A complete guide on Technology Migration Strategies: (Part 1 – Introduction)
22nd December 20206 mins
Migration comes with a great challenge, and Technology Migration in web apps is no exception. Whether your current technology has become outdated, or the security of data in an existing system is at risk; whether there is a need to improve data availability, or to fulfill a client’s demand to change their platform for business expansion – Technology Migration comes into the picture. Essentially, migration can either give your web system a fresh new look or improved competencies. For instance, a new system can provide more intuitive navigation with the implementation of new interactive modules which can help augment user experience.
There are different approaches to executing seamless technology migration for web applications. For example, a front-end technology migration, back-end technology migration, or a custom-to-theme-based web system migration, and vice-versa. Notwithstanding, database migration is also an essential part of technology migration, however, since it’s a vast topic to cover, we will comprehensively navigate it in a future blog post. To understand technology migration better, let’s first break down the different approaches to building web systems. Generally, there are two approaches to building robust Web Systems:
This approach seeks to build a web system from scratch. In practice, development starts from the ground up– from elementary web page design, and selection of front-end technology, to the selection of a suitable backend technology and database to fulfill user specifications. In short, everything for this type of web development can be highly tailored depending on the client’s requirements.
There are multiple reasons to choose the route of building a custom web system:
That being said, in the long run, such systems guarantee a better long-term Return on Investment (ROI) with regard to scalability, data integrity, workflows, and robustness since the whole architecture is built from the ground up.
In this approach, the web system is built using a content management system like (WordPress CMS or Shopify CMS) with ready themes available on platforms like ThemeForest, Template Monster, etc. Essentially, the development team leverages a ready-made theme template, customizes and optimizes the template based on the client’s requirements, collects content from the end client, then uploads the content in the template. After that, the system goes live.
To begin with, migration in custom web systems can either mean migration of front-end technology or back-end technology. The client or developers have to keep the following questions in mind before moving forward with migration in custom web systems:
In all honesty, migrating from one technology to another is a complex task even within a similar architecture and programming language. In some cases, one might need to refactor or rewrite some code from scratch(if not most) to achieve the desired outcome. Despite these challenges, front-end migration can be a pretty straightforward process. This can be attributed to the fact that most front-end technology migration does not require rewrites or changes to the backend code.
Let’s take a scenario where the client desires to replace their AngularJS (a front-end framework) with newer technology like Vue.js or React. (You can check out a comprehensive piece we wrote which compares these frameworks here). In such a task, the developer’s last concern would be about the backend of the system. Principally, since the front-end technology does not have any major logic embedded, the developers only need to integrate the user interface UI and the API calls in the new technology.
However, front-end challenges can arise when the design elements used in the old system are not compatible with the new technology. So, it is recommended to prepare the scope of migration after a thorough study of the old system as we discussed in the previous blog.
This is the most challenging and technically difficult migration, it’s almost like changing the brain of the web system. Fundamentally, the back end of any system consists of three parts: application, server & database. We will ensure to cover the database migration and server migration in future blog posts, however, our focus today will be tuned toward the application side.
A backend migration exercise can sometimes entail almost building a system again from the ground up. This is largely because the developers may be required to rewrite all the business logic and API calls in the new technology. Though for a backend technology like Laravel (a PHP framework), you don’t need to worry about the front-end technology migration; because the back-end technology migration will not affect your front-end code structure.
However, one must keep in mind that migration of any backend technology will most often include database migration. There are two possibilities; either a new database structure has to be created on the new platform, or the existing database has to be imported from the current platform to the new one. Furthermore, because API calls impact database compatibility as well as server selection, fully refactoring or updating a backend should only be done when it’s of the utmost importance.
Let’s consider a scenario where one needs to switch technologies and migrate from PHP to Node.js. Both of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, PHP might be a better platform while Node.js might be able to offer more functionality to particular projects. All in all, such tasks are typically not straightforward nor readily deducible, however, if certain steps are followed properly, they can be done. Let’s explore these steps, shall we?
It is recommended to use popular modules that are well-tested and have good reviews. For not-so-popular modules, you can go through the code to make sure that they do not pose any threat to the system.
Upon commencing migration, the team must ensure to engage in the following best practices:
Moving to a new platform is always a tricky and uncertain process. Practically, the migration of every web system is unique. When it comes to CMS platform migration or theme migration of any web system, the requirements of the new theme or CMS platform must be kept in mind before the planning phase of migration.
However, many times, people confuse CMS migration with the concept of web system redesign. Redesigning is like changing the user interface of your website whereas CMS migration is migrating the whole web system from one Content Management System to another. As a matter of fact, one can migrate from one CMS to another without redesigning the website.
Generally, there are three approaches in CMS migration with the help of which, a web system can be migrated from one platform or one theme to another.
Asking these questions might help you to find the best-suited platform for migrating the current web system.
A successful technology migration from one platform to another should involve a well-planned strategy for migration execution and monitoring after migration. Because, if the migration is not executed in a proper manner, it can cause data loss, reduced traffic, broken links, security loopholes, etc.
Here are some common, well-practiced notes that can help through the technology migrating process.
Despite all the possibilities of technology migration highlighted in the blog, it is advisable that you keep up to date technologically before proceeding with migration, as Technology Migration is an ever-changing process. If you want to make the most out of your new web system, then technology migration should be treated as a well thought and strategic process that requires time and attention to detail, and most importantly a dedicated team of developers.
There are more blogs coming soon in continuation of our “Complete Guide on Technology Migration” series. In our next blog, we shall talk about Database migration, its importance, and when it is necessary. Stay tuned for the next one!