Why Cloud-Native App Modernisation Is On The Rise

Jerry Wallis
13 min read
Application modernisation through cloud-native approach

Prioritising agility, cost-effectiveness, and swift time-to-market stands as the primary goals for the majority of organisations embarking on their cloud journey. Many opt for the straightforward ‘Lift and Shift’ model to transition their workloads to the cloud. 

However, they increasingly recognise that the cloud extends beyond traditional infrastructure-as-a-service, offering enhanced value and innovation through adopting cloud-native strategies and architectures.

Persisting with outdated applications and architectures hampers innovation, optimisation, and agility and undermines the core objectives of migrating to the cloud.

The future of application development lies in being cloud-native, presenting significant potential for impactful business outcomes, and enabling the rapid and efficient transformation of ideas into production. 

Companies need to cultivate a new “cloud-native” mindset to fully embrace this shift by reorganising their people, processes, and workflows and developing applications with the cloud at the forefront. This necessitates an application development strategy that aligns seamlessly with the overarching cloud strategy, utilising cloud-native architecture.

Presently, market demands emphasise the urgency of faster time-to-market and application modernisation. Strategies for modernisation include the transformation of applications into cloud-native microservices and the re-platforming of traditional apps on container platforms.

This article will go over app modernisation leveraging the cloud-native approach, as well as its benefits and strategies you can use to set yourself up for success with this intuitive model for application development.

What Is Cloud Modernisation?

App modernisation using a cloud-native approach involves transforming traditional applications into modern, cloud-native architectures to leverage the benefits of cloud computing. This approach aims to enhance scalability, agility, and resilience while taking advantage of the cloud’s inherent features.

Cloud Modernisation strategies provide unparalleled flexibility during the application modernisation journey, ensuring a smooth transition to the cloud. Employing a cloud-native microservices approach allows organisations to leverage the inherent scalability and flexibility of the cloud. 

The use of cloud-native tools in application modernisation facilitates concurrent and seamless application operation, eliminating barriers that hinder productivity and integration and creating novel user experiences.

Why Embrace a Cloud-native Application Structure?

Shifting to the cloud has the potential to provide organisations with increased control over costs and operations. In addition to transitioning from a Capital Expenditure (Capex) to an Operational Expenditure (Opex) model, the cloud provides the adaptability to scale resources in accordance with business demand and cost management requirements. 

Adopting cloud-native architectures involves containerising existing applications, embracing microservices, and implementing server-less architecture. These approaches address the imperative for rapid scalability, optimising compute resources, and controlling costs. 

In today’s dynamic business landscape, shorter development cycles, swift integrations, and deployments are essential. The integration of development and deployment cycles, facilitated by DevOps tools, significantly reduces the entire cycle time from days to hours.

However, merely transferring applications to the cloud does not automatically ensure the realisation of these advantages. To fully leverage the benefits of the cloud, this is where application modernisation becomes more of a necessity.

Fundamentals of Cloud-native Applications

When venturing into the creation of a new cloud-native application or modernising an existing one, developers should consistently adhere to the following guiding principles.

Embrace the Microservices Architectural Approach

Divide applications into microservices to facilitate incremental, automated, and uninterrupted enhancements, all without causing downtime.

Leverage Containers for Optimal Flexibility and Scalability

Containers consolidate software, including its code and dependencies, into a unified location, enabling seamless operation across diverse environments. This ensures unparalleled flexibility and portability, especially in a hybrid multi-cloud scenario. Additionally, containers empower swift scaling, both up and down, with Kubernetes container software, providing user-defined scalability.

Embrace Agile Methods

Agile methodologies expedite the creation and improvement process. Developers can rapidly iterate updates based on user feedback, ensuring that the working application version aligns as closely as possible with user expectations.

Challenges Of Cloud-native Application Development

Crafting a Compelling Business Case

When building the business case for embracing cloud-native solutions, it’s crucial to extend the focus beyond mere cost considerations. While cost and operational efficiency are significant factors, attention should also be given to enhancing speed, fostering business agility, improving customer experiences, and mitigating technical risks.

Navigating the Technical Complexities

The adoption of cloud-native approaches introduces new intricacies in platforms, operating models, and security measures. Successful management involves concurrently overseeing multiple platforms as businesses transition from legacy systems to innovative solutions.

Adapting to This Radical Change

Effective management of organisational, personnel, and cultural shifts is paramount. Expect changes in roles, responsibilities, and skill definitions. Ensuring a smooth transition requires a proactive approach to managing and embracing these transformations.

Enhancing your business with cloud-native solutions goes beyond costs—it’s about optimising speed, agility, and customer experiences while minimising technical risks.

