Role of Governance to Make Low-Code Platforms More Productive

Most organizations implemented low-code tools to speed up the application development process. From $4.32 billion in 2017, the low-code development platform market size is expected to grow to $27.23 billion by 2022. This technology is gaining popularity, not only as a means to transform legacy applications, but also for building customer-centric mobile and web applications.

The ability of low-code platforms to speed up the process of application delivery and deployment enabled enterprises to respond in time to demands for business software. It caught the attention of professional developers when they used it to build complex applications with multiple functionalities used across the enterprise and not just for one department. Add to that, access to cloud services via self-service interfaces compelled AD&D leaders to adopt low-code platforms to innovate and deliver.

Implications of Wide Low-Code Adoption

The idea behind adopting low-code platform is to use a minimum of coding and more visual modules to build applications, whether for user experience or data modeling purposes. According to a Forrester survey, large enterprises are among the biggest adopters of low-code platforms. This has helped to quell the doubts of developers who believed low-code platforms are not meant for building large scale complex application. Using low-code tools, developers found that they can create applications that once took months.

Yet in cases with no proper governance in place, it can become a technical burden for the company as the cost of maintaining such applications can escalate when using closed low-code platforms.

Know Your Users

Before putting any governance in place, it is important to know who the prime users of low-code platforms in an enterprise are. