Despite all the white papers, blogs, ads, and other materials produced on the topic, there continues to be a misperception about cloud migration. While the benefits of cloud computing are well documented, simply moving to the cloud doesn’t ensure they will all be realized. That’s especially true if the apps weren’t designed and built with the cloud in mind. Enter app modernization.

Application modernization entails taking existing apps — typically on-premise, legacy, and monolithic — and changing their platform infrastructure, internal architecture, and features. Doing so allows them to take advantage of the cloud’s speed, agility, and scalability. Modernizing apps also generate other benefits such as enabling an organization to build new capabilities and deliver them more quickly.

The Cloud Makes a Difference

There is a downside to modernizing monolithic apps. Monolithic apps usually have complex coding and data integration requirements. Or they are so heavily coupled to existing systems and infrastructure that the time and effort required outweigh the benefits.

That’s why the specific cloud platform used in a modernization project makes a difference. It’s also why at ClearScale, we consider AWS to be the preferred cloud partner for app modernization projects — particularly for Windows apps.

AWS offers an abundance of tools and resources for facilitating app modernization. These include microservices architectures, containerization, purpose-built databases, serverless computing capabilities, and more.


The most common pattern of app modernization involves refactoring and breaking down a monolithic app into small, loosely coupled microservices. AWS offers all the necessary building blocks for doing this, including compute, data storage, networking and messaging services, logging and monitoring and DevOps.

It also provides a broad range of resources such as open-source projects, whitepapers, workshops, and blogs.


Containers play an important role in app modernization because they remove access to resources, such as storage, from the legacy application itself. This speeds the refactoring of a legacy app since the containers handle much of the access to native cloud resources.

AWS container services offer the broadest choice of services for running containers, which may explain why 80% of all containers in the cloud run on AWS. There’s AWS Fargate for serverless compute and Amazon EC2 if control is needed over the installation, configuration, and management of the compute environment.

There’s also a choice of container orchestrator to use: Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) or fully managed Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). In addition, Amazon Elastic Container Registry (ECR) is a fully-managed Docker container registry that makes it simpler and faster for developers to store, manage, and deploy container images.


Part of modernizing apps involves modernizing the underlying operational databases. Amazon Aurora serves as a highly available, secure, and cost-effective database foundation for developing and delivering cloud-ready apps. It features pay-as-you-go pricing and MySQL and PostgreSQL compatibility. AWS also offers options to accommodate numerous database use cases. For example, if a database is needed for user search history, Amazon DynamoDB can handle the massive data volume and accommodate quick lookups for personalized searches. For session state, in-memory store for sub-millisecond site rendering, there’s Amazon ElastiCache. Amazon Relational Database Service makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a


As for serverless computing capabilities, AWS provides a set of fully managed services. For example, AWS Lambda lets users run code without provisioning or managing servers and pay only for the compute time consumed.

AWS CodePipeline can be used with the AWS Serverless Application Model to automate building, testing, and deploying serverless applications. AWS CodeBuild integrates with it to provide automated builds. And AWS CodeDeploy can be used to roll out and test new Lambda function versions.

Amazon Aurora Serverless is an on-demand, auto-scaling configuration for Amazon Aurora (MySQL-compatible edition). The database automatically starts up, shuts down, and scales up or down based on an app’s needs.

Amazon RDS Proxy, a highly available database proxy, manages thousands of concurrent connections to relational databases. This makes it easy to build highly scalable, secure serverless applications that connect to relational databases. There’s also Amazon EventBridge, a serverless event bus service that makes it easy to access application data from a variety of sources and send it into your AWS environment.

The “And More”

There are many other resources available from AWS to enable AWS application modernization and cloud migration. For example, the AWS Well-Architected Framework (WAF) offers proven best practices for app modernization. The AWS Well-Architected Tool helps cloud migration teams review the state of their workloads and compare them to the latest AWS architectural best practices.

As mentioned earlier, at ClearScale we’ve found AWS to be particularly ideal for Windows app modernization projects. That’s in part because of resources like AWS Funding Programs, a variety of AWS-sponsored programs that provide discounts, credits, incentives, and other funding to assist in various aspects of Windows workload modernization. We’ve also completed several successful modernization projects using AWS services. You can read some of them here.

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