In this era of AI, the pace of innovation is accelerating at an unprecedented rate, triggering a paradigm shift in how businesses think of and deliver digital experiences to their customers. More applications and digital experiences are getting enhanced with AI every day. In fact, 81% of surveyed organizations believe AI will give them a competitive edge.1 Applications are where AI comes to life and are the path to driving business impact.

However, AI isn’t just a catalyst for new, intelligent services. It is shifting the way applications are built and deployed, and placing new requirements on businesses to modernize their infrastructure, processes and application architectures. Simply put, many of the legacy models for supporting applications will not work for the wave of AI-enhanced, data intensive applications that are arriving in this new era.

Modernization: An imperative for innovating with AI 

The focus and demand for AI is creating an urgency to modernize existing applications, creating new opportunities to innovate with AI and enhance business processes. Businesses are accelerating modernization efforts to meet the demands of their digital and AI transformation. They are adopting cloud native architectures and principles to better facilitate AI adoption and creating a flexible platform that is purpose built for AI and ensures all applications are served with the optimal performance, scale, and security. In her talk on the May 8, 2024 Azure Application Modernization Webinar, Jessica Hawk, Product Marketing Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Azure Data, AI, and Digital Applications sheds more light on Driving Innovation Through Modernization in the Era of AI.

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Modernization goes beyond just lifting and shifting application workloads to cloud virtual machines. Modernization is optimizing those applications for the cloud and innovating by infusing AI to make them more intelligent.

Scalability and flexibility: AI applications have higher requirements for scale and flexibility due to data intensity, the complexities of AI models, the required business impact, and the need for agile development practices to support the fast pace of innovation. If they fail to meet these requirements, AI apps fall short of the expectations and value they drive for businesses. Whether building new applications or modernizing existing ones, cloud platform services offer the flexibility to scale needed to meet business needs, ensuring businesses can respond swiftly to opportunities and customer needs. 

Data integration: Intelligent applications and datea are inextricably linked. A a critical building block for intelligent apps is access and integration with organizations’ business data. Modernizing to be cloud-centric enables better access to the data needed to drive intelligent apps, even across data sources. This integration is crucial for AI models that drive intelligent applications, enabling them to deliver richer insights and more personalized experiences to customers.

Innovation and competitive advantage: Perhaps the greatest promise for intelligent applications is the ability to accelerate or enhance innovation. But achieving this promise requires a union of platform and developer services that enables developers to build at speed, freely access the services they need, and adapt without the friction and complexity of traditional infrastructures. The cloud is an enabler for innovation, providing the tools and services necessary for developer teams to build and deploy intelligent application easily. Modernizing legacy applications to the cloud not only provides the needed scalability and flexibility, it also provides development teams with the right tools and services to build and deploy intelligent apps quickly.

Enhanced security: As with all paradigm shifts in applications, the advent of intelligent apps necessitates rethinking the way that we infuse security into the application, data, and platform—with an unrelenting focus on protecting business and customers. Legacy applications unfortunately aren’t the most secure, modernizing them affords businesses the security needed for their business and customer’s data.
Furthermore, we know the path to modernization isn’t all rosy and easy, with a lot of organizations not yet achieving the goals they set for their modernization projects. Even with the incredible pace of innovation in intelligent apps, we must remember that we are just at the beginning of a massive, long-term transformation in how we build, deliver, and support applications. The market is still learning and evolving and thus businesses need the right strategy, process, and platform to support innovation needed for this era and beyond.

Azure: The platform for AI innovation 

Microsoft is committed to making Azure the best place for all your applications—from the new services you’re building to the existing applications slated for modernization. Architected for the demands of AI, Azure brings together best-in-class apps, data, and AI services for your entire application estate, enabling you to modernize at your own pace, helping developers of all skills work quickly to build new services, and supporting every app with the security, performance, and scale needed to run your most critical business services in production. An IDC study showed that customers that migrated and modernized their application on Azure reduced their overall development lifecycle for new applications by 46% and spent 51% less time deploying new features.

The Azure Application Platform provides familiar technologies that app developers are used to, but gives them support for the scale and reliability they need to deliver useful applications with generative AI,” said Amanda Silver, Corporate Vice President and Head of Product for Microsoft’s Developer Division, speaking about powering future innovation with Azure Application Platform at the Application Modernization Webinar.

Microsoft is a leader in security and compliance, with significant investments made in cybersecurity and a large team of security experts making a top choice for enterprise security. The Azure platform is backed by this enterprise security. Security and compliance are infused in the innovations of the platform to ensure enterprise security across every layer of the stack from application code to the data layer as well as standards of responsible AI practices across all the vast portfolio of Azure AI services. That same study from IDC states that customers who migrated and modernized to Azure gained up to 46% more efficiency across security teams and up to 27% fewer security breaches.

Coles modernizes customer shopping experience with Azure 

Coles, the Australian grocery retailer, is one of the many customers leveraging the power of Azure to power innovation and drive significant growth. With the need to deliver improved and enhanced customer experiences across all channels at improved speed—Coles embarked on a modernization journey with Azure. Their modernization not only revamped the digital experiences they provide to their customers but also improved the speed at which they delivered and shipped new and innovative digital experiences to their customers.

Instead of doing six-week releases, we now do weekly releases. And the build time now takes roughly 10 to 15 minutes, compared to what used to be a couple of hours.”

Anton Vishnyakov, Senior Engineer and Manager for Platform Engineering at Coles

Learn more on how Azure can elevate your business

Nearly every business has been on a modernization journey for years, and the benefits of app modernization are well understood. But the rise of AI has created a new catalyst to accelerate this modernization effort. The requirements of AI applications and the incredible potential of these apps when properly architected and supported with data and AI services create a compelling reason to reexamine both your approach and timeline for modernization. Doing it right is even more important. We invite you to join us—start modernizing and innovating with Azure to harness the power of intelligent apps and drive your business growth in this era.

Azure webinar series

Harness the Power of Intelligent Apps: Modernize with Azure

1 MITSloan Management Review, Expanding AI’s Impact with Organizational Learning, October 2020.

The post Harnessing the power of intelligent apps through modernization appeared first on Microsoft Azure Blog.

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