Managing the complexities arising from multiple platforms during the transition is vital for a seamless evolution. Embracing change involves skill redefinition and adapting to new roles and responsibilities. Proactive management is critical.

How To Adopt Cloud-native Modernisation

Successfully navigating the challenges of cloud-native development and strategically transitioning often involves substantial changes to processes, operations, people, and organisational culture.

Cloud-native transformation goes beyond a mere technology swap or adopting a different programming model. Companies undertaking this journey must anticipate comprehensive and widespread changes.

Containers play a pivotal role in cloud-native development by allowing the packaging and isolation of applications along with their complete runtime environment. This facilitates seamless movement of applications across different environments while maintaining full functionality. Additionally, containers contribute significantly to IT security. Integrating security into the container pipeline and safeguarding infrastructure ensures that containers are reliable, scalable, and trustworthy.

Containers also foster collaboration between development and operations teams by delineating areas of responsibility. Developers can focus on applications while operations teams manage the infrastructure. Technologies like CRI-O, Kubernetes, and Docker play a crucial role in simplifying, accelerating, and orchestrating the development and deployment of applications.

Effective development should align with business events and requirements, serving diverse business needs such as competitive or marketplace events, introducing new products and services, innovation, and interactions with end-users, clients, or customers.

Architecture in cloud-native computing encompasses four distinct layers: application software development, service scaling, application network, and container orchestration platform. Establishing and adhering to architectural tenets is paramount for achieving trustworthy cloud-native computing.

Common Strategies For Modernising Applications

Various approaches to modernisation, such as re-platforming and rearchitecting (commonly known as refactoring), exist to enhance the efficiency of strategic, business-impacting applications. Conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis is the recommended method to determine the most suitable approach for each application undergoing modernisation.


This approach empowers applications to leverage foundational cloud functionalities and achieve cost optimisation. Typically involving a lower level of effort, this process entails up-versioning components like databases to align them with cloud infrastructure and enhance overall efficiency.


On the other hand, rearchitecting an application is often more intricate, involving substantial code rewriting to ensure applications fully benefit from cloud-native functionalities. While this approach may be more time and resource-intensive, refactored applications can unlock operational and cost efficiencies provided by the cloud. 

This is because they can fully exploit cloud features such as elasticity and auto-scaling, resulting in significant savings. Business-critical legacy applications are often prime candidates for rearchitecting due to the substantial benefits it can yield.

Other Modernising Strategies

Implement containerisation for the monolithic application, aiming to reduce costs and streamline operations by transitioning applications to a cloud runtime. This process allows for the reuse of a significant portion of the existing code during the containerisation process.

Facilitate access to on-premise assets through APIs. APIs serve as a bridge for legacy assets that pose challenges in migrating to the cloud, establishing a seamless connection between applications.

Consider refactoring into microservices. Fragment the monolithic architecture into smaller, independently deployable components. This enables swift modifications within individual components without the necessity to handle the entire codebase and deploy it all at once. Additionally, it facilitates the seamless integration of new services without disrupting existing ones.

Gradually phase out the monolith through a process known as “strangling.” This involves incrementally retiring the monolithic application that cannot be transformed into microservices, ensuring a smooth transition.

Competitive Edge through Strategic Application Modernisation

Strategic application modernisation can be your ticket to leapfrogging to a more competitive position. Unlike climbing a ladder, it’s akin to hopscotching to your desired spot. A robust modernisation strategy allows organisations to set clear end goals and navigate directly towards achieving them. Here’s how!

Establish a Scalable Cloud Foundation

Modernised applications should anchor on a scalable and automated cloud foundation. This secure landing zone ensures efficient operation and manageability.

Containerise Inflexible Components

For elements that cannot be replaced with cloud-native services, containerise them. This enhances operational consistency, increases portability, and ensures efficiency in areas without feasible cloud-native functionality.

Embrace Microservices Architecture

Explore advanced architectures like microservices for improved human resource utilisation. Microservices empower small teams to work independently, removing bottlenecks, enhancing flexibility, speeding up delivery, and reducing risk.

Implement Full-Stack Automation

Add automation across the environment through full-stack automated deployment using Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and CI/CD pipelines. This ensures that the rearchitected application benefits from cloud-native services and is automatically updated and maintained for continuous improvements.

Leverage Advanced Technologies

Assess the potential of advanced technologies like AI/ML to enhance the modernised application further. Integrating these technologies can unlock new business opportunities by providing advanced data insights and features that align with evolving customer expectations.

