efforts. The secret may lie in the growing abundance of cloud-based applications and networking solutions.

The cloud isn’t merely an improvement upon existing database technology—it’s an entirely distinct networking environment that demands a new approach from the organizations that hope to capitalize on it. As the use of cloud computing becomes more common, modernization will similarly become a crucial component of readying your enterprise to tap into the cloud.

Initially, some elements of the industry assumed that cloud computing would be limited to smoothing out workload traffic that would otherwise bog down legacy IT infrastructure and speed up program deployment speeds. However, the common understanding of the cloud’s capabilities has evolved, and savvy enterprise leaders should be aware of the cloud’s utility when it comes to a wide variety of applications, including e-commerce, networked devices, and more.

The cloud itself is a constantly evolving phenomenon, now encompassing “multi-cloud architectures” that function differently from traditional data centers. For this reason, applications designed to be used on legacy networking hardware must also be adapted to coexist with “the new cloud.”

Revolutionary developments are also occurring in the virtual layers that bridge hardware and software, creating “microservices” that are opening up a new frontier of application management, integration, and portability. This signals a very real change to the nature of IT itself across multiple industries, from research and manufacturing to commercial enterprises.

On top of being deployed in new ways, applications are now playing very different roles in daily life as the cloud continues to play a bigger part in the modern world. With information constantly streaming through cyberspace, legacy networking infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the intensifying demands of application support. The lesson is that while applications grow in complexity, so must the systems that allow them to function.

These myriad factors are adding up to a global data environment that is more connected and efficient than ever before. Developers are now able to launch into production easily and with little delay thanks to new containerized microservices that help them transition smoothly between computing environments. However, these advances are only possible when an enterprise embraces cloud-native development systems and infrastructure, and care must be taken to migrate to these systems without compromising regular business operations.

A significant portion of the business community has come to the same conclusion.

In a recent IDG survey of IT professionals, 60% of respondents said they have already started to repurpose their applications into a cloud-native design, with the remaining 40% saying they are in the process of developing a modernization strategy.
 

However, many respondents also reported difficulty in their modernization efforts, specifically in regard to protecting their data and managing security risks.

There are multiple avenues for an organization to approach modernization. DevOps, an organizational transformation practice that involves close coordination of teams and the adoption of automation wherever possible, is the most common method according to the survey: 78% of respondents indicated that they are either already adopting it (38%) or are currently testing it with some applications (40%). Another 10% are in the planning stages of DevOps utilization.

In a close second place is container technology, with 72% of respondents claiming to have either adopted it (38%) or started testing it (34%), with 16% planning to adopt it. Continuous delivery is less popular, with 68% of respondents indicating that they’ve adopted (36%) or have started to test (32%) the method, and only 28% reporting that they are actively planning to utilize it.

Of interesting note is that 22% of respondents reported having already adopted all three approaches, suggesting that the IT industry is realizing that infrastructure modernization is crucial to survival in the era of cloud computing, AI, and predictive analytics.

The struggle to modernize and keep up with the ever-changing world of cloud computing has more than its share of difficulties. Companies surveyed by IDG indicated that putting into action the many crucial improvements necessary to keep pace presents a significant challenge. Nearly half (48%) of respondents reported that implementing DevOps practices would burden and strain their IT resources, with another 46% voicing similar concerns about refactoring and/or rebuilding their applications for the cloud.

With these challenges in mind, it’s vital for the modern enterprise to be aware of its options when it comes to technology partners who can empower application modernization efforts. The CBTS Application Services team has a proven track record of working closely with clients in a wide variety of verticals to modernize their applications for cloud environments.

Contact us for more information on how CBTS can enable your application modernization strategies.

Top 5 issues facing today’s enterprises

It’s never easy for enterprises to keep pace with the latest technologies — but the rise of the digital workplace often gives them no choice.

It’s all about bring-your-own-device and chasing the latest cloud collaboration tools — all the while dealing with shrinking IT budgets and “do-more-with-less” demands from the corporate suite. These issues come to a head for companies that merge or experience rapid growth:

  • Executives must find common ground in competing styles and philosophies within a short time frame.
  • Large data sets need to be migrated into a unified platform and then mined for intelligence to drive innovation and increased revenue.
  • Multiple teams must work together to consolidate processes and data systems.
  • Leaders must choose optimum digital workplace tools to elevate employee experiences.

