Our clients often ask us for our opinions on how to approach these systems modernization projects, so we thought it was a good time to get our thoughts down in a format that would be helpful for them.

At Intelliware, we’ve undertaken dozens of successful replatforming projects, and we are seeing the demand for such efforts increasing enormously. Download our complimentary paper now and learn more about practices and strategies that will help you to make your replatforming program a successful one. 

Lightbulb replatforming

What is it?

“Replatforming” is the process of renovating and migrating a legacy application to take advantage of modern technologies, environments and architectures.

There isn’t one agreed upon definition of what constitutes a replatform program. It can vary from a straightforward “lift and shift” migration to a new environment to a complete architectural rewrite. Usually, a pragmatic approach to replatforming for most businesses lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

Why Bother?

Though it can be a lengthy and complex process, replatforming is becoming a competitive necessity as applications, back-end software and other technology stacks go from an enabler of business objectives, to an obstacle.

The need for replatforming most commonly arises when larger organizations reach a point when they seek to offer products, services and solutions that their existing platform wasn’t built to offer. To keep pace with competitors and market demands, a shift from a legacy platform to a newer stack is often necessary.

As it happens, the need for replatforming isn’t limited to slow moving Fortune 500 companies, startups often neeed to modernize, too. As once nimble startups grow into larger organizations, and mature their focus from daily survival to long-term growth, their original technology and architecture choices often become brittle. While a fast -growing startup’s initial platform may have met their needs while they were hacking together innovative solutions, such platforms are rarely built to sustain their needs as they grow into a larger organization.

“Core systems that drive back, mid, and front offices are often decades old, comprising everything from the custom systems built to run the financial services industry in the 1970s to the ERP reengineering wave of the 1990s. Today, many roads to digital innovation lead through these ‘heart of the business’ applications. For this reason, organizations are now developing strategies for reimagining their core systems that involve re-platforming, modernizing, and revitalizing them.”

– Deloitte’s report on Reimagining Core Systems

From Our Chief Technologist

“Up until the late ’90s it was still true that 90% of software projects failed, so to launch a replatforming project, which was far more expensive back then, there was a good chance it was going to fail, so you had greater incentive to make what you had work,” explained BC Holmes, Intelliware Development Inc.’s Chief Technologist.

Holmes adds that while older technologies had a greater sense of permanence, because of their relative cost and complexity, there’s an understanding that today’s systems have a much shorter lifecycle.

“These days it’s cheaper to build, and Agile development approaches combined with Open Source and Cloud technologies have enabled greater success at developing applications. That’s led to people perceiving legacy platforms as more of a throwaway.”

– BC Holmes, Chief Technologist at Intelliware

Why the need is growing more urgent

It’s not just the speed of development cycles that is driving more companies to pursue replatforming, though it is one part of the equation. Another important part, according to Intelliware’s senior vice president of technology, Bruno Schmidt, is how the Internet has personalized much of the consumers’ daily experience with technology.

“You can now make some of your features or functionality available to end users as opposed to just business-to- business and internal interactions,” he said. “Anybody can check their balance and make transactions, not just the bank teller, so the requests for those back-end systems just go up by orders of magnitude, and you need to be able to handle that.”

– Bruno Schmidt, Senior Vice President of Technology at Intelliware

Of retail digital business decision makers will replatform their eCommerce system within the next 18 months to meet the demands of “ever rising consumer expectations.”

– Forrester Research recent survey

57% Vector

From Our Technical Director

Another dynamic shift is the evolution of the IT department itself, according to Ben Hall, Intelliware’s tech director. He explains that now every company is in some way a technology company, and matters related to technology go well beyond impacting just a small group of in-house developers.

“In the past IT departments and software developers were seen as a necessary evil, a cost centre, the cost of doing business,” he said.

“As software eats the world it’s now seen as your differentiator—your ability to out-compete—so the software you had from that era when it was considered a cost centre won’t support your new vision of how to compete.”

– Ben Hall, Technical Director at Intelliware

Why an Agile approach is key

While the word “Agile” has itself been singled out as the latest tech industry buzzword, it’s a lot more than just fluff in the replatforming context. According to IT Business Edge one of the most critical mistakes organizations make when replatforming is trying to do too much at once. That is because each additional feature that’s pursued in the same stroke significantly increases the chance that something will go wrong.

Partnership Vector

At Intelliware, we’ve undertaken dozens of successful replatforming projects, and we are seeing the demand for such efforts increasing enormously. Download our complimentary paper now and learn more about practices and strategies that will help you to make your replatforming program a successful one.

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