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Red Hat reveals changing trends in application modernisation
Thu, 21st Mar 2024

At the recent KubeCon 2024, industry-leading enterprise software firm Red Hat released its State of Application Modernization Report. This comprehensive research reveals insightful trends on how businesses are modernising their applications. Interestingly, findings underscore that security, reliability, and scalability are key drivers of modernisation, irrespective of industry sector.

In an intriguing evolution, the report discloses that application modernisation is no longer synonymous with containerisation as it was previously. Instead, enterprises now signify application modernisation through the significant improvement of continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines.

This study was conducted in late 2023 in partnership with research firm Illuminas. It amassed 1,000 responses from a diverse demographic, with 50% originating from the US, and the remaining 50% distributed evenly between the UK and the English-speaking Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Respondents were carefully crafted to represent a cross-section of IT decision-makers, backend developers and software architects hailing from a variety of industries, including retail, software development, finance, and telecommunications.

Primary drivers for application modernisation were widely agreed upon by respondents. A dominant 70% view successful modernisation through improvements in the crucial areas of security, reliability, and scalability. An impressive majority have reported benefits in these fundamental areas, with 58% witnessing security advancements and over half noting enhanced reliability and scalability.

Notably, the understanding of application modernisation has shifted dramatically since Red Hat's 2021 survey. This year, a striking 68% of respondents pinned improvement of CI/CD pipelines as their primary definition, surpassing the previous top choice of containerising workloads. This signals a rewriting of traditional IT fundamentals and a decreased emphasis on certain newer technologies. Another common form of modernisation cited included enhancing an organisation's data infrastructure, tools, and practices to meet the progressing needs of data-dependent business operations and analytics.

Red Hat's Report established an interesting and comprehensive observation regarding the ways organisations are restructuring their applications. Six methodologies were extrapolated from the data: retiring no-longer-needed applications, retaining critical applications as-is until refactoring is required, rehosting applications without making architectural modifications, replatforming operations while migrating to optimise applications, refactoring to become cloud-native, and repurchasing from perpetual licenses to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.

No one technique was found to be dominant. Replatforming emerged as the most commonly employed strategy at 20%, but every methodology noted response rates varying between 10% to 19%. This paints a vivid picture of diversified modernisation processes, dependent on the apps requiring modernisation, the individual organisation's sophistication and the respondent's role within it.

Tackling the challenge of modernisation, nearly half of the professionals surveyed identified complexity as the top concern. To confront these challenges, organisations have adopted a systematic approach with up-front planning. These techniques include researchers adopting additional tools, API-driven development, establishing a business case and implementing DevOps practices.

The report also unearthed an emerging role for AI in the modernisation process. Over 75% of organisations reported utilising AI to support their modernisation journey. The use of AI to facilitate modernisation was most common, but a significant number are also incorporating AI into existing legacy applications to achieve modernity.

This detailed report not only illuminates the ways organisations worldwide are confronting the challenges of modernisation, but it also serves as a guidepost to devise effective strategies for application modernisation.