Successful enterprises hope to boost collaboration, document tracking, and remote and mobile accessibility while optimizing the efficiency of their IT infrastructure. If it works right, they get lower TCO and more engaged employees who are happier and increasingly productive.

A lot of organizations answer these demands with a blended solution that gives workers powerful tools for sharing files and collaborating with colleagues and suppliers around the world.

To pull everything together successfully, companies must work out five fundamental issues:

1. Reconciling employee/IT conflicts

Employees chafe against workplace technology that bogs down their collaborations with co-workers, vendors, managers, and everybody else. IT professionals chafe against constant pressure to accept new technologies that seem to arrive every week.

There’s a tendency in enterprises to assume these conflicts are the natural state of things — with each side insisting the other is oblivious to their needs. This divide is unnecessary: There are plenty of tools to streamline the productivity of today’s digital workforce without compromising the legitimate security, compliance, and governance concerns of the IT department.

Indeed, Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint have deep, rich toolsets that can help reconcile the demands of mobile workers and IT people responsible for keeping cybercriminals out of corporate networks. These tools can be integrated with powerful CRM and ERP software to help companies realize their visions of digital transformation.

All this can be accomplished while fulfilling regulatory and security requirements. And it can work on any infrastructure — cloud, on-premise, or hybrid.

Many of the most powerful capabilities of SharePoint and other enterprise apps are buried deep within the feature set and unknown to all but an elite cadre of power users and system integrators. That’s why enterprises adapting to the digital workplace often prefer to work with a seasoned partner who knows how to look at a company’s business challenges and IT infrastructure and tailor a custom solution.

2. Streamlining document management

Enterprises need robust document management systems that can inventory documents, eliminate duplication, and make everything searchable. Otherwise, workers waste time tracking down files they need or needlessly creating documents that already exist.

Fortunately, SharePoint has everything enterprises need to build sophisticated content management systems that are well organized, indexed, searchable, and fully capable of meeting the collaboration needs of today’s workforce.

As a Microsoft Partner and a veteran of more than 200 SharePoint integrations, OnX, a CBTS company, has the kind of expert-level knowledge and experience companies need to design and build a custom content management system that gives workers quick, easy access to the files they need to get their work done.

3. Empowering remote and mobile workers

Remote and mobile workers need access to more than documents. They must be able to use and approve schedules, forms, and applications on any device in any location with an internet connection.

Increasingly, companies see that allowing remote work and empowering mobile workers is good for recruiting, retention, morale, and productivity. And they acknowledge that encouraging employee productivity can ease the pressure to control costs.

But they may not have the tools in place to embrace these realities. One fix is to develop a project portfolio management (PPM) system that helps manage digital workers effectively, encourage collaboration, and enhance productivity. Microsoft Services have great tools for building an enterprise PPM system, but again, companies often need help designing, configuring, and implementing these systems.

4. Embracing the consumerization of IT

Mobile workers want to bring their favorite devices and apps with them everywhere — and they expect their employers to adapt. If they prefer iOS over Android or a tablet to a smartphone, it’s the IT department’s job to adapt.

This underscores why the consumerization of IT has become so pivotal for enterprises. It’s no longer an option to impose old-school enterprise applications on the digital workforce. People who get fed up with one company’s balky technologies will be easy prey for more adaptive competitors.

Fortunately, the rise of software-as-a-service and cloud consumption is making it easier for companies to be a leader in the workplace and market as a whole. Enterprises need to work with agile, adaptive cloud technologies and make sure their in-house networks have enough capacity to handle the traffic of mobile-ready users, especially with the rise of bandwidth-heavy video services.

5. Simplifying identity management

The complexities of logging into corporate networks annoy mobile and remote workers to no end. Most people prefer a strong identity-management program that enables a single sign-on for all their devices.

Microsoft Azure’s Active Directory technology includes single-sign-on in its identity management suite. Most enterprises worldwide already use Active Directory, so it’s not a huge challenge to implement some of its more advanced features. It’s just a matter of having an experienced partner to help implement it on your systems.

A partner for today’s digital workplace

We address these kinds of challenges every day. As a premier North American technology integrator and a veteran Microsoft partner, CBTS has the people and the tools enterprises need to evolve with each generation of new workers and technologies.

We have the certified Office 365 and SharePoint IT consultants you need to develop robust, secure architectures, design easy-to-use interfaces, and implement solutions that do just what your people need. And you can focus on your key business goals and keep your IT people doing what they do best.

 

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