Cloud Native Ecosystem / Software Development / Technology / Sponsored / Contributed

The State of Application Modernization, 2022

17 May 2022 7:59am, by

Gordon Haff
Gordon is technology advocate at Red Hat, where he works on emerging technology strategy and writes about tech, trends and their business impact. He is a frequent speaker at customer and industry events. Among the topics he works on are edge, blockchain, AI, quantum, cloud native platforms and next-generation application architectures. His books include 'From Pots and Vats to Programs and Apps' and 'How Open Source Ate Software.'

Konveyor has a unique position in the open source community due to its focus on building out and supporting tools to help applications migrate to the hybrid cloud. Konveyor includes tools like Tackle, Move2Kube and Crane, all of which are built to help rehost, replatform and refactor applications so that they are comfortable in the cloud.

Recently, with the help of project member Red Hat, the Konveyor community polled enterprises who are planning to or have adopted Kuberenetes about their activities, thoughts and plans. The result is the 2022 State of Application Modernization Report.

We surveyed 600 people by phone, including 300 from the United States, 150 from the U.K. and 150 English speakers from the Asia/Pacific region (Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore).

The questioning took place in October and November of 2021. Half of the respondents were IT decision-makers (ITDM), 25% were backend developers and 25% were software architects.

In this article, we’ll dig into the key results of the survey and dive deeper into some of the reasons for them. If you’d prefer to watch a video about these results, here are Illuminas CEO Jay Shutter and Red Hat’s Jonathan Recinos discussing the results:

Why Are They Modernizing, and What Are They Modernizing?

Our respondents had a wide range of motivations and applications to deal with in their enterprises. But the underlying reasons and technological motivations behind their decisions varied by region. The United States is very much driven by SQL, .NET, R, C# and Java EE. The U.K. and APAC regions, however, favor Python, PHP, JavaScript and Ruby.

Definitions of what exactly modernization means were different by region as well. In the United States, application modernization tends to mean moving to a microservices-based cloud architecture. In the U.K. and APAC regions, it tends to mean moving to a cloud-based CI/CD model.

Modernization Is Happening Now

It’s clear that there is urgency to roll out migration tools. Among those who were migrating or planning to, we found that they plan to modernize 54% of their custom applications during the next year and over a quarter during the next six months. Only 20% expected the modernization to take more than two years. It’s clear this is happening right now.

That said, it’s not all smooth sailing, and this doesn’t happen overnight. While some regions haven’t progressed far enough in their application modernization journey to experience serious barriers, others (notably the United States) report that choosing a straightforward approach can be challenging. Organizations have many options to choose from and each option presents varying levels of complexity.

Companies Expect a Shift to Hybrid in the Next 2 Years

According to those who responded to our survey, the next two years should see a shift from purely public cloud use to a more hybrid approach that incorporates private cloud hosting as well. While 98% of respondents today said that their applications are hosted in the public cloud, 43% indicated that they also host in off-premises private clouds.

Respondents were also asked where they saw their applications being hosted two years from now. Those who would host in off-premises private clouds increased to 55% while the public cloud forecast dropped 10 percentage points to 88%, indicating that some companies may be planning to pull back.

Motivators for Modernizing Existing Applications to Kubernetes

The survey tells us modernization is mostly driven by the need for reliability, scalability and security. Decreasing costs were also on the list, but as we frequently see in other surveys about technology adoption or change, it’s not the driving factor.

Migration Can Be Expensive

Moving an application to the cloud can take time and effort. That’s money, when it comes to developer time being monopolized. But in our survey, 20% of respondents indicated that intend to repurchase software or tools for migration purposes.

Konveyor’s open source tools, most notably Forklift and Crane, can help with many of these aspects of rehosting. Forklift is focused on migrating VMs to Kubernetes and provides the ability to migrate multiple VMs to KubeVirt with minimal downtime.

Crane is a rehosting tool that meets a different use case. Developers and operation teams may often want to migrate between older and newer versions of Kubernetes, evacuate a cluster or migrate to different underlying infrastructure. Crane can assist with this as it helps organizations to migrate applications between Kubernetes clusters.

The fact that organizations are looking to expend funds to solve the migration problem isn’t surprising when you see what their priorities are.

Scalability and Reliability Are the Top Reasons for Migrating

How are companies going to measure the success of their application modernizations? Decreased costs are one factor. Costs always matter to some degree; ask anyone who has ever owned a budget. But increased reliability (especially in the United States) and scalability were at the top of the list, overall, with security high up as well.

This was a question that had significant regional differences. Improving security was ranked significantly higher for APAC than the other regions, and even edged out increased scalability there. APAC was also much more likely to measure increased customer satisfaction, especially relative to the United States.

The US Is Further Along than Others


We don’t generally find striking differences between regions, but we do sometimes see more subtle ones that form a pattern, as was the case here.

In this case, we see the United States uniquely defining app modernization as using microservices architecture in the cloud, while the other two regions defined it as improving CI/CD. This suggests that the United States is further along in app modernization. Having a well-developed CI/CD pipeline is foundational to microservices and other cloud native technology approaches.

We see something similar crop up with respect to barriers and challenges. The U.K. and APAC haven’t faced many barriers. It’s reasonable to assume that’s because they haven’t gotten far enough into the process yet. By contrast, the United States is focused on the difficulty determining the right approach, suggesting that they’re actively figuring out the best way to implement a modernization strategy across their application portfolio.

Hybrid Is the Future

Our survey respondents all have one thing in common: They see container-based, cloud-hosted microservices as the future of their application estates. While the manner, method and timelines for migrating their legacy applications to the cloud vary from company to company, the fundamental needs and desires are mostly the same within regions.

Every company sees the cloud as a way to increase application scalability and reliability. The path to getting to that new cloudy world is different for each company, but the tools they can use to get there remain the same. The Konveyor Community invites you to read the full report and to check out its free open source tools for help with migrations.

Image by Hands off my tags! Michael Gaida from Pixabay