App modernization at VMware
IT Thought Leadership

Accomplishing App Modernization at VMware

by: VMware IT Director Sarita Kar, VMware Senior Director of IT Applications Balaji Parthasarathy, VMware IT Director for CDTO Modern App Platform Mukund Yadav

App modernization is much more than just adopting new technologies. Any organization embarking on an app modernization journey must invest in modern technologies while using its existing application portfolio. When organizations across the globe were left paralyzed due to a global pandemic, only those that were thinking ahead, survived! VMware was one such organization and was able to move its entire workforce to remote working, in just one weekend. VMware embarked on the app modernization journey years ago and didn’t stop, even during a pandemic.

The challenge/s

Investing in modern technologies comes with a major challenge—the coexistence of new technologies with existing applications. So, balancing the investment in modern technologies while maximizing the existing application portfolio investment is critical.

“Every organization has different priorities. The best way to look at it is like an athlete. In the game of hockey, what makes a great player is one who knows where the puck is going to be rather than where it is now. The same applies to any transformation,” said VMware Sr. Director for IT Applications Balaji Parthasarathy.

He added that “our focus is on how we realize more value with an impactful investment decision that encompasses several things:” 

Transformation zones—these zones are characterized by mission-critical apps that are disruptive. This provides more opportunities to maximize returns. Then comes the other zones, such as the incubation and performance and productivity zones.

The second most important thing is how to scale without every team reinventing the same thing. This requires a platform mindset—accountability for services and scalability as a platform (enabling capabilities).

Infrastructure to support app modernization journey

VMware IT Director, Chief Digital Transformation Office, Modern App Platform, Mukund Yadav highlighted the importance of the infrastructure in supporting the app modernization journey. For example, as an organization, VMware:

  • Rearchitected our platform to enable app modernization in support of our journey toward becoming a SaaS company.
  • Rearchitected several applications to increase business agility and application delivery velocity by building microservices for elastic cloud infrastructure.
  • Hosted these applications on the modern application platform to leverage its exceptional scalability and resiliency.

How we prepared for the app modernization journey?

VMware IT focused on:

  • Identifying high-value apps (falling in the Transformation Zone—Mission Critical and Disruptive). 
  • Building a domain-driven design framework. 
  • Using foundational platform capabilities. 
  • Applying evolutionary vs. a revolutionary approach to app modernization. 

Dos and don’ts during the app modernization journey

Start with a problem or a transformational opportunity rather than a solution looking for a problem. In the context of modernization, this is very important. Calibrate over a period of time to evolve into microservices: API-first, cloud-native and headless (MACH) architecture: 

  • Microservices: individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed and managed. 
  • API-first: all functionality is exposed through an API, making it possible to tie together two or more applications or services. 
  • Cloud-native SaaS: software-as-a-service that leverages the full capabilities of the cloud, beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling of highly available resources. Functionality is updated manually, eliminating the need for upgrade management. 
  • Headless: the front-end user experience is completely decoupled from the back-end logic, allowing for complete design freedom in creating the user interface and for connecting to other channels and devices (existing applications, IoT, A/R, Vending Machines, sensors).

Things to focus on from the platform operations perspective:

  • Start the platform build with the end state in mind.
  • Look toward the platform with a consumer mindset.
  • Provide as much self-service as possible for onboarding applications onto the platform.

Technology trends impacting the app modernization journey

  • Architecting for the future involves the need to accept distributed systems as a reality 
  • keep trust (security, compliance, and privacy) at the center, above all the features
  • Think beyond features and build for flexibility, reliability, scalability, operability and performance as first citizen(s)
  • Understand that success is driven by consumption and adoption of the service 

A multi-cloud strategy is vital from the availability perspective. Availability should be at the top of the agenda for any SaaS company, and the cost of providing that extra “nine” goes up exponentially as it is not practical to be completely dependent on one data center or one cloud provider. This means that on one side we have to make sure that we write applications that can run on any cloud; and on the other side, we have to set up a vendor-neutral platform, such as for application development, so the team won’t have to worry about where the application will eventually run.

Future tasks/challenges

The real challenge is finding the balance between being able to ensure seamless deployment of any changes while ensuring a vendor-neutral platform. While the Dev/Ops mindset accelerates digital delivery, production systems still need efficient monitoring as part of our digital transformation.

For more information, listen to the third episode of our Digital Transformation series.

VMware on VMware blogs are written by IT subject matter experts sharing stories about our digital transformation using VMware products and services in a global production environment. Contact your sales rep or to schedule a briefing on this topic. Visit the VMware on VMware microsite, read our blogs and IT Performance Annual Report and follow us on Twitter.


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