Maximize Cloud Benefits by Modernizing with Amazon Web Services ModAx

by Saurabh Sharma, Gavin Guzman, and Bob Kellogg | on

“Lifting and shifting” your on-premises workloads to the cloud is a great option to move to the cloud quickly. Organizations that take this approach are in a good position to take advantage of the benefits of modernization in the cloud. While the initial move to the cloud may provide cost savings and improved scalability, modernizing your applications and development processes can unlock even more benefits.

In this blog, we share how Modernization Experience Based Acceleration (ModAx), a transformation methodology developed at Amazon Web Services, can help accelerate modernization on the cloud.

Why should you modernize your applications?

On-premises applications aren’t commonly designed to take advantage of the capabilities that the cloud offers, such as elasticity, resiliency, automation, and such. Workloads migrated using a lift and shift approach continue to have these limitations, and your technical debt carries over to the cloud. Tightly coupled, monolithic applications and a lack of DevOps automation will limit the much-needed agility that your business needs. As organizations look to increase the pace of innovation and build new customer experiences, modernizing how they build and operate applications is key. So, what is a modern application?

A modern application is the combination of modern technologies, architectures, software delivery practices, and operational processes that lead teams to deliver value more quickly, frequently, and consistently. It takes advantage of operational and security tooling to increase the reliability and consistency of deployments while making it safe to deploy many times a day. The Amazon Web Services cloud platform provides the ready-made building blocks needed for building and sustaining software. Technologies like serverless , containers , and fully managed databases are the keys to fast, secure modern applications that meet even the most challenging business demands. This allows teams to focus their time on business value and innovation rather than IT internals. Infrastructure provisioning, code deployment, testing, threat detection, monitoring and alerting, and disaster recovery can be fully automated on the cloud.

Common modernization challenges

Let us look at the common challenges that slow down modernization efforts and prevent customers from achieving cloud benefits. The first challenge is refactoring of complex monolithic applications as they are difficult to understand. These applications grow over time and are often hard to unwind due to tight coupling and legacy code written by developers that are no longer with the company. Second, developers may lack the skillsets required to modernize applications with microservices, containerization, and DevOps cloud technologies. This leads to development delays, complex and costly architectures, and introduces security vulnerabilities. Organizational silos are a third challenge. They are characterized by limited communication and collaboration between teams and can significantly delay technology modernization efforts. They impede information sharing, hinder collaboration, create resistance to change, lead to inefficient resource allocation, and promote a fragmented approach to modernization.

The fourth challenge is analysis paralysis. When an organization spends too much time analyzing options and weighing pros and cons, it misses out on opportunities to accelerate the modernization process. The cloud makes two-way decision-making a reality as it enables you to quickly correct course as you are aggressively innovating. Finally, modernization initiatives can be complex to manage as they require coordinating work across multiple teams that have conflicting priorities. It is critical to align stakeholders on business outcomes from modernization. The benefits of modernization should be quantified and tracked to demonstrate their value. Otherwise, companies will prioritize short-term goals and delay modernization initiatives that unlock long-term benefits.

Modernization Experience Based Acceleration (ModAx)

Amazon Web Services Experience-Based Acceleration (EBA) is the methodology that underpins ModAx, which combines an application assessment, enablement, and execution process to develop modernization muscle within teams.

Figure 1: The ModAx process

As shown in Figure 1, the ModAx process consists of two main phases: “Assess and Architect”, and “Build and Deploy”. In the Assess and Architect phase, a Modernization Assessment Workshop is conducted to evaluate an organization’s readiness for modernization. The workshop aligns stakeholders from different teams around modernization outcomes. In this phase, 2-3 applications are identified as potential candidates for modernization. The target state architecture and services involved are clearly defined and documented. This phase spans one week and sets the foundation for the subsequent Build and Deploy phase.

The “Build and Deploy” phase, lasting 4-6 weeks, involves detailed planning and preparation to deliver the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) features for the selected applications. Workstream leaders collaborate with Amazon Web Services Solution Architects or Partners to identify pre-requisite ModAx tasks, backlog activities, and dependencies. Regular meetings track progress and address any issues. Team members are trained on the skills needed to execute the modernization through Immersion days. This phase culminates in a 3-day ModAx all-hands-on-deck party, where teams come together to execute the scoped modernization activities, plan sprints, and work cross-functionally to build and deploy MVPs.

