Cloud application modernization: How to improve your app

Iryna Hnatiuk


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March 11, 2024


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How we use and interact with software applications has transformed dramatically in today’s landscape. Businesses and developers must constantly adapt and enhance their applications to stay relevant and competitive. This process of adaptation and improvement is precisely what cloud application modernization is all about.

In this article, we apply our expertise in app modernization cloud consulting to explain the essential strategies and best practices that lie at the heart of effective cloud application modernization. By delving into these principles, organizations can ensure their applications remain agile, secure, scalable, and efficient.

What is cloud application modernization?

Under application modernization, we understand the process of updating legacy applications. It includes their architecture, infrastructure, and features. The final goal is to leverage the latest technical innovations and make your app and the entire business more efficient and profitable. It doesn’t just improve the application but many processes in an organization.

What is cloud-native architecture?

Cloud-native architecture is an approach designed to fully leverage the cloud computing model. It represents a combination of methodologies from cloud services, DevOps, and software development principles. Cloud-native applications are reliable, scalable, and perform better. Сloud-native application modernization allows you to quickly bring your app to the market.

Cloud app modernization benefits

The key benefit of application modernization in cloud is its ability to extend the life of applications that can’t be replaced or removed from the field. An additional benefit is the improvement of additional technologies and processes. Those are cloud computing, DevOps, etc.

By modernizing your application, you achieve better agility, improved UX, and cost efficiencies. Legacy app logic is complex, and adding new capabilities and updates takes ages. While you’re spending time doing this, your competitors are winning a market by offering modern and up-to-date capabilities. App modernization opens access to these advantages.

Another benefit of modernizing your apps is improving the experience for external and internal users. In a competitive market, companies win by offering performant applications with the best user experience. Tech-savvy users gravitate to products that have the latest technologies and capabilities. With new offerings entering the market daily, you must work smart to maximize profit and increase market share. Achieving these goals with legacy applications is incredibly challenging.

Finally, cloud-native application modernization can reduce costs and improve operating efficiency. Modernizing applications to a microservices architecture makes components smaller and loosely coupled. It means it becomes easier to deploy and scale these components independently. It leads to improved release velocity, stability, and availability.


Why is cloud app modernization important?

Scaling legacy applications is challenging and expensive. But it’s necessary if they don’t meet users’ demands anymore. The concept of monolith applications implies scaling it as one thing. Improving a single area requires complex refactoring or changing the entire system.

On the other hand, modern applications consist of many components responsible for different functionalities. These components assure reuse throughout your organization and can be operated independently.

Top strategies for cloud app modernization

Before moving to the app modernization process, decide on the strategy. It has to align with your company’s small and big goals. You can migrate to the cloud and shift your apps. Or you can change the code of your legacy apps.

An app modernization strategy can look different, depending on numerous factors, but it always includes these three steps: identifying pain points, analyzing user interactions, and designing solutions. Here are six of the most popular strategies for these days:


Rehosting (aka ‘lift-and-shift’) means moving your app to the cloud while keeping its code untouched. The main benefit of this strategy is that it’s quick and reduces capital expenses.


This strategy is more complex. At its core is modification and expanding your app’s functionality and code. As a result, its cloud scalability improves and allows for an easier adoption of cloud capabilities.


Rebuilding is even more complex, but it’s handy when your app requires significant changes—for example, replacing the code. While opting for rebuilding, you take advantage of all the latest developments and technologies.


This strategy moves your app and changes its code. It allows you to keep the core functionality while redesigning the UI/UX design for the new platform.


Refactoring is meant to improve the code design’s readability, maintainability, and security. Refactoring allows the use of cloud environments and quicker connections between the apps.


The name gives a hint — this is the practice of replacing one app with another. It sounds radical, but sometimes, it’s the only way to meet business needs and achieve goals. An outdated monolith app might be unable to do this, and the abovementioned strategies might be helpless.

Cloud application modernization: Factors to consider

After knowing your strategy, you need some factors to remember while running the process. They will help you to reach the maximum smoothness and efficiency.

Understand the scope of work and risks

The more your app is tied to your daily operations, the more risky the project might be. But it doesn’t mean you have to stop. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has the system become too complicated to manage?
  • Is it flexible enough to adapt to changing business needs?
  • Does it harm user experience?
  • Is it putting your business at risk?

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, app modernization should soon be part of your business strategy.

Clearly define the requirements

Understanding your system’s current state and defining the requirements is essential. This list must be very accurate, especially for commercial off-the-shelf products.

When scoping an update or upgrade, compare your modified environment to an untouched piece of the code to understand your modified footprint. The following analysis of code and user settings will help you identify opportunities to retire unnecessary code and objects.

Minimize risks

Some things can help you reduce development time and minimize the risk. If your systems are still on-premises, decide what makes the most sense to your business — staying on-premises, moving cloud, or hybrid. Uncertainty can be an obstacle.

