What Is Software Application Modernization?

Think of software application modernization as leveraging the efficiency of modern applications without compromising the assurance and familiarity of legacy applications.

You know that there are benefits to digitizing your brand and providing services through the cloud. But you’ve probably also heard that not every software program that runs successfully in-house can be migrated to the cloud seamlessly. 

That’s where software application modernization – repurposing your legacy code and applications to align with various cloud compliance standards – comes into play. But what is software application modernization really, and what does application modernization mean? 

Let’s break down the terminology so you’ll understand what legacy application modernization is, and why it matters. 

We’ll also take a look at some application modernization strategies and trends you may want to know about as you consider taking this important step forward. 

 What is Meant by Application Modernization?

Application modernization is the process of updating old software programs to run or run on modern technology (or do both). Specifically, app modernization usually involves replacing, repurposing, or updating the application and the platform they run on. 

To be clear, application modernization services are not the same thing as new software development. Modernizing legacy applications involves preserving some aspects of the legacy code, framework, language, and uses, while new development creates an application from scratch.

What is Enterprise Application Modernization?

Enterprise app modernization is the process of updating old software so you can derive new business value or uses from it. 

When you realize continuing to use an enterprise application as-is will slow your business process, limit your growth, hurt service delivery, or compromise your data security, it’s time for a legacy migration.     

But why do companies use legacy systems?

Training staff to use entirely new applications can be surprisingly time-consuming and resource-intensive for some organizations. For many companies, banks, and even government departments, legacy systems have become a way of doing things.

Adopting new programs takes time – time to transfer data, to learn new processes, and to adapt to the organization’s way of doing things. In many cases, legacy applications have served these organizations well, so they seem reliable and affordable – until they aren’t. 

So, suppose you want to use new technologies to improve your workflows, but still need a legacy application’s assurance and familiarity. In that case, app modernization may be an excellent option to new development (or settling for an outdated, resource-hogging system).  

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Why is Application Modernization Important?

The top goal of most legacy application modernization projects is to update an old program to make it faster, more secure, or better suited to the modern computing needs of the client it serves (or all of the above).

But there’s more.

Replacing legacy code in an application can help it run on entirely different frameworks to its current one. For example, you can decide to modernize existing legacy applications to migrate to the cloud. Updating old software can also help you take advantage of new computing power, such as machine learning, Big Data, and artificial intelligence.

Through application modernization, you can also renew old programs so that they can better handle automation – which is especially helpful when you run complex operations at scale. Modernizing software is crucial to securing your confidential data against hacking attacks such as phishing, especially if your program connects to the internet.

Modernizing can also be a more affordable way to turn existing software assets into modern applications with new uses. It’s a slow, but sure way to transition from one system to another over an unspecified period – all without causing too much disruption or productivity or financial losses.

Finally, you can use app modernization to turn a legacy application into an efficient software-as-a-service (SaaS) for a vast user base or multi-location teams. 

Now, let’s see how modernizing legacy application works in practice…    

What are Some Examples of Application Modernization?

Imagine the impact of any of the following:

  • You place your application into a modern interface – without changing how it works – to make it more intuitive for younger employees.
  • You change a legacy application’s programming language to a more web-friendly one so that you can take advantage of the digital movement.
  • You move an on-premise application to the cloud to make it a native web app that your remote teams can log into securely from anywhere, at any time.
  • You repurpose an old program because the underlying operating system or system hardware is no longer compatible, despite the legacy app holding considerable value.
  • You update an application’s framework to migrate it to a cloud-based platform where you can take advantage of the provider’s more capable infrastructure to improve your customer experience.  

But this list isn’t exhaustive. These are just five examples – you may have many more reasons for upgrading your existing application.

How Do You Modernize a Legacy System?

When it comes to application modernization approaches, you can rehost, refactor, or replatform legacy software to make it more useful, efficient, and last longer.


Rehosting is the process of migrating an application from an older framework to a newer environment, without making significant changes to how it works. 

If your core business operations tie too tightly to most aspects of the application, you may consider this method – also known as the ‘lift and shift’ migration approach. 


Refactoring is the process of restructuring or rewriting significant legacy code so you can derive new uses or make it run on an entirely new platform. With this approach, you can make major changes to how the software works, making refactoring the closest you can get to new application development.

  • Through refactoring, you can make your application more portable and scalable by implementing containerization technology.
  • You can also reconfigure your extensive application into smaller, more independent units using microservices.
  • You can also even incorporate automation or orchestration to help the program run sophisticated tools with minimal human input, especially at scale.   


Replatforming involves upgrading specific aspects of an old application to make it work on a new platform. It can be as simple as upgrading its backend database, making replatforming the ‘sweet spot’ between making major changes (refactoring) and playing it safe (rehosting).

Ultimately, however, the best application modernization strategy for your organization will depend on your specific needs. Talk to your legacy application service or IT partner about your current and future goals. That way, you can brainstorm the best application modernization tools for those needs.

If you need help understanding what is software application modernization, reach out to the experts at Simpat Tech. We’re happy to take a look at your specific situation and offer our suggestions on the best approach to your modernization project.

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