AWS Cloud Operations & Migrations Blog

Transitioning from Migration to Modernization on the Cloud


Migrating to cloud is the first step in modernizing the IT landscape. By completing the migration, the enterprise is laying the foundation for a more modern, agile, and secure IT environment. However, in many organizations, the initial momentum built during migration often slows down and leads to a stall. The true potential of cloud adoption lies in the subsequent modernization of applications and development methodologies, unwrapping compelling benefits. Organizations often struggle to articulate the value proposition for modernization and map it to clear business outcomes.

This blog post provides best practices to sustain the momentum of the initial migration and transition into a modernization phase to maximize cloud adoption benefits.

Benefits of Modernization

Modernization is a combination of modern technologies, cloud-native architectures, software delivery practices, and operational processes that lead to realizing business objectives more quickly and consistently. Modernization can unlock more benefits beyond lift-and-shift migration.

Scalability.  Modernized applications can dynamically scale to meet changing demand, providing improved performance and availability compared to traditional, monolithic applications. More importantly, only specific components that require additional capacity need to be scaled, rather than the entire platform that hosts the application.
Cost efficiency.  Utilizing cloud-native technologies and managed instances enables reduced costs associated with infrastructure and licensing. The ability to efficiently utilize resources at a granular level, thereby reducing the overall cost footprint.
Reliability.  Modernized applications are inherently designed with cloud-native technologies that are architected to be resilient, geographically distributed, and self-healing, reducing downtime and improving overall reliability.
Speed of Innovation.  Enables faster delivery of new features and functionality, making it easier to test new ideas and quickly adopt new capabilities. This enables the organization to respond quickly to market changes and reduce customer feedback loops, maintaining a competitive advantage.
Integration. Cloud-native applications can easily integrate with other cloud services, enabling you to build more complex and sophisticated systems seamlessly.
Operational Efficiency.  Cloud-native solutions are designed to be managed and monitored through serverless or managed instances, reducing the complexity and effort required for upgrades, patching, and security management. Increasing productivity and allowing organizations to focus on building customer value.

 Best Practices for Successful Modernization

As organizations embark on the modernization journey, there are some best practices that are recommended for successful modernization implementations. These measures are important, to make sure there is a cohesive and concerted effort towards modernization and that the overall strategy and business benefits are not lost along the way.

Stakeholder engagement. For every modernization initiative, it is important to have an IT stakeholder as well as a business stakeholder. Stakeholders play a crucial role in managing user expectations, alignment with business objectives, change management, and influencing business process changes. Stakeholders are critical to achieving modernization goals.

“Think Big, Start Small. This is a powerful mindset that will allow organizations to set challenging goals that push boundaries to achieve more. You achieve goals by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable milestones, which allows for effective evaluation of the strengths of processes, resource skills, and the overall modernization approach.

Organization Structure. The Cloud Operating Model defined for the migration phase served a very specific purpose: to gear the IT organization towards moving to the cloud. As the organization transitions to the modernization phase, it is important to evaluate the operating model and adjust it based on overall business goals and modernization objectives. Measure the effectiveness of the cloud operating model on a regular basis and adjust as required with the objective of meeting the specific needs of the organization.

Automation. Automation can help organizations realize the full benefits of modernization. It increases the speed to market for new initiatives and enables rapid deployments with minimal manual interventions. Automation reduces manual errors and frees up resources from operational activities.

Automation should encompass every aspect of the development lifecycle, including provisioning with infrastructure as code (IaC), application development, testing, and deployment activities.

Center of Excellence. The Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is a critical spoke for the customer to standardize processes and build patterns for cloud modernization. The CCoE needs to be expanded beyond the cloud platform team to include application development teams across lines of business. The CCoE team builds reusable reference architectures and provides documentation on where to apply and how to use them. They also incorporate governance through automated guardrails into their offerings to prevent misuse.

Skills Training. Preparing employees for modernization is a critical aspect of the cloud transformation journey. If the employees do not have the required skill sets in the appropriate cloud-native tools, it will take longer to modernize apps and result in lower quality. Skills are best learned in a peer-to-peer model, making community building in organizations a key requirement for success.

