Leveraging AWS for Effective Application Modernization

In this blog, we explore the significance of modernizing legacy applications, focusing on the use of Amazon Web Services (AWS). It provides an insightful overview of strategies and key AWS services vital for modernization, alongside real-world examples and metrics that highlight the benefits and outcomes of such initiatives

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Leveraging AWS for Effective Application Modernization

Modernizing legacy applications has become a top priority for many organizations today. As per Gartner, by 2023, 75% of organizations will have deployed automated, AI-driven modernization tools to transform legacy systems. The benefits of modernizing applications include improved agility, faster time-to-market, better customer experiences, increased innovation capabilities, reduced costs, and enhanced security.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a robust and flexible cloud platform that organizations can leverage to effectively modernize their applications. According to Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report, AWS continues to lead the cloud infrastructure market with a 32% share. With its broad and deep services, mature partner ecosystem, and proven enterprise capabilities, AWS provides an ideal environment to modernize legacy applications.
This article will provide an overview of effective strategies and key AWS services that can be utilized to modernize legacy applications. We will also look at real-world examples and metrics that showcase the outcomes organizations have achieved by modernizing applications on AWS.

The Need for Application Modernization.

Before we look at how AWS can facilitate application modernization initiatives, let’s understand why modernizing legacy applications is important:

  1. Improve Agility: Legacy applications using monolithic architectures lack agility. They require significant time and effort to develop, test, and release new features. Modern containerized microservices on AWS enable agile application development and deployment.
  2. Enhance Innovation: Modern components like AI, ML, automation, IoT etc. can be much more easily integrated with cloud-native applications rather than legacy apps. This speeds up innovation.
  3. Reduce Costs: Legacy apps require expensive hardware and data centers. Migrating to AWS cloud reduces total cost of ownership by 60% for many organizations. Automation further optimizes costs.
  4. Attract Top Talent: Developers versed with legacy languages are difficult to find. Cloud-native skills allow organizations to attract top-notch millennials.
  5. Improve Customer Experience: Delivering rich, personalized omnichannel experiences necessitates using modern cloud-native technologies only. Legacy apps pose limitations.
  6. Enhance Security: With capabilities like encryption, role-based access, event logging, traceability, AWS and modern architectures provide robust security which legacy platforms lacked.

As per IDC, organizations accelerate their modernization efforts across applications, infrastructure, and data platforms to clock in over 35% faster project deployment velocities using cloud platforms. AWS provides a multitude of managed services that organizations can leverage to refactor legacy applications in alignment with business objectives.

Key AWS Services for Application Modernization

AWS offers more than 200 services spanning compute, storage, database, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security, enterprise applications and other cloud offerings.

Let’s look at some of the most popular AWS managed services that are ideal for modernizing legacy applications:

  • Compute Services (e.g AWS Lambda, Amazon EC2) enable scalable and flexible computing capacity.
  • Container Services (e.g Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS)) provide environments to manage and deploy containerized applications.
  • Serverless Architecture (e.g., AWS Lambda) allows businesses to build and run applications without managing servers.
  • Database Services (e.g Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB) offer managed database services for various database engines.
  • Storage Solutions (e.g Amazon S3, Amazon EBS) provide secure and scalable storage options.
  • Migration Services (e.g AWS Migration Hub, AWS Database Migration Service) support the smooth transition of applications, data, and workloads to the cloud.
  • DevOps Tools (e.g., AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodePipeline) facilitate continuous integration and continuous delivery.

Key Considerations for Application Modernization on AWS

Based on recommendations from AWS and leading industry experts, here are some of the top considerations for successfully modernizing legacy applications leveraging AWS:

  1. Prioritize Business Goals: Before embarking on legacy modernization initiatives, organizations must identify and prioritize business goals tied to the effort - like faster customer onboarding, personalized recommendations, smoother transactions etc. The modernization approach should focus on achieving those business objectives.
  2. Assess Existing Platforms: Assessment of existing infrastructure and application platforms in terms of business alignment, technology debt, interdependencies, resource utilization and cost is crucial before modernization. This allows creating the right cloud migration strategy.
  3. Take an Incremental Approach: For de-risking, legacy modernization is best done incrementally - potentially beginning with less complex applications and then progressing to the complex, mission-critical ones. This agile approach reduces disruption and validates benefits earlier.
  4. Leverage Migration Tools: To simplify moving legacy apps to AWS, leveraging tools like AWS Application Migration Service, AWS Database Migration Service and AWS Server Migration Service help automate migrations. They reduce efforts significantly.
  5. Measure Outcomes: Define Cloud Smart success metrics aligned to business goals prior to embarking on modernization initiatives. Continuously monitor progress against those KPIs for rapid optimizations. This ensures cloud investments deliver maximum ROI.

Some of the other key considerations during legacy modernization include optimal resource planning on cloud, data security, leveraging partnerships for specialized skillsets and building cloud management best practices tailored for the organization. Adopting these strategies smoothens the modernization journey.

