Nov 06, 2020

Why Re-hosting Is a Failed Approach to Application Modernization

John Bratanov

John Bratanov

Why Re-hosting Is a Failed Approach to Application Modernization

Businesses running legacy monolithic frameworks and software that can’t scale and can’t meet the demand of customers need a digital transformation. One requirement that’s a key to success is application modernization. But there’s a common approach that doesn’t work.

The other day, I was reading a Credera blog post, The Alchemy of Application Modernization and Developing a Strategy. It’s a good read on Credera’s approach to application modernization for legacy systems based on five R’s: retire, replace, rationalize, re-architect, and re-platform.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to perform a few of those five R’s. Digital transformation has substantially increased opportunities in legacy application modernization over the last five years or so. When COVID-19 changed the way businesses need to adapt to challenging customer demands, many organizations moved up timelines due to the risk of being passed up or replaced by competitors.

But from these experiences, I submit there’s another “R” that should be discussed. You won’t find this on any five R references because it’s (in our opinion) an anti-pattern:


Re-host is also known as “lift and shift.” Re-hosting means moving from one data center to another or one platform to another, usually in the cloud, without addressing any fundamental issues.

The Problem With Re-Hosting

Although re-hosting has minimal risk in moving workloads to the cloud, it’s not an application modernization strategy that improves your business agility, security, or any other problems the other “R’s” address. It does have its place in cloud migration strategies, but usually only as a stop gap.

Some argue that re-hosting is a stepping-stone to application modernization. However, my observations with past re-hosting projects show there is a misunderstanding by executives who believe they just accomplished application modernization by moving to the cloud. They want to see results that an application modernization project would accomplish, but they won’t see them.

Application Modernization in the Cloud

Cloud services is similar to a traditional data center from a web application perspective. The only difference is cloud service providers manage and own the hardware and you just rent the usage from them. They add services which you would normally need to build or over provision to meet scaling, security, and other components required in a web architecture. The cost of using cloud services can be substantially lower than having to pay for over-provisioned and under-utilized hardware and software just to meet demand a couple of months out of the year.

The cloud has made it easier to build and manage applications, as you don’t need to wait weeks or sometimes months for software purchase approvals to support requirements such as scaling, build and test systems, security, and network changes. However, moving legacy applications which don’t support scalability, compliance, or customer expectations will still need application modernization after re-hosting to the cloud.

Don’t Forget to Re-Architect

Some of the missed expectations in re-hosting comes from how digital transformation, cloud services, and application modernization are intermingled when presented by vendors to business customers. Let’s look at these three in more detail to help clear up the confusion.

  • Digital transformation has many components from processes, culture, customer experience, and technology. One of the tenants to digital transformation is the ability to meet market demands very quickly. Gone are the days of waiting 3, 6, or even sometimes 12 months for products and services to be available online.

  • Application modernization helps customer with legacy systems to reduce the cost of operational and compute resources, increase the frequency of product releases, and improve availability and resiliency which supports the overall digital transformation strategy by taking advantage of newer innovative frameworks.

  • Cloud Services helps application modernization with improving availability, scalability, fault tolerance, cost optimization and productivity. Demands for new product and feature releases can be met with many built-in automation tools integrated into cloud services.

As someone who’s experienced digital and cloud transformation, I’ve had to walk many clients through the buzzwords, marketing hype, and misunderstandings of what it all means. Some of these buzzwords seem to overlap in presentations as technology vendors try to lure you into believing their products or services will solve your transformation challenges.

Achieving Application Modernization

There are many strategies and solutions to application modernization. Try looking through Credera’s five R’s to choose the best strategy.

We hope this clarifies that re-hosting to the cloud alone will not solve the need for application modernization.

If you need help or have questions, please feel free to contact us at Credera can help with knowledge and experience performing this type of assessment and can assist you with an application modernization roadmap for your organization.

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