3 Reasons to Migrate Legacy Applications to OpenShift


Migrating brownfield applications is much easier in 2019 than it was even two years ago, thanks to Red Hat OpenShift.

Many customers on their digital transformation journey are at a crossroads with their legacy applications. A 2018 Diamanti Container Adoption Benchmark Survey states that the biggest obstacles to adoption of any new technology platform are infrastructure (30%), security (22%) and deployment concerns (22%).

Perhaps one monolithic brownfield application comes to mind that has grown more expensive to maintain and meet your service level agreements (SLAs). Simply replacing legacy applications with new software can be incredibly costly and disruptive. In some cases, there simply isn’t a viable software alternative.

On the other hand, micro services are independently deployable, optimized for agility, and enable a faster time to market.

So, the question here is, should you containerize your legacy applications? Unlike greenfield apps which are easy to deploy, which means they are cloud-ready and can run anywhere, brownfield apps are not. These are the legacy applications which need to co-exist with new software and infrastructure.

There are a wealth of tools available in OpenShift for you to migrate brownfield apps to containers. Unlike traditional virtual machines (VMs), containers help you package and deploy microservices efficiently.

Here are a few efficiencies you get by moving those brownfield apps to OpenShift.

On-demand scale out

Unlike legacy applications which require lengthy and costly hardware approvals to scale up, OpenShift’s integrated service discovery and orchestration enable you to scale out infrastructure instantly to support rapid growth.

When your legacy apps are in containers, container platforms manage your micro services deployments and enable instant capacity on-demand. A 2017 Forrester Report states that containerization will grow as organizations seek to improve efficiency and scalability. Automated self-service is a high or critical priority for 84% of those surveyed. You’ve come to expect this type of elasticity from modern software, and OpenShift can help you obtain this for legacy applications. This enables faster time to market and a better customer experience.

But how do you migrate your legacy apps to containers? More on that in a bit.

Platform supportability

Unlike legacy apps which are hardware-restricted, sometimes to EOL, on-premises hardware, OpenShift abstracts your apps through containers so they run on any hardware, anywhere. Most legacy applications, including Java/C/C++ based applications, can be refactored for containers.

Containers provide a standard and portable packing format that runs everywhere Linux runs. Now, your legacy app can be deployed consistently across any environment: physical or virtual, private or public cloud. Furthermore, you can span multiple cloud providers and avoid being locked into any one provider’s infrastructure (e.g. Azure, AWS, or GCP.) This flexibility offers greater cost-efficiency and reliability to decrease IT infrastructure costs.

Application availability

Lastly, unlike physical-persistent legacy apps, OpenShift enables your applications to be consistently available through a true Infrastructure-as-Code execution. A cloud-enabled infrastructure supports your business continuity goals through resiliency and failover capabilities.

But what do you do with your brownfield applications? These may have been built a decade ago. It’s monolithic and has the traditional application, middleware, and database layers. You may have done some analysis and, because of how it was architected, you don’t see a clear way to lift-and-shift the application, or refactor it. As you modernize your application environment, your past investments have become incompatible with the direction you are headed.

OpenShift provides a wealth of resources to solve these problems. First, the OpenShift platform provides a series of tools, like Source-to-Image (S2I) to lift-and-shift existing applications. In addition, Red Hat also maintains a certified container catalog of the most common application components, and full supportability for popular application development environments, like Java (including JBoss Middleware) and SQL databases.

Finally, Red Hat publishes a series of blueprints and best practices specifically for addressing brownfield application migration. The Red Hat partner ecosystem also maintains a bench that has been converting applications for years.


Red Hat OpenShift extends the lifecycle of your brownfield applications by giving you the hybrid-cloud infrastructure, migration tools, and supportability needed to address the drag legacy applications are putting on your digital transformation. When fully migrated to OpenShift, your brownfield applications will coexist with greenfield applications in a single application run-time environment. The net effect is your legacy applications are now compliant with your current and future digital strategy.

If you want to learn more about OpenShift, migrating legacy apps to containers, and how Stone Door Group’s services will get your team up and running for good, visit stonedoor.io.

About The Author

Adrian Phillips is head of product marketing for Stone Door Group, a Cloud and DevOps consulting company, and architect of the OpenShift Container Platform Accelerator℠ solution. Stone Door Group Accelerator solutions take all the guesswork out of transitioning brownfield applications to OpenShift by executing an industry best practice services migration methodology that delivers tangible and valuable outcomes. To learn more, drop us an email at letsdothis@stonedoorgroup.com.