In a perfect world, every application would run like Netflix–by which I mean every application would be cloud-native, microservices-based, containerized and, in all other senses of the word, modern. Unfortunately, not every application can be transformed in these ways. Some of the most important enterprise applications–like those powered by SAP or Oracle–don’t lend themselves to architectural transformations simply because the vendors don’t support that strategy. As much as organizations might wish that they could re-architect legacy apps from the ground up, the reality is that they just can’t.
Fortunately, though, all hope is not lost if you have an enterprise app that you can’t containerize or “microservices-ize.” Even if you can’t “break down your monolith”–to quote the standard advice you’ll find if you read articles about how to modernize legacy apps–there are a variety of practical steps you can take to make legacy, monolithic applications look and feel (in most respects) like modern, cloud-native apps.
Here are four ways to make your enterprise monolithic apps more cloud-friendly, even if they’re not technically cloud-native.
Use Cloud Automation to Modernize Legacy Application Management
Most enterprise apps are compatible with the cloud in the sense that you can host them on cloud-based virtual machine (VM) instances using services like Amazon EC2.
By taking advantage of cloud hosting for enterprise apps, organizations can also leverage cloud automation tools, such as autoscaling policies and rules that automatically start or stop VMs. In this way, it becomes possible to deploy enterprise apps in a highly scalable, automated way. You get something that resembles Kubernetes-based orchestration, except your apps don’t actually run in containers on top of Kubernetes. They’re just monoliths that benefit from cloud automation tools.
Deploy Load Balancers to Optimize Performance
Load balancers, which automatically manage network traffic flowing to and from applications, are another critical tool that organizations can easily leverage when they migrate legacy applications to the cloud.
Although configuring load balancers for enterprise apps hosted in the cloud is not a strict requirement, doing so can substantially improve application performance and reliability because load balancers help to ensure that requests are directed at application instances best able to handle them. They prevent situations where one instance of your application is overwhelmed with traffic while another sits idle.
Again, this is something that platforms like Kubernetes also do for microservices apps. But, as I’ve explained, you don’t actually need your app to run as microservices to take advantage of load balancing. You can do it with monolithic legacy apps, too.
Adopt an Everything-as-Code Strategy
When your app lives in the cloud and is managed by cloud automation tools, it becomes possible to manage most aspects of application operations via code. Specifically, you can:
● Use infrastructure-as-code (IaC) tools to automate infrastructure provisioning and setup.
● Automate application configuration management using code rather than applying configuration changes manually.
● Codify operational processes, such as application updates and backups, instead of relying on manual operations.
Practices like these, which enable a strategy known as everything-as-code, significantly reduce the amount of time and manual effort that engineers spend managing applications. They also provide consistency and minimize the risk of errors due to human oversight. And there’s no reason why you can’t leverage these practices for legacy apps as well as modern ones.
Integrate Legacy Apps With Modern Toolchains
If your enterprise app is hosted on-premises, you probably manage it using tools and processes designed solely for it. But when you move an enterprise app to the cloud, it becomes possible to manage the application using the same integrated toolchain you deploy for other applications and processes.
You can, for example, take advantage of cloud-based monitoring tools to continuously collect data about application performance and generate automated alerts when something is wrong. Likewise, you can regularly create image-based backups of your application.
This toolchain-based operational strategy is another way to streamline enterprise application management, even in situations where you can’t rewrite or containerize the application itself.
Conclusion: Getting More From Legacy Apps
Just because you have a legacy enterprise app that you can’t transform into microservices doesn’t mean you have to settle for legacy management and operational practices. Modern automation tools combined with modern operational strategies like everything-as-code make it possible to achieve an enterprise application management experience that closely parallels that of fully modern, cloud-native apps, regardless of which architecture your app actually uses.