Categories
Enterprise Application Development

Choosing a low-code platform that developers will adopt

Low-code platforms are driving about 50% annual growth in a market populated by dozens of vendors. At present, the value of this market stands at $4 billion.

Low-code platform takes a visual development approach to deliver business applications. It enables developers to create applications visually with a minimum of hand-coding and upfront investment in setup, training and deployment. What drives its adoption is that developers can iterate, and release applications in a fraction of the time when compared to traditional methods.

The following are the features of low-code platforms:

Visual Development – The fundamental expectation from a low-code app development platform is to offer a WYSIWYG development environment where developers can drag and drop components to design responsive user interfaces that adapt to a device’s screen resolution. Some of these platforms go so far as to offer out-of-the-box templates for commonly used layouts and screens such as dashboards. The demand for enterprise mobile apps has meant that low-code platforms have also started to offer cross-platform mobile app development with access to native mobile device features.

Simplified Integration – Virtually every business application depends on data to create a meaningful application. But data is available from disparate systems ranging from proprietary enterprise systems to APIs from external entities and everything in between. Hence, data integration consumes an inordinate amount of time and resources during enterprise application development. A Low-code Platform is expected to provide a visual approach for developers to connect to these data sources and embed data elements directly into the application. Some platforms also allow professional developers to design data models and configure business logic directly inside the low-code app.

Instant Deployment – Beyond the need to eliminate or reduce application coding, Low-code Platforms are expected to streamline and speed up the application delivery process itself. One key characteristic is the ability to instantly deploy an application with zero DevOps. Such platforms also offer a single point of control for app maintenance and updates. While other low-code app development platforms extend the capabilities to security, governance, version control, infrastructure autoscaling and more.

What developers look for in a low-code platform

A modern digital business requires CIOs to ensure that they are providing the newest offerings to users. While choosing a low-code platform, the concern for a CIO is to build applications faster. But what concerns a developer are a set of criteria that determines which low-code platform to adopt. These are –

  • Is the platform built on open standards?
    While most low-code platforms claim “no vendor lock-in”, the reality is that most of them use proprietary technologies and application stack. Applications developed on a low-code platform that is based on proven open source technologies trusted by millions of users ensure an open and extensible approach to application delivery. Also, the platform should use best-of-breed application stack for developing full stack applications.
  • Is simple external integration possible?
    While most vendors offer decent visual development capabilities, it is important to look for features that ease external integration of data and services as most business data is stored in proprietary systems. Look for out-of-the-box integrations to instantly add powerful functionality to your apps. Also verify whether custom integrations can be built and reused across apps.
  • Does the platform offer cross-platform development?
    The ability to create applications using a single code base that can adapt to any native platform or operating system (which could be iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/RIM, etc) using a hybrid adaptive design enables applications to be run seamlessly on any device giving it cross platform capabilities.
  • Does the platform meet scalability needs?
    Ensure that low-code platform vendors don’t get away with merely providing a hosting and release management solution. Check for the ability to scale applications and handle private cloud needs. Look for solutions that allow for rapid and continuous provisioning, deployment, instant scalability and maximum utilization of resources. Verify whether the platform supports building custom software stacks and deploying API-driven microservices-based apps, and orchestrates IT infrastructure effectively.
  • Is it easy to create, share and consume APIs ?
    Today, APIs are at the front and center of business applications and architecture. Most low-code platforms support APIs at best. However, one must choose a platform that takes an API-first approach to application delivery. It should be easy to import data from any service and bind it to UI components. Moreover, the platform should allow developers to create, publish and discover APIs with ease.
  • Is it easy to maintain the code generated?
    With most low-code platforms, even the most experienced developer would not understand the code generated by the platform. Maintainability is a critical aspect of application delivery and is overlooked by many of these platforms. Verify that the code generated follows design patterns, is well-organized, uses standard naming conventions and generates documentation that developers can understand and maintain.
  • How is the security mechanism?
    Enterprise applications need both coarse grained and fine grained security control mechanisms. The low-code platform must support flexible authentication and authorization mechanisms to secure users and various tasks within the application. Check for integration support for popular identity management systems like AD, LDAP, SSO and OAuth.

Whether you are transforming application delivery or testing the waters with a pilot project, it is critical to choose the right business use cases and applications to achieve success with low-code platforms. Once you can identify the ideal use case, choose the low-code platform that best suits the case and delivers business value.

