What is IT modernization?

IT modernization is the process of managing or moving away from old solutions and legacy systems — consolidating systems and workflows in favor of more automated, innovative solutions.

Especially during the pandemic, we have been forced to take a look at IT infrastructure for cybersecurity during work from home and for digital transformation in a time where automated intelligence and automation are more important than ever before. IT modernization efforts are critical to enabling artificial intelligence, improving connectivity, encouraging cloud adoption, and driving change management in an organization.

What are the benefits of modernization?

Enterprises are rethinking IT infrastructure priorities in the face of rapidly changing business demands. There’s a new demand for simplifying complex environments and increasing speed across the entire enterprise technology stack, including data centers. Stakeholders, IT leaders, and end users all demand immediate cost savings, operational agility, scalability, resilience, and security — driving change management and the need for new technologies.

In a data-driven world, apps need application modernization and IT systems need IT modernization.

IT modernization vs digital transformation

It’s important to note that transformation is not modernization. Digital transformation is about driving the evolution and creation of new business models, while modernization is focused on preparing your IT infrastructure, IT systems, technology, and products to succeed in a data-driven world.

Types of IT modernization:

Cloud migration

Hybrid cloud


Four steps to successful IT modernization

For most companies, IT modernization is a journey from legacy systems and traditional processes to a modern IT operating model. Successful modernization initiatives include the following: aligning IT with the business, simplifying and optimizing the existing IT infrastructure, application modernization, and operating securely in a hybrid environment while also preventing cybersecurity risks.

1. Align IT and business initiatives

Determine which initiatives fit within your overall business strategy — collaborate with CIO roles, IT Leader roles, and other senior management to create buy-in.
Business and IT must reevaluate plans regularly — constant feedback and business metrics will reshape IT modernization activities as you go.

2. Simplify IT

Overly complex systems prevent organizations from focusing on their overall modernization efforts. Aging legacy systems can be costly, detrimental to quality, and slow the pace of change. To optimize costs, organizations can implement a technology refresh that includes lean processes and automation, improving workload placement, and eliminating unused or underused systems.

Organizations can also continuously optimize the IT environment with automated workload management tools and implement software-defined networks. Modernizing IT frees up resources that can be immediately applied to innovating and improving customer experience.

3. Modernize applications

Many traditional organizations struggle to identify and implement a workload placement strategy for cloud environments. The barriers can be technical or financial but can be mostly overcome by proving the business use case for each application. This application rationalization process includes workload placement — essentially, deciding where an application and data should live and how it will best serve those who use it.

After the business priorities have been established, the organization can assess and rationalize the application (leading to cost savings), modernize or transform the application (enabling speed, agility, and further savings), or deploy a cloud-based operating model — all while considering the security, performance, and financial constraints.

4. Operate hybrid at scale

Most large enterprises will have to maintain a hybrid IT estate in the near term, so they need an operating model that ensures the business can respond to market changes and continue to secure a much broader ecosystem as cloud resources grow.

Managing this type of hybrid architecture presents challenges, including the need to scale and integrate cloud systems with the current IT environment. This requires organizations to develop new strategies for working in harmony with resources on-premises, in data centers, or in the cloud.

The new operating model ensures integrated operations, intelligent automation at scale, and the ability to leverage analytics, AI, and lean processes for greater insights, speed, and efficiency.

A secure ecosystem is critical to the success of new operating models. All data is encrypted for security and privacy. Identities and roles are verified as organizations phase out passwords. Data traffic is monitored for cloud-to-edge awareness, compliance, audit, and response for cybersecurity.

The security concept of Zero Trust is key to protecting the ecosystem in a hostile environment. Government agencies, federal agencies, and the federal government may rely on this as well.

Planning your IT modernization strategy

CIO roles need to build a use case for modern IT. They must merge modernization efforts with business strategy, explore IT services that can free up money for new investments, and find ways to streamline apps and data to improve analytics programs. Successful execution requires a plan that covers people, processes, AND technology. Here’s where to start in your roadmap:

  • Build for speed and insights. Modern IT environments help organizations increase speed and unlock data for the business. Data is a strategic asset that supports new ways of doing business. A modern platform enables deep analytics, including data mining, machine learning, and predictive analytics, which results in proactive end-to-end management and better business intelligence.
  • Design toward NoOps. Intelligent automation is key to creating agile operations and costs closely aligned with the business. Automation harnesses real-time data and machine learning to increase efficiencies in application services, development, IT delivery, security, and more. Ultimately, IT should design toward NoOps, a further evolution of the operating model that relies on automation and self-healing systems.
  • Plan on change management in your organization. Start with a core IT team and scale from there. As companies move to the cloud, IT must adopt new ways of automation for the full technology stack. Software engineers focus on increasing automation and reliability. By eliminating the silos, organizations can lower costs while increasing application reliability.
  • Don’t do it alone. IT Modernization is challenging, but you don’t have to approach it by yourself. Take your first steps in your roadmap to find providers who have integration expertise, cloud management capabilities, and a proven track record of successful digital transformation at scale. Highly effective partners can offer a clear point of view, proven methodologies, and an evolved partner ecosystem that delivers technology-independent solutions.

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