Modernization Strategy

Defining the right modernization strategy is critical to accomplishing business outcomes, maximizing cloud benefits, and avoiding technical debt. Evaluate your application workloads and identify candidates for modernization along with their dependencies, integration patterns, performance needs, and business value.

The modernization strategy can be achieved by following one or more of the modernization pathways illustrated in Figure 1. These pathways can be implemented as pure modernization initiatives or as part of the migration to cloud.

pathways for modernizing

Figure 1: Modernization Pathways

The right modernization pathway for an organization will depend on a number of factors, including application age and complexity, budget, and business goals. One or more of the below patterns can be used to achieve modernization goals.

 Microservices. If the application is monolithic, large, and complex, it may be a good candidate for microservices. Microservices is an architecture where a monolithic application is broken down into independent components. Microservices provides the flexibility to scale and manage each component independently.

Serverless Computing. Applications that are event-driven, contain variable workloads, or have short-lived processes are good candidates for serverless computing. It allows the team to build applications without having to provision or manage servers. This increases agility with reduced operational costs.

Managed Services. Managed services, such as purpose-built databases, are where the cloud provider manages the infrastructure, including optimization, scaling, and reliability. With this approach, teams can achieve greater efficiency, reduced operational costs, and improved security without having to manage the underlying cloud infrastructure.

Containerization. With this approach, the application and its dependencies are packaged into isolated containers that improves portability and scalability. The key use cases for containerization are Commercial Off the Shelf applications, IoT devices and microservice components.

If any application in the IT landscape does not fit any or a combination of the above patterns, leave it in its legacy state. Modernization is a means to drive business value, with reduced cost, improved agility and resiliency. It is ok to leave applications in a legacy state, if there is no true business value in modernizing them.

Build the Business Case

It is critical to align the business case with the overall modernization vision and the company’s business objectives. While a modernization strategy is defined at the organization level and implementation is realized at the application level, Modernization generally takes longer to complete, and the business case needs to be tailored for each line of business or application group.

Following are the key considerations while creating the business case:

Enabling agility and innovation. Articulate how modernization will increase business agility and allow innovation. Measure agility based on development and deployment time, scalability, elasticity, time-to-market, and increased reliability.

Assessing risk. Include a risk assessment that identifies potential risks and challenges associated with the modernization project. Evaluate risks across the following dimensions: technology maturity, business readiness, stakeholder commitment (Business and IT) and change management.

Measuring success. Outline the expected outcomes of the modernization initiative and set clear KPIs for measuring success. The KPIs should be quantitative with a clear measurement criterion that can be used to compare against the legacy system.

Reducing cost of ownership. Cost reduction is a critical factor for customers to move towards modernization. Compare the unit metric cost of each aspect of the application versus the estimated unit cost of a modernized solution. The unit metric cost comparison should include compute, storage, network bandwidth, APIs and transactions, licensing, resiliency, upgrades and bug fixes and time-to-market.


Modernization is a journey with no end state and certainly does not stop at migration. The cloud is a capability that organizations should leverage to gain a competitive advantage rather than treat it as a data center replacement. Modernization should be a deliberate strategy across people, processes, and technology. The ultimate goal of modernization is to transform the organization into a nimble and cost-effective entity that is ready to innovate and drive business growth.


AWS. (2021, November 22). An Overview of the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework.

AWS. (2022, Jul 14). Tracking the Effectiveness of Cloud Adoption

AWS. (2023, Jun 19). Navigating the Cloud Migration Bubble: Turning Your Bubble into a Blip

AWS. (2023, May 09). What is a cloud center of excellence and why should your organization create one?

AWS. (2023, Apr 21). Business Value is IT’s Primary Measure of Progress

AWS. (2021, Feb 23). What is a unit metric?

About the author:

Swaroop Prabhakaran

Results driven leader with a focus on cloud adoption and digital transformation. Passionate about working with business and IT leaders to accelerate innovation with the goal to drive business outcomes. He has extensive experience in program management leveraged to drive revenue growth while leading high performing teams across Business and IT organizations.

Nishant Singh

Sr Customer Solutions Manager(CSM) with AWS dedicated to retail, Consumer packaged goods (CPGs) and digital banking customers. Passionate about helping customers build new value-driven solutions with customer business outcomes using AWS.