IT Modernization: A Primer in Software Intelligence for Fast Transformation


IT modernization is a continuous evolution of an organization's existing application and infrastructure software, with the goal of aligning IT with the organization's ever-shifting business strategies. IT modernization has wide ranging impact; from reducing infrastructure (data centers, email systems and redundant tools and services), IT process improvement (ITSM, Agile, IT purchasing and governance), Data and Information Management Strategy, Cybersecurity and IT Risk Management.

IT modernization's goal is to create new business value from new and/or existing applications or systems.  As such, the applications supporting an organizations process are front and center of any IT modernization effort.

According to McKinsey, end-to-end IT modernization can have significant positive effects on operations and productivity:


Because it can be a daunting task, we’ve put together a quick primer to help you keep the terminology straight and learn how to accelerate IT modernization.

IT Modernization Glossary

  • Agile refers to modern design processes that take incremental, iterative approaches to rapidly complete smaller projects that are brought together to create a finished product.
  • Application modernization is the refactoring, re-purposing or consolidation of legacy software programming to align it more closely with current business needs. The goal of an application modernization project is to create new business value from existing applications. An application is a program designed to perform a specific function directly for the user or, in some cases, for another application program. Keeping legacy applications running smoothly can be a time-consuming, resource-intensive process, especially when the software becomes so outdated that it becomes incompatible with newer versions of the underlying operating system (OS) or system hardware. “The key is to understand if your problem is caused by technology, architecture or functionality of the application, and how each modernization approach improves those aspects,” Stefan van der Zijden, research director at Gartner.
  • PaaS (aPaaS) is a cloud service that offers development and deployment environments for application services. They can also include integration services, identity services, and other platform services that have traditionally been called middleware.
  • Cloud migration can refer to moving processes or data from on-site systems to off-site cloud computing providers or from one off-site service provider to another. This could be something as simple as uploading all documents from a local PC to a service like Google Drive. In business situations, it’s usually more complex, and involves moving entire processes or large volumes of data off site.
  • Data security refers to a focus on securing information, so it’s protected from unauthorized access whether it resides behind your firewalls or on remote systems or devices.
  • High-productivity application PaaS (hpaPaaS) provides an application platform that facilitates rapid development of cloud native solutions. An hpaPaaS service includes a ready-to-go application platform along with additional point-and click development tools and capabilities for using declarative programming tools to create automated workflows.
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is cloud computing configuration that provides virtualized computing resources over the internet such as physical or virtual servers or storage arrays that a third-party service provider host for you. Organizations choose IaaS because it can be faster and more cost-efficient to operate without having to buy, manage and support the infrastructure. With IaaS, a business can lease infrastructure from another business.
  • Microservice Architecture is a method of developing software systems that focuses on building single-function modules with well-defined interfaces and operations. Microservice architecture enables the continuous delivery/deployment of large, complex applications and while enabling organizations to evolve their technology stack.
  • Monolithic systems are system that have monolithic architectures, in which functionally distinguishable aspects (for example data input and output, data processing, error handling, and the user interface) are all interwoven, rather than containing architecturally separate components. Monolithic systems are siloed components based on proprietary or unsupported technologies that constrain change.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing that provides a platform and environment to allow developers to build applications and services over the internet.The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines PaaS as the capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly configuration settings for the application-hosting environment.
  • Rebuilding an application or service in the cloud using IaaS, PaaS, aPaaS, or hpaPaaS.
  • Refactoring an application or service using IaaS. This is common in hybrid-cloud solutions where customers might re-deploy an ASP.NET app as a Microsoft Azure Web App, and keep other parts of the application on-premises.
  • Rehost means you keep the same IT strategy for systems—whether on-premises or a refresh in the cloud. Rehosting or lifting and shifting an application or service to a similar infrastructure in the cloud, such as an IaaS service that provides a virtual server.
  • Replacing an application or service with a SaaS offering, such as Microsoft Office 365.
  • Software as a service (SaaS) is a cloud computing offering that provides clients access to a vendor’s cloud-based software. The applications reside on remote cloud networks accessed through the web or an API. Through the application, users can store and analyze data and collaborate on projects.
  • Technical Debt, first defined by Ward Cunningham, is a business concept heavily promoted by industry as an effective method of valuing negative equity in software. Technical Debt is calculated as the cost of fixing the structural quality problems in an application that, if left unfixed, put the business at serious risk. Like financial debt, Technical Debt incurs interest in the form of the extra effort it takes to maintain and enhance an application due to the structural quality flaws in the code. Technical Debt can be the result of intentional compromises made by the technical teams to deliver applications faster to business, or due to the inability of the developers to develop high quality applications. Whatever may be the reason for the technical debt, the key is to measure and manage it proactively before it gets out of control.
Pete Pizzutillo
Pete Pizzutillo Vice President
Pete Pizzutillo is Vice President at CAST and has spent the last 15 years working in the software industry. He passionately believes Software Intelligence is the cornerstone to successful digital transformation, and he actively helps customers realize the benefits of CAST's software analytics to ensure their IT systems are secure, resilient and efficient to support the next wave of modern business.
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