ModAx pathways

ModAx employs one or more of the below six pre-defined modernization pathways, as shown in Figure 2, to streamline application decisions and modernization approaches.

Figure 2: ModAx pathways

  1. Move to Cloud Native: This pathway is focused on breaking down monoliths into microservices, thereby enabling agile and scalable architecture.
  2. Move to Containers: The core idea behind Move to Containers is to help customers with the containerization of existing applications or moving existing container orchestration workloads to fully managed Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) or Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) .
  3. Move to Managed Databases: Amazon Web Services offers a variety of database solutions that customers can choose to modernize. This pathway focuses on modernizing with fully managed Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and an Amazon Web Services portfolio of purpose-built databases .
  4. Move to Open Source: This pathway focuses on moving existing .NET workloads to Open Source. Amazon Web Services’s scalable infrastructure and managed services further amplify the benefits of this transition, providing a reliable and efficient platform for hosting and deploying open-source applications.
  5. Move to Modern Analytics: The Move to Modern Analytics pathway revolves around the idea of helping customers with their data lake initiatives focused on data warehouse, data processing, and real-time analytics using Analytics on Amazon Web Services .
  6. Move to Modern DevOps: Using this pathway, customers can integrate modern DevOps practices and move to modern operations with automated pipeline deployment. By leveraging the Amazon Web Services suite of developer tools , organizations can further accelerate their digital transformation journey, delivering applications faster, more reliably, and at a lower cost.ModAx benefits

ModAx benefits

ModAx benefits companies at the organizational, management, and builder levels. It helps improve leadership alignment, identify and remove process roadblocks, break down organizational silos, and establish a scalable and sustainable working model. Managers benefit because EBAs help pinpoint adoption-related friction points, allowing them to accelerate toward meaningful outcomes on specific initiatives and ultimately reduce delivery pressure. Builders enjoy EBAs because they get to focus on specific tasks without interruptions and experiment with new architectures and Amazon Web Services Services under the guidance of Amazon Web Services experts. Refer to Level up your Cloud Transformation with Experience-Based Acceleration (EBA) on various types of EBAs and best practices to leverage them.

Listen to what Amazon Web Services customers have to say about ModAx EBA

Koch Industries- “EBA provided us with hands-on experience with real-life use cases. Not only having Amazon Web Services resources available for knowledge and troubleshooting, but having uninterrupted dedicated development time with our team members – which is not easy to get in reality was great. We caught issues early, came up with better designs, and built a better solution as a result. The collaboration and real-world implementation of the different technologies with existing applications really helped understand how to differentiate solutions and modernize to new architectures and technologies” – Mike Engle, Supervisor- Software Development, Koch Engineered Solutions (KES).

Baker Tilly article on – Why building and scaling a cloud modernization strategy is important to your organization’s bottom line.

“The Amazon Web Services EBA methodology was extremely effective in breaking down silos within our organization. What we accomplished in the EBA planning and 3 days onsite would’ve taken us months! Our Baker Tilly teams left the EBA truly inspired and motivated and have continued embracing new Agile ways of working.” – Sean Narsingh, Director of Cloud, Baker Tilly.

Get started with ModAx

Ready to get started on your modernization journey? Get in touch with your Amazon Web Services account team to learn more about ModAx and how it can help you accelerate your cloud journey. New to the cloud? Contact Amazon Web Services Sales to get started with transforming your business.

Tags: Modernization Accelerator, Experience based acceleration, EBA, Modernization, Organization Change, Culture Change, Modernization, Digital Transformation, Amazon Web Services EBA

About the Authors

Bob Kellogg

Bob Kellogg is a Leader of Customer Solution at Amazon Web Services. He leads a team of Customer Solutions Managers that support our enterprise customers on their cloud journey. Bob is also an ambassador for ModAx and EBA parties.

Gavin Guzman

Gavin Guzman leads Enterprise Customers through strategic challenges as a Customer Solutions Manager (CSM) at Amazon Web Services. Passionate about technology, he believes the world’s greatest challenges can be confronted by giving the right tools to innovative leaders..

Saurabh Sharma

Saurabh Sharma is a Technical and Strategic Sr. Customer Solutions Manager (CSM) at Amazon Web Services. He is part of the account team that supports enterprise customers in their cloud transformation journey. In this role, Saurabh works with customers to drive cloud strategy & adoption, provides thought leadership on how to move and modernize their workloads that can help them move fast to cloud, and drive a culture of innovation.