From Legacy to Cloud-Native: Application Modernisation  


With an acceleration of cloud adoption, modernising applications to meet changing industry needs is a key requisite to improving business agility, resiliency, and efficiency. 

According to Amazon Web Services (AWS) benchmarking insights, shifting from on-premises setups to cloud infrastructure has a reported 27.4% reduction in overall spend per user, 57.9% in IT admin efficiency, 56.7% decrease in downtime, and 37.1% decrease in time to market.

In this webinar summary, learn more about what application modernisation is, its advantages and challenges, and how to get started with strategies outlined by the following industry experts:

  •  Mr Gunasekharan Chellappan, Cloud & Data Chapter Chair, SGTech
  •  Mr Dennis Goh, Singapore Public Sector Partner Development Manager, AWS
  •  Mr Jeff Doherty, APJ Business Value Program Lead, AWS
  •  Mr Anurax Lian, Solution Consultant, Simple Solution Systems 


What is Application Modernisation?

Application modernisation is the process of updating existing software applications and data storage systems to a cloud-based setup. This entails refactoring legacy technologies by combining modern infrastructure, architecture, and operational patterns.

Four modernisation pathways include: 

  1.  Move to Open Source: Freedom from proprietary licensed software with source code that is available for complimentary use or modification.
  2.  Move to Managed Databases: Usage of open source, fit for purpose, highly scalable databases managed and maintained by a service provider.
  3.  Move to Managed Cloud Services: Deploy applications rapidly and operate reliably at scale with services managed by a third-party provider.
  4.  Move to Cloud-Native Architecture: Agile, scalable applications fully hosted and maintained within serverless containers, and extraction of logic into microservices.

Adopting a Cloud-Native Approach

Cloud-native is about optimising cloud infrastructure to build applications using containers, microservices and serverless architecture:

  • Containerisation enables the packaging of an application in lightweight bundles of software and virtualises the operating system so that the package can be executed consistently across multiple environments. Cloud-native applications are built as a set of microservices packaged in containers, for example, as commonly provided by Docker running in a Kubernetes cluster. 
  • A microservice architecture defines an approach in which different functionalities of an application are split into independent services, which can be deployed in containers that communicate with each other via APIs or message queues.
  • Serverless architecture provides a way to build and run applications without having to manage infrastructure, thus allowing organisations to focus on business differentiators.


The shift from traditional monolithic applications to microservices in the cloud has various advantages ranging from facilitated maintenance and improved observability, to automated up-or downscaling of hardware resources according to needs.

Businesses can start by identifying which parts of functionality in their monolithic applications can be extracted, followed by tailoring the right approach based on specific migration needs.

One approach is known as the “Strangler Pattern”, which describes taking apart applications incrementally by creating events and APIs for various components of the legacy application, as opposed to breaking down monolithic systems at once.

Other modern ways of working include the general adoption of DevOps engineering practices, such as site reliability engineering (SRE) or setting up Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. 

How to Successfully Modernise Applications

Digital modernisation should start with an assessment of the business needs and readiness, as well as the potential increased value of migration. 

Five key business value pillars to consider are:
  1. Cost savings: Determining the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a modernisation project, which can be challenging when evaluating outdated servers, legacy applications, or forecasting potential costs. 
  2. Staff productivity: Efficiency improvements by function on a task-by-task basis. While cloud-native applications allow for rapid development, they also require a business culture that can keep up with the pace of innovation.
  3. Operational resilience: Reviewing the current ability of systems to provide continuous service availability and adapt to constant requirement changes.
  4. Business agility: Deploying new features or applications faster to meet existing and future business needs. 
  5. Security: Protecting applications and data from threats using built-in security capabilities such as task automation for updates, backups or disaster recovery.

Cloud platforms offer a broad portfolio of products and services to help businesses along their modernisation journey. AWS provides more than 270 services, and 4,500 software listings from 1,400 Independent Service Vendors (ISVs), which businesses can leverage on. 

Increasingly, organisations are modernising their infrastructure as a strategic priority to help unlock new value and innovation in mission-critical applications. Taking a step-by-step approach based on the assessment of benefits and risk factors is a key strategy to building a successful modernisation roadmap. 

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Join the SGTech Cloud and Data Chapter 

The SGTech Cloud & Data Chapter aims to:

1. Build capabilities of the industry by facilitating awareness of new technologies, related standards and access to new markets
2. Enable organisations to develop a competitive advantage by harnessing the power of cloud, data and analytics
3. Foster a vibrant ecosystem of providers and users from related industries 

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Published Aug 2022