Mobile Modernization: Architect Playbook

The Challenges of Migrating to a Modern Mobile Architecture

Modern mobile applications are becoming the preferred window through which your employees and consumers interact with enterprise data. Whether email, calendars, and chat, or accessing CRM, ERP or financial data, your organization has likely already “gone mobile” as employees put their work in their pockets. While mobility projects may have existed on the POC fringe in your organization just a few years ago, their prevalence, and your customers’ and employees’ appetite for them means that these apps must be architected with the same care we’ve taken for traditional systems in the past.

What’s more, because modern workforces are increasingly physically mobile--the walls of an office and a modern workday no longer constrain a desire or need to work--there’s a need not just to create mobile interfaces, but mobilize access to essential data. Modern mobile apps need to connect to your monolithic or legacy systems in order to be useful. But it can be challenging to mobilize the data in those monoliths, not to mention move them, in entirety, to the cloud.

Finally, while mobile applications and cloud migration efforts share many common threads with traditional enterprise systems, both introduce unique performance, scale and security challenges that you need to be prepared for.


Mobile-applications are increasingly the preferred interaction channel for your customers and employees

Beyond the Firewall

Modern workforces are moving beyond the walls of the office, yet still need access to critical enterprise data

Challenges of the Cloud

Mobile and cloud modernization projects present unique performance, scale and security challenges that you need to plan for

These challenges, collectively, can be daunting, but need not be overwhelming.

By combining traditional architecture with a few modern practices, you can easily tackle those challenges, enabling you to modernize your systems and unlock new opportunities for your organization.

Before you begin, consider the architecture of your organization

First and foremost though, you should assess your organizational architecture. When undertaking a mobile modernization effort, it can be tempting to jump right into system design. But we recommend making sure you understand how the structure of your organization and skills of your teams will impact and influence your modernization efforts. By taking a few moments to consider your current state using the checklists below, you’ll be better prepared to make key technology decisions down the road.

1. Assess your structure

First, you’ll want to pay close attention to how the makeup of your organization impacts your modernization efforts. The following are some key questions to ask, and advice for fitting your modernization effort into your organizational context.

Mobility team makeup We are forming a new mobile team and either retraining existing staff or hiring mobile developers. We are asking existing front-end teams to take on upcoming mobile projects.
Data & backend teams We are forming a new API team that will work alongside our existing data & backend teams. We are asking our existing data and backend teams to build a new API, while maintaining legacy interfaces.
API roadmap We are building a new API that wraps our legacy sources for use by modern applications. Our new API will completely replace legacy interfaces from day one, affecting all applications, old and new.

Table 1. Personnel considerations for mobility modernization

It’s important to note that modernization doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing approach, for your mobile apps, or your backend. Whether creating APIs and a microservices architecture or adding mobile projects to your existing slate of apps, we recommend taking a piecemeal approach that favors keeping your core running and stable, while building out new capabilities and services that wrap the core, without disruption.

Wherever possible, its best to favor adding new services and apps alongside what you have in place, as opposed to wholesale replacement.


Fig 1. Moving monoliths to the cloud does not have to be "all or nothing." Layering BaaS on top of existing legacy systems and using secure pipes to access existing on prem data, minimizes potential disruption when taking the first step towards the cloud.

2. Assess your skills

Next, evaluate the skills of the teams that will be responsible for the development and management of key pieces of your mobilization effort, from the mobile apps themselves to cloud services, and APIs. In the realms of both mobile and data, consider the following questions before you begin your effort.

Regardless of how you answer the questions below, if there is some close overlap of skills across teams, we suggest unifying skill sets across the development stack for front-end, back-end and even mobile work. While there are several options, we believe unifying around JavaScript is an ideal choice. Both because of presence of well-supported, stable JavaScript runtimes and libraries across the stack, and the size of the JavaScript community, which presents a solid talent pool from which to grow your development teams, over time.

Mobile Teams Our mobile teams will be/are staffed by front- and back- end developers who are most comfortable with JavaScript. Our mobile teams will be/are staffed by developers experienced with native mobile technologies.
Data/Services Teams Our Data teams will be/are staffed by developers who are comfortable with Node.js. Our Data teams will be/are staffed be developers who are comfortable with legacy frameworks, such as C#/.NET or Java.

Table 2. Skill considerations for mobility modernization

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