Accelerate your legacy app modernization initiatives with low-code

You need to modernize your apps at some point or another. When you do, here’s how you can optimize your outcomes.

Legacy enterprise applications have run their course. Especially since the pandemic accelerated digitization, the need for organizations to modernize their apps has grown exponentially. So has the investment — the app modernization market is expected to reach $32 billion in the next three years.

If you’re contributing your pennies to the 32 billion, you would want to make sure you stretch it as far as possible. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can create a comprehensive, cost-efficient, future-proof, agile, Legacy app modernization strategy for your business.

What is app modernization

Legacy Application modernization is the process of upgrading business applications to newer software development approaches, practices, programming languages, architectures, servers, etc.

The typical changes that occur during modernization are:

  • Monolithic to microservices-based architectures
  • On-premises to cloud-native infrastructure
  • Waterfall development practices to Agile/DevOps methodologies
  • Modern UI and intuitive user experience

Why do organizations need app modernization?

Legacy Application modernization delivers direct benefits to the bottomline by creating new revenue streams, efficiency, cost savings, competitive advantage and more. Here’s why you should consider modernizing your legacy apps today.

To respond to the market effectively

Across all industries, geographies, products, and customer groups, the world is going digital. From healthcare data to personalization on a streaming provider, modern technology powers critical business functions. Legacy technology can be a hindrance to your business catching up.

App modernization offers:

  • Accelerated innovation
  • Greater speed to market
  • Higher integrability with complementary services
  • New digital-only revenue streams
To create differentiating customer experiences

Customers today want to perform all their business transactions on their mobile phones. This makes building personal relationships with your customers that much more difficult. The only opportunity here is to create stellar customer experiences with:

  • Modern UI for ease of use
  • Hyper-personalization based on individual user preferences
  • On-the-go experiences on mobile and wearable devices
  • Consistent experiences across all channels
  • Hybrid physical-digital experiences and seamless transition between the two
To strengthen the technological foundation

The kind of infrastructure needed for processing the volume, variety, and velocity of data being generated today isn’t available on monolithic, on-prem technologies. If they do, they tend to be too expensive and inefficient to even consider. To scale effectively, you need legacy application modernization, that delivers:

  • Dynamic and unlimited scaling based on app needs
  • Fault tolerance, high availability, disaster recovery, and reliability
  • Security and data protection from malicious actors/threats
  • Better load balancing and app performance
To adapt to the evolving nature of work

Remote and hybrid work is the norm today. Your best talent might be situated across the globe. Enterprise software needs to support collaboration and co-working across this landscape.

App modernization enables organizations to:

  • Build collaborative workspaces
  • Enhance developer experience
  • Automate repetitive processes
To make the technology efficient

If absolutely nothing at all, legacy app modernization makes your tech stack significantly more efficient. When you modernize, you can:

  • Create applications that are easier to update and less expensive to scale
  • Build incrementally, adding features as you go along, continuously improving
  • Quarantine failing microservices and diagnose them without affecting the rest of the app
  • Automate processes and performance monitoring
  • Integrate third-party services for non-critical functions, enabling you to focus on your core strengths
  • Reduce technical debt

If you’re convinced, well, good start. Now, let’s get into what technologies and frameworks you need to modernize your apps effectively.

Technology foundations
of application modernization

There are hundreds of technologies you can use while modernizing your enterprise apps. Here, we discuss a few crucial categories.

Modern apps are cloud-native, deployed on public, private, or hybrid clouds. Public cloud like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) go beyond baremetal machines and offer an array of services across containerization, database, networking, analytics and more.
The microservices architecture breaks complex enterprise apps into small, loosely coupled ‘services’ that can be deployed and scaled independently.
The microservices of an enterprise software are connected to each other through APIs exposed thoughtfully. They help apps interface, sharing data securely, forming the connections that create enterprise context.
DevOps automation
Once the software is developed, the operational aspects such as containerization, deployment, monitoring, and management can be automated. You can also set up alerts to be notified when an app isn’t performing as it should.
Low-code platforms

The above are foundational technologies that define what the outcomes of your legacy app modernization efforts must look like. Low-code platforms shape ‘how’ you do it—in an efficient, collaborative, cost-effective way.

Low-code platforms give developers a visual way to write code for legacy app modernization. It allows them to drag-and-drop reusable components and write custom code on top of it, as needed. This approach enables you to:

Prefabs, responsive templates, consistent themes, and 100+ out-of-the-box widgets to modernize applications faster.
Front-end, mobile, back-end, and DevOps technologies that enable scaling for high volume transactions and users.
Always-updated and open standards-based tech stack to minimize technical debt.
Cut costs
Building apps on existing systems to save costs in infrastructure and backend, and faster deployment with low-code legacy application modernization.
Keeping new components alive with old systems with a rebuild and replace approach to ensure business continuity.
REST API-based integration to existing systems, 3rd party services, CI/CD pipelines, and security providers.
Plug-and-play of experience-based components for technical and non-technical teams alike.
1-click deployment to any cloud of your choice.