These steps may require advanced cloud knowledge, so don’t hesitate to seek assistance. An experienced partner can guide you through mainframe modernisation and monolith refactoring and advise on applications that might benefit from retirement or transitioning to a SaaS model, eliminating the need to manage bespoke applications.

Key Components of App Modernisation

Microservices Architecture 

This development approach involves breaking down monolithic applications into smaller, independent “microservices”. Each microservice performs a specific business function and communicates with others through APIs. This enables easier development, deployment, and scaling of individual components.

Leveraging microservices architecture enhances continuous delivery and deployment by organising applications as a set of loosely connected services. This approach boosts modularity, simplifies development and testing, and empowers different development teams to create, deploy, and scale their services independently.

Organisations can enhance agility by breaking down their monolithic applications into distinct components, allowing for independent development, scaling, and maintenance.


Packaging applications and their dependencies into containers, which are lightweight, portable, and consistent across different environments. Docker is a popular containerisation technology that allows developers to build, ship, and run applications consistently.


Using container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of containerised applications. Kubernetes provides tools for efficiently managing containerised workloads in a dynamic environment.

DevOps Practices

Embracing DevOps principles to integrate development and operations teams. Automation, continuous integration, and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines are employed to streamline the software development and deployment processes.

DevOps emphasises speed and efficiency in transitioning from design to production. Automation plays a key role in eliminating human involvement in the production process. By providing developers and infrastructure experts with the same tools to manage changes in code and infrastructure, DevOps accelerates the creation of a production environment within days or hours, a significant improvement from the previous weeks or months.

Some of the most common DevOps tools include GitHub, Bitbucket, Docker, Travis CI, Codeship, TeamCity, GitLab CI, Buddy, Shippable, Semaphore, Circle CI, Solano Labs, Heroku, Amazon Web Services, and Botmetric, among others.

Serverless Architecture

Serverless Architecture, a cost-effective method,  complements microservices by deploying applications with minimal infrastructure involvement. This event-driven and function-centric system is increasingly essential for digital ecosystems. Serverless architectures enable developers to focus on revenue-generating functions, eliminating time wasted on non-value-added issues.

According to IDC survey data, the adoption of DevOps to manage applications is on the rise, with organisations expecting this percentage to increase from 25 per cent to nearly 33 per cent in five years. This strong adoption indicates that the foundation is in place to support cloud-native development practices and applications.

Agile Development

Agile Development facilitates rapid and effective development by embracing change and implementing processes that are fast and adaptive. Through time-windowed development cycles and continuous feedback loops, Agile fosters the creation of nimble organisations capable of quick innovation. For example, the U.S. Air Force shifted to Agile practices, allocating 70 per cent of its budget to research and development by running apps on multiple clouds.

Last Component – The Cloud

The Cloud, as a highly flexible delivery platform, accommodates various architectural and deployment styles. It supports big, monolithic systems, large virtual-machine deployments, nimble clusters of containers, and extensive serverless functions. While the cloud itself is a crucial part of the overall cloud-native picture, understanding that it is one component of the broader landscape is essential for maximising business benefits and value.

Real-world Case Studies of Application Modernisation

An enterprise research company identified 40% of its applications as ideal candidates for refactoring during cloud migration. Utilising an AWS landing zone, the firm strategically re-platformed and migrated applications, leveraging containers and automated pipelines. This approach maximised their ability to benefit from advanced AWS functionality.

A leading consumer packaged goods company that has been operating applications on mainframe systems for over 50 years opted to close its data centre and migrate to AWS. Thanks to the cloud’s pay-as-you-go model, the company reduced operational support costs by 25% and infrastructure costs by 65% through a comprehensive process and new DevOps practices.

Modernised applications, capitalising on cloud scalability, automation, and security, drive superior process optimisation, productivity, and utilisation. By implementing the outlined strategies, any enterprise can gain heightened control over operations, unlocking the full potential of cloud-native technologies.


By adopting a cloud-native approach, organisations can modernise their applications to meet the demands of today’s dynamic business environment, improving efficiency, scalability, and resilience while optimising costs and reducing time-to-market.

In conclusion, the increasing adoption of cloud-native app modernisation is reshaping the application development landscape, offering organisations unparalleled agility, scalability, and efficiency. As businesses strive to stay competitive in the ever-evolving tech ecosystem, embracing intuitive technologies becomes imperative. 

Cloud-native app development stands at the forefront of this transformative journey, enabling streamlined processes and unlocking new avenues for innovation. If you’re intrigued by the possibilities of cloud-native app development and wish to explore its potential for your organisation, we invite you to reach out to us. Take the next step in your CX evolution – book a discovery call with our consultants, and let’s embark on this transformative journey together.

Published On

December 11, 2023