Driving Innovation with Modernized Applications

Let’s look at a few real-world examples of how organizations are driving innovation by modernizing legacy applications leveraging AWS:

  • Financial Services Firm Temenos redesigned its banking software products into independently upgradeable microservices-based architecture hosted on AWS leveraging Docker containers, APIs, AWS Lambda and other cloud-native services. This has made the platform much more agile, scalable and easier for banks to innovate on top of it.
  • Using AWS native services, PayPal migrated its customer identification and profile management application from a legacy Oracle RAC database to Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL. This has reduced database management overheads by 90% while cutting TCO by 50%. Enhanced fault tolerance ensures PayPal delivers always-on capabilities resulting in smoother customer experiences.
  • Leading hospitality major Hilton modernized several legacy applications into AWS leveraging microservices, AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway and other cloud-native capabilities. This has reduced change requests deployment time from a few months to a few hours driving significantly faster innovation. Hilton is able to roll out new features in just 2-6 weeks now.
  • Using AWS Graviton2 processors to run its modernized apps, fashion retailer Benetton saw a 45 percent cost reduction compared to prior IBM Power infrastructure. Gradually modernizing apps to cloud-native technologies ensured zero downtime during this transition. Boosted time-to-market for new launches, omnichannel experiences and global expansion were key motivations.
  • Leading stock exchange National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) modernized their trading applications from on-premises to AWS cloud leveraging microservices architecture. This has made launching innovative new financial products like derivatives trading simpler while reducing trading latency significantly. Their modern platforms now deliver sub-millisecond response times enabling smooth transactions even during high loads.

As evident from these examples, global enterprises are modernizing legacy systems to leverage AWS and cloud-native technologies to drive innovation in delighting customers, reducing costs and getting solutions to market faster.

Improving Operational Metrics via Modernization

Here are some encouraging metrics from industry sources that showcase the potential benefits achieved from successful modernization initiatives by leveraging AWS:

  • As per 2021 IDC global survey, organizations were able to achieve the following outcomes via application and database modernisation projects on AWS over 3 years:
    - 57% faster deployment velocity
    - 62% improvement in productivity
    - 45% higher infrastructure cost savings
    - 51% boost in business agility
  • According to Gartner, AWS customers see 60-80% cost reduction by running modernized workloads in the cloud and retiring expensive legacy data centers. Optimizing resources using automation and management tools delivers additional 25% savings.
  • Per Forrester Total Economic Impact Study, enterprises adopting AWS and modernizing apps, databases and infrastructure observed near 80% decrease in platform management costs. This frees up precious IT resources to focus on innovation.
  • Through a multi-year modernization program, leading energy company bp migrated 800 legacy apps including Oracle, SMTP and LDAP based apps to AWS cloud leveraging microservices, AWS Lambda, Amazon Aurora and other cloud-native capabilities. This reduced infrastructure costs by 30-40% while making the apps significantly more maintainable, resilient and agile to change.
  • Automotive manufacturing major Boeing tested workloads on AWS Graviton2 processors during legacy modernisation and observed the following improvements compared to prior Intel-based EC2 instances:
    - 40% better price-performance
    - 20% faster performance
    - 30% reduction in costs

These impressive metrics by replacing legacy hardware with next-gen AWS infrastructure showcase the transformational value achieved by enterprises across industries via effective modernization.

Best Practices for Application Modernization on AWS

Let’s look at some proven best practices collated from AWS cloud experts to maximize success during legacy modernization journeys leveraging AWS:

  • Begin by identifying easiest workloads to move based on least disruption and highest ROI followed by most complex ones
  • Utilize both lift-and-shift and re-platforming approaches based on app architecture, timelines and cost
  • Leverage AWS Schema Conversion Tool and AWS Database Migration Service to simplify database migrations
  • Modernize legacy Windows apps for best performance and lower TCO using AWS fleet manager
  • Adopt microservices architecture with API-first approach for greenfield application development
  • Implement CI/CD automation early leveraging AWS Developer Tools for rapid iterations
  • Instrument application performance metrics from start to spot-optimize regularly
  • Build cloud management capabilities internally with training, upskilling and cloud center of excellence
  • Evaluate serverless technologies like AWS Lambda to innovate faster at lower costs
  • Consult with cloud experts and managed service providers to incorporate best practices

These proven steps allow smooth transition to cloud-native technologies on AWS delivering maximum business value.


In closing, modernizing legacy applications by optimally leveraging AWS cloud-native managed services allows organizations to boost agility, innovation velocity, customer experiences, security posture and cost efficiencies significantly while future-proofing their applications. AWS with its unparalleled track record of enterprise adoption, continual innovation, extensive product portfolio and expertise in accelerating legacy modernization initiatives provides the ideal environment for transformation success.
Leading organizations across industry verticals are leveraging the strategies, services and best practices outlined in this article to effectively modernize legacy systems and propel their application innovation and advancement objectives. The encouraging business outcomes around improved productivity, deployment velocity, infrastructure costs reduction and enhanced business agility validate AWS’ differentiation in facilitating application modernization programs. By assessing existing environments, prioritizing business goals, taking an incremental approach and measuring outcomes; global enterprises can maximally benefit from legacy modernization pursuits on AWS as substantiated by compelling customer examples and industry metrics.

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