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The secret to modern scalable architecture

Why quality is key for legacy system modernization

According to Boston Consulting Group, 70% of digital transformations fail to meet expectations, deliver on time, or stay on budget


For some businesses, the roadblock is executive buy-in. For others, it’s resources. But many organizations at the mid-market to Fortune 500 level agree on the need for cloud adoption and system modernization and have no qualms about paying for it. At those companies, the problem is a more foundational issue.

The foundation of modern, scalable architecture is quality.  

The most sophisticated code and trendiest solutions can only take you so far. Without a solid process that prioritizes continuous delivery, a clean commit history, and unit testing, your legacy system modernization efforts will stall out. 

Legacy system modernization requires a culture shift. 

At a certain point, traditional enterprise architecture hits a scalability ceiling, and performance begins to suffer. Most organizations accept that strategic cloud adoption is the logical next step, but fewer understand the culture shift that a modern, scalable architecture often requires.  

Putting a problem into a box and calling it Kubernetes does not equal modernization. In an asynchronous cloud environment, you can’t afford to indulge a maverick developer mentality. It may sound counterintuitive, but the best way to achieve true scalability, and see cloud ROI faster, is by creating and enforcing a culture of accountability to old-school best practices. 

Building a quality-first culture starts with clear communication. 

Learning a new way of operating is hard. That’s why change management plays such a critical role in successful digital transformations. When it comes to retro-engineering a quality mindset into your IT culture, you’re requiring process changes and new skill acquisition — and those don’t come easy.  

Successful change at the team level takes transparency, and a commitment to clear communication. To build organizational buy-in and help dev teams take ownership of a shift to a quality-first development culture.

Quality starts with testable code.  

You can’t inspect quality into a system. When you’re building a modern, scalable architecture you can’t afford the risk of last-second changes with huge downstream implications. Instead, commit to continuous delivery so that code reviews move beyond a formality to deliver meaningful impact. 

Quality builds momentum.  

A reliable workflow of testable code, where potential problems are spotted, assessed, and addressed right away, enables faster development. The small up-front time investment leads to significant efficiencies down the line, laying the groundwork for increasingly streamlined and sophisticated solutions.  

Quality delivers massive time savings.  

Entrenched developer cultures sometimes resist inexpensive and fast quality solutions like unit testing. It may not be flashy, but adding one extra function to do a unit test is a much simpler fix than the downtime you incur from uncontrolled code.  

Quality unleashes your team.  

Organizations sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to avoid simple quality fixes like unit testing. But when there are problems in production, they always come back to code. Rather than taking on an expensive, fragile, time-intensive work-around, getting developers up to speed on unit testing helps you get more utility from your team now and prepares your architecture for the future, when today’s tribal knowledge may not be as readily available. 

The most important journeys start with one step — and digital transformations are no exception.  

Change is hard. But overcoming resistance to achieve legacy system modernization is worth it. When your goal is a modern scalable architecture, the first step is always quality. 

If your modernization efforts have gotten off-track and you’re feeling stuck, we can help. Fusion helps enterprise organizations align their goals, refine their processes, and identify the right technologies to step into the future with confidence. 

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About the author

Tony Leatherwood

Tony Leatherwood is a software architect in the technology and cloud practices at New Era Technology. He is passionate about domain modeling, SOLID principles, unit testing, functional programming, and leading and educating teams towards more efficient and reliable code.

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