Across industries, organizations, and functions, legacy app modernization delivers value across use cases. Some examples that we’ve seen work are as follows.

Banko di Seguro Sosial (SVB) modernizes banking apps securely

The IT teams at SVB chose WaveMaker for the rapid development of applications, creating a consistent visual framework to be replicated across all applications. They built a core shell consisting of database integration, secure API interfaces, and UI to be reused across applications. With that, they modernized several customer-facing, mission-critical applications. This resulted in:

  • A team of four modernizing complex apps seamlessly
  • Reduced turnaround times for app development
  • A critical emergency response app being created in 2 days!
J.J. Richards goes from legacy to feature-rich applications

Using low code, JJ Richards built new and diverse applications rapidly while integrating them with the existing DB schema leveraging REST APIs. Low code was also used to modernize existing applications using feature-rich and interactive user interfaces. 

With WaveMaker, JJ Richards built 10 critical applications with just 7 developers within 18 months.

Etat De Genève modernizes multiple apps without disrupting existing systems

Etat De Genève adopted the WaveMaker application modernization platform to build various in-house applications that are made scalable and secure. While a few have already been built, the rest are being repurposed entirely with WaveMaker. OCSIN has been able to do this with minimal support and has for the most part used a self-service model.

With WaveMaker, Etat developed:

  • 40+ visual applications with a lean team
  • Modernized apps with latest technologies like containerization, web services, and SAML
  • Seamless integration with other internal systems like LDAP, EDM via web services, desktop publishing in a native manner


Modernizing your app doesn’t mean junking your old and ringing in the new—well that’s one way to do it. But there are several others.

Its other name ‘lift and shift’ describes this approach better. Rehosting is when you take an existing application as it is and move it from a legacy environment to the cloud. This application modernization approach makes no code changes, which makes it simple, less expensive, and has little need for ‘change management’ for users. 

However, this brings with it all the burdens of legacy software. If it is unsuitable for cloud, you might also experience issues of performance and scalability.
Refactoring takes an as-needed approach to legacy app modernization. It makes as few code changes as needed to the existing application so it can optimize the use of its cloud environment.

This is better than rehosting as it makes necessary changes to optimize performance. It is faster and more efficient for the development teams. On the other hand, as technology evolves, the changes you’ve made might not be enough, making this approach unsustainable.

In this approach, legacy application modernization teams rearchitect the software for better scalability on cloud. They break down monolithic applications into smaller, decoupled, microservices. They rewrite/retool significant parts of the legacy app to be cloud-ready.

This approach makes the most of the legacy assets and cloud capabilities at the same time. It can also be expensive for a project that still does not give you a new app.
This is when you get rid of your legacy application modernization entirely and build a new one from scratch. You would typically use the business context and logic from the legacy app and build its features anew as though you’re building a fresh one. In this approach, you truly modernize, in that, you eliminate the remnants of the old app and move to a modern tech stack.

While this can be cost, time, and effort-intensive, it’s a future-oriented approach for sustainable software development. You can, of course, gradually rebuild with the microservices approach, maintaining business continuity.

The last approach is replacing your app with a SaaS product built for purpose. Well, if you were considering that, you wouldn’t be reading this article, so we shall move on.


The approach you choose depends on several factors, such as the performance of an app, criticality to business, the effort needed to modernize, potential value if modernized, etc.

For instance, if you have a custom app for payroll or sales incentive management, you might want to replace it entirely with a SaaS tool. While these apps are important, they are not mission-critical and take away from your engineering team’s time. On the other hand, if you are a retail player and your e-commerce or logistics platform is on legacy application modernization software, you are losing out on the market opportunity. Modernizing this app is high-value. 

To make the right decision, conduct a thorough assessment of your app landscape. Identify all the applications you have. Now, plot them on a matrix with the x-axis for effort/cost and the y-axis for potential value.

High-value, low-effort/cost
The most obvious starting point. Use these to create some quick wins and get the business stakeholders on your side.
Low-value, high-effort/cost
These are not worth doing. Replace them with SaaS apps or find ways to make-do without.
Low-value, low-effort/cost
This can be your last priority. While they don’t create extraordinary business value, they might make minor improvements that are still worthwhile, given the effort/cost.
High-value, high-effort/cost
This is the most contentious quadrant. It is a high-risk endeavor, given the effort/costs. However, when done right, they can be transformative.

Let’s see how to do it right.

Modernizing your enterprise applications

Once you have the decisions made, it’s time to put them into action. Here’s a tried-and-tested framework to modernize your applications.
Do your app modernization prep work
Conduct a more thorough audit of all your applications in granular detail. Look at features, data, functions, users etc.
Define your why. You need to know what you’re transforming and what outcomes you expect.
If you’re modernizing in 2024, there is certainly something that prevented you from doing so earlier. Identify the causes and evaluate any risks that might arise in the future.
Identify the resources you need, including talent, budgets, timelines, down times, etc.
Get a robust change management program for everyone to get onboard the legacy application modernization journey.

