What is the best way to update your applications in a more contemporary manner?

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What is the optimal approach to upgrade your applications in a more modern style?

The process of revamping IT systems and applications to align with current internal and external needs is widely acknowledged by most organizations. However, determining the best way to go about this can be a challenging task. Recently, Red Hat, a member of the Konveyor community, collaborated with research firm Illuminas to explore how organizations are approaching their modernization journey. The Konveyor community offers open-source tools to modernize applications by rehosting, replatforming, and refactoring them to Kubernetes and cloud-native technologies, presenting a variety of tools to kickstart the modernization process. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

The 6 Rs Framework

When faced with multiple avenues to tackle a task or a problem, having a structured framework can be immensely helpful. For application modernization, particularly within Kubernetes-based development platforms, a widely used model is the 6 Rs framework. Originating from Gartner’s 5 Rs in 2010, this model has become popular as organizations grapple with transitioning their legacy applications to the cloud. The 6 Rs framework offers a structured approach:

  • Retire: Discontinuing applications that are no longer necessary
  • Retain: Maintaining critical applications until they need refactoring
  • Rehost: Shifting applications to the cloud without architectural changes
  • Replatform: Optimizing applications while migrating to make them cloud-enabled without altering the core code or architecture
  • Refactor: Rearchitecting applications to be cloud-native, like containerizing workloads or adopting a serverless architecture
  • Repurchase: Transitioning from perpetual licenses to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model

Diversifying Approaches

Organizations are adopting diverse strategies for modernizing custom applications, tailored to the specific needs of the applications being modernized, the organization’s maturity, and the roles within the organization. It’s essential to address application modernization on a case-by-case basis rather than opting for a one-size-fits-all approach.

While some applications may no longer be required and can be retired, a significant portion falls under the technical debt category, necessitating minimal modifications. Other applications may require a substantial overhaul or even complete rearchitecting to align with modern cloud-native standards.

The Role of Refactoring

A portion of respondents (15%) plans to refactor applications directly to a cloud-native architecture, leveraging approaches outlined in Red Hat’s architecture guides. Refactoring existing applications to be cloud-native involves a significant commitment and is often preceded by less labor-intensive modernization steps.

Most organizations opt for an incremental modernization approach, initially rehosting and replatforming applications before embarking on the more intensive refactoring phase. The emphasis lies on a systematic and phased modernization journey.

Embracing SaaS Solutions

While in-house application development retains its importance, there is a growing trend towards integrating Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. Approximately 13% of respondents plan to repurchase applications and transition to SaaS models, enhancing basic applications with partner products and integrating them with enterprise ecosystems for enhanced functionality.


There is a sense of urgency in modernizing applications to enhance reliability, security, and scalability. The focus has shifted towards modernizing existing legacy infrastructure and applications, rather than solely concentrating on delivering new cloud services. Technologies like AI are beneficial, but their efficacy lies in supporting core business functions.

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