Categories
Insights

Finding Your Application Modernization Balance

In today’s always-on world in which technology is now a chief driver of competitive value, organizations must strike a new balance and find a way to do it all — especially tackling the modernization efforts that they have put off for far too long.

If you’re an IT leader, you may be avoiding the industry press these days. Every article seems to spell out another grave challenge that you must face.

The threat of the cloud, the threat of not moving to the cloud, the talent gap, the impact of AI, and on and on. There is no shortage of challenges and risks — or of companies lining up to help you solve them.

The greatest challenge facing IT leaders, however, is not new. In fact, it is as old as the industry itself: balancing the deployment of resources and battling the constant pressure to do more with less.

This challenge is perhaps most prominent when IT leaders attempt to address the issue of modernizing their aging legacy application stack. In the first three installments in this four-part series, we examined the rock and the hard spot that it leaders found themselves between as they grappled with the modernization challenge — and how a new low-code enabled third option was presenting itself.

But no amount of technology or new services can solve this problem without IT leaders first addressing the issue of resource balancing.

The Losing Fight for Balance

While the resource balancing challenge has existed from the very beginning, I’d argue that IT leaders have mostly succeeded at striking it.

While maintaining previously deployed systems and the so-called business-as-usual (BAU) state has long consumed most of IT’s resources, the pace of new demand was manageable enough to sustain the balance.

At least, until recently.

In the mad rush to all things digital, organizations have shifted more resources to growth-oriented initiatives to either stave off disruption or seize disruptive opportunities. At the same time, the legacy technology stack continued to age and, paradoxically, became even more essential these new applications relied on them for transaction handling and records management.

All at once, enterprise leaders found that they no longer needed to merely balance between new applications and BAU functions, but must also face the need to modernize their legacy systems to both reduce growing maintenance challenges and to ensure that they could continue to support newly emerging customer-facing functions.

Like a tightrope-walking juggler, IT leaders found themselves fully engaged and unable to even contemplate taking on anything else — particularly of the scale and scope of modernization efforts.
And as a result, the balance that IT organizations had so precariously managed was now lost.

Modernization in the Balance

As we’ve explored throughout this series, IT leaders have been able to sidestep this issue by putting off modernization efforts for another day.

But as we’ve also examined, the need to modernize the IT stack has become an existential threat to IT organizations.

The bill has come due and IT organizations must find a way to create a new balance point between these three competing demands: continue to meet the insatiable demand for new and modern applications, maintain the existing technology infrastructure in a reliable and resilient state, and do these while modernizing legacy applications to ensure that the organization can continue to meet future demand.

To do so, enterprise IT leaders need to take a new approach when balancing their resources.

Traditionally, IT organizations created an operational baseline. This baseline was the BAU function, and it had to be done. New projects, including modernization, were then prioritized based on business priority (but often measured in terms of strict financial Return On Investment, or ROI).

Ironically, using that approach, modernization almost never rose to the top because it lacked the near-term ROI to justify it.

IT leaders must shift the foundation of their resource balancing effort away from financial ROI (although it will always remain a component) and, instead, categorize every existing and potential application on the basis of its ability to contribute to the competitive value of the organization.
The organization should then deploy its precious internal resources to build, maintain, or modernize those applications that support the organization’s competitive posture in the market. IT leaders should then outsource the development, maintenance, and modernization of the remaining stack based on organizational risk.

Intellyx Take

Perhaps the most significant change between today and the IT resource balancing act of the past is that there is no longer an option to say no.

In the past, when applications were predominately internally facing, it was acceptable to say that the IT organization lacked the resources to meet any given request.

In today’s always-on world in which technology is now a chief driver of competitive value, that’s no longer an option. Organizations must find a way to do it all — especially tackling the modernization efforts that they have put off for far too long.

It is in this context that IT leaders must seek to use every resource at their disposal, but do so in a strategically sound way. The third way of application modernization and partnering with companies such as WaveMaker that we’ve explored in this series is one way that IT leaders can strike this new balance.

The most critical step, however, is merely recognizing that it is a new balance that you must strike. You must accept that you need to do it all and do it in a way that most strategically leverages your internal resources.

Anything less will leave you off-balance — and that’s a terrible state when you’re walking a tightrope.


Originally published by Charles Araujo in Intellyx BrainBlog

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. WaveMaker is an Intellyx client. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.