Plan your app modernization initiative

Depending on the complexity of your app and your organization, you’ll need a comprehensive plan. Here are some aspects to include in your enterprise application modernization plan.

Scope the project

Document the project scope clearly. If you’re modernizing an app for your own organization as an internal team, this is extremely critical to prevent being swayed in multiple directions while you’re in the middle of a sprint. 

  • Break down projects into milestones, sprints, features, and user stories as much as possible
  • Create acceptance criteria for all needs
  • Map the dependencies and how they’re impacting future tasks
  • Outline the responsibilities of all stakeholders, including the project sponsor or client
Get executive sponsorship

Given the scale of change, both technologically and culturally, executive buy-in is necessary, especially for budget approvals. Get onboard a champion, who will talk about the project in company forums, and socialize the application modernization initiative.

Align resources

Put together the team that is going to implement this enterprise application modernization initiative. Traditional teams include UI designers, UX experts, UI developers, backend developers, database developers, mobile developers, quality analysts, DevOps, etc.

Set clear targets

Based on your goals, design IT and business targets across key performance indicators. For instance, if your goal is to increase revenue, your IT KPIs would be number of new features launched, frequency of code releases, lead time for changes, etc. At the business level, you’d measure usage, incremental revenue, user growth, etc. Bring every stakeholder to the table to agree on the targets.

Put together the right toolkit

A good toolstack can do wonders for legacy app modernization. You can get a lot more done across project management, test automation, developer experience, CI/CD, etc. with the right tools. Most importantly, a robust low-code platform can accelerate your legacy application modernization journey. 

WaveMaker’s low-code enterprise application modernization platform empowers you to transition to a composable architecture disruption-free. WaveMaker enables modernization across three levels of an application.


Modernize UI and create differentiated user experiences with existing assets. Use UI wrappers, connectors, themes, templates, custom prefabs and user journeys, to compose differentiated user experiences for your applications.


Create custom integrations with personalized API wrappers to create new app strategies on top of existing systems. Optimize the code output while keeping the original code intact.


Re-architect applications in a new, better ecosystem and containerized app delivery. Move to a cloud-native architecture with easier maintenance, dynamic scaling, and DevOps automation.

Across all levels, low-code platforms can deliver enterprise application modernization outcomes quickly and effectively.


Modernize your legacy applications in phases. Roll out new functionalities built on low-code as components and integrate them with existing systems. Enable co-existence of newly composed components with existing systems and phase out slowly.

Build composability

Create an internal repository of core functional components using prefabs. Integrate new components into existing systems.

Custom code

WaveMaker generates real editable code, empowering professional developers with custom coding to handle complex and edge cases.


Built-in capabilities such as Intellisense editor, API mocks, 1-click preview, automated mobile testing, inspection framework and debugging, can improve developer productivity and experience.

1-click deployment

Maven-compliant applications with just a click to a cloud provider of choice without the setup hassles of CI/CD with WaveMaker.

Thoughtfully integrate AI into your app modernization workflows

The hype around generative AI has many people convinced that all coding is going to be done by the bot now. While this isn’t yet true, AI can do a lot for you. Choose a platform that integrates AI thoughtfully into your workflows. Some use cases that can put AI to work today are:

  • Higher abstraction to convert user intent to code
  • Use natural language to get working code in return
  • Improve design-to-code cycles with AI
  • Visualize with realistic mock data
Integrate monitoring and operations

As you build and deploy microservices to the cloud, integrate monitoring tools to track app performance. Set up the infrastructure, tools, and automation you need to manage operations sustainably. Also regularly track your progress against the goals.

Accelerate your low-code journey with WaveMaker

WaveMaker is a pro dev’s low-code composable experience platform, purpose-built for enterprise-grade engineering. It is built from the ground up to empower developers with everything they need to build, test, and deploy exceptional products.

The composable low-code platform enables you to modernize legacy applications component by component with zero disruption to your business. 

With a flexible and reliable microservices-based foundation, the WaveMaker low-code platform offers a host of modern front-end, backend, mobile, and DevOps technologies to deliver enterprise-grade cloud-native applications that deliver robust performance at scale. This includes:

  • Cloud-native architecture: Lightweight, resource-optimized environment
  • Deep integrations: REST APIs, importing APIs in bulk, or consuming ‘experience APIs’ through API orchestration
  • High performance: Built-in app sizing, monitoring, optimization, and compression algorithms; user-centric error messaging and responsive app feedback; fast, reliable & secure delivery of internet content through CDN integration
  • Scalability: Standards, microservices, and stateless protocols, and massive scaling
  • Security: Veracode-certified app-generated code, protection against OWASP 10 vulnerabilities, authentication and authorization, SSL encryption to SAML, and more
  • Responsiveness: Web and React Native Studios for responsive, cross-platform apps

Discover how WaveMaker can accelerate your legacy application modernization journey. Contact us for a demo or to discuss your specific needs with our expert team. 

You can talk to an expert today