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Improving Microsoft Services Team: Application Modernization

Ken Ledyard // April 20, 2022

Microsoft

In our last post, Improving shared Microsoft’s Zero Trust philosophy, which is to never trust and always verify. We also looked at Microsoft’s technology pillars and guiding principles around Security. In this post, we are discussing application modernization. 

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Photo by Arif Riyanto on Unsplash

Application modernization commonly means shifting to a cloud-first approach for companies who are looking to gain efficiencies with items such as their technology applications, business processes, or data management. Rather than starting over with new applications, many companies will elect to migrate their existing on-premises technology. This is often referred to as lift and shift.  

By utilizing a lift and shift approach, companies are able to take instant advantage of cloud offerings. They can refine aspects of their current technology, while not having to incur the cost of completely starting over by rebuilding from scratch. Organizations often consider application modernization when their existing technology becomes dated or as new technology advances. 

Here are a few examples of what Improving is seeing as common market drivers today from our clients: 

  • Organizations wanting to leverage AI and ML 
  • Security concerns with aging applications 
  • Access to data 
  • Compatibility with other applications 
  • Looking to gain process or organizational efficiency 

Access to data is one of the leading drivers that we assist clients with today. We recently engaged with a fortune 500 health insurer to modernize their enterprise-wide data strategy. The organization was struggling with data integration and data sharing limitations in a highly regulated industry.  Inconsistent data, lack of a centralized location for the data, and no clear patterns between departments for ingestion and consumption of the data were all contributing factors to the struggles they were facing. 

Improving established a general scope for a new modern platform. We designed and implemented architecture to create an enterprise-wide data fabric, a self-services data mart, advanced analytical capabilities, and allowed for future integrations.

Our team determined the best application modernization solution was to utilize a combination of Microsoft Azure and Kafka to dramatically speed up data ingestion to Snowflake from various sources. Snowflake provided the back-bone to the centralized data services hub and served as the data warehouse for the system, creating a self-service data mark that allowed easy access to the data with the solution sitting in Azure.  

Improving modernized the solution by building software for easy management and creation of custom APIs for data helping streamline development. This reduces any issues, should setbacks be encountered. We also built several self-service tools to help the organization's data engineering team manage new requests to the platform and taught them to use technology to automate tasks that were previously performed manually.

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The new architecture of the modernized application eliminated years of technical debt and enabled contributions to the larger enterprise. The organization’s enterprise-wide data now has the ability to be accessed quickly. It created a set of ingestion and consumption patterns, allowing users to be more productive. 

Another benefit of this application modernization was the process identified business gaps, helped eliminate the siloing of data, and created a unified approach to handling the enterprise data. With modernization, the organization now has a centralized location for all their data. This can integrate with a Machine Learning Platform, a self-service data mart, and advanced analytics, allowing for more flexibility to grow with their business capabilities. 

This modern platform provides data from various departments as well as acquired entities to other realms of the organization. The modern platform also provides the tools to make faster and smarter business decisions.

To learn more about how Improving can help you with your application modernization strategy reach out to us. If you missed our last post, review our thoughts on Microsoft Zero Trust. You can also check out our additional security content from our Cloud Solution Provider webinars and our story of  Towpath Credit Union Case Study. 

This has been part 2 in a 3-part series discussing focus areas of the Improving Microsoft Services Team. 

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