If you don’t have the in-house skills to carry out a project, find a reliable partner able to do so. Thoroughly calculate the budget and define timeframes.

The devil is always in the detail. Addressing these challenges initially will reduce risk and development timelines and improve efficiency.

Test smarter, not harder

Testing might be unexpectedly time-consuming. For significant upgrades, it requires over 50% of the project timeline. QAs can be tempted to test everything, and it’s not always the best practice. If you have an image of the net changes, you might opt for testing only necessary things.

Functional testing is the first candidate for process automation. Establish a catalog of test scripts so that you can run and report on tests faster. Combine the scripts to test end-to-end workflows.

Cloud application modernization process

To modernize the app, we usually take the following steps:

Plan a new architecture.

Decide how to restructure the application to run as a set of distributed microservices. You must know the number of microservices you’re willing to create, their structure, and their organization.

Refactor the application.

Refactoring is a so-called redesign of the source code to make the app run as microservices. This is the most complicated and time-consuming part.

Create a new hosting environment.

Decide how to host the modernized app. You can deploy each microservice in a container or use serverless functions to host some app parts.

Configure IAM.

IAM is a set of policies and technologies to ensure that the right users access technology resources appropriately. You need them to protect your app.

Plan backups.

Backing up microservices is a complicated process. The way to do so depends on how you host them.

Run the test.

Deploy your application into an updated environment. Then, test it to make sure it works as expected.

Move to production.

Put the app into production by directing requests to it and shutting off the monolithic instance of the application.

Types of cloud modernization

Cloud modernization allows you to utilize cloud-native architectures and cloud services fully. For instance, you might refactor a monolithic application to use a microservices architecture. The app can consume cloud hosting resources more efficiently when deployed as microservices.

It’s also easier to scale and update microservices and manage them using an orchestrator. A modernized app can take fuller advantage of the cloud than an app migrated to the cloud as it was, without any changes.

Types of cloud modernization

1. Modernizing an on-premises app by overhauling it to take advantage of the cloud, then moving it to the cloud.

2. Modernizing an app hosted in the cloud but not yet optimized for the cloud.

3. Modernizing a legacy app and keeping it on-premises but hosting it in a cloud-native on-premises environment.

Tips for successful cloud application modernization

Let’s define the main tips to complement everything we’ve said about cloud application modernization and its value. They rely on our experience in app modernization and can help you make the process smooth and easier to navigate.

Understand the purpose. Start with your business goals, big and small, and then build a modernization strategy to achieve your objectives. Don’t waste time and other resources on modernization for the sake of progress. With an understanding of your ‘why,’ you can make choices that solve your business needs.

Assess resources and partners. Identify the workloads; involve stakeholders and those IT specialists with expertise in the legacy application and the cloud you’re moving to. Define, develop, and execute the optimal migration and modernization path. Find a reliable partner providing cloud app modernization services if you need one.

Analyze your starting point. Assess your app to understand its architecture, dependencies, and requirements. Identify components to migrate to the cloud and to modify, and only then decide on the strategy.

Do a holistic modernization. Consider modernizing underlying business processes, including UX and agility. This way, your business vision, goals, and instruments become more aligned. It also makes you more competitive in the market.

Plan for a long run. There are better options than creating a one-size-fits-all catalog of services and forcing apps to align. You better opt for a continuous, modular approach that enables permanent modernization and gradually aligning changes with business and technology goals.



Application Modernization is non-negotiable regarding enhancing agility and adopting a cloud migration strategy. The right approach can skyrocket your modernization process. At the same time, the wrong one may cause a massive loss for your company and make the app vulnerable.

Cloud application modernization with Blackthorn Vision

We understand how critical your app is to the success of your organization. We also know how complicated and expensive it might be to maintain a legacy app.

At Blackthorn Vision, we provide cloud application modernization services to modernize and actualize your app to help your business meet its goals. We use a cost-efficient approach and develop a strategy that is a golden mine between your capabilities and expectations. Contact us to transform your traditional app into advanced tools and technologies.


What is the difference between cloud migration and app modernization?

As you can tell from the name, migration implies moving your app to the cloud. The approach has another name — lift-and-shift, which gives an even better explanation. Modernization includes this option, but you can improve your app and host it on-premise if it makes more sense.

Cloud migration is a one-time jump from the existing to the new. Modernization provides a phased transition to new technology.

What is the difference between traditional and cloud-native applications?

In most cases, traditional applications are monoliths. Most of them run on a mainframe or a client/server environment. In most cases, you need additional hardware to upgrade or scale up data storage and support services.

Cloud-native applications are hosted and run in the cloud and benefit from a cloud computing model. Cloud-native applications, unlike traditional applications, use a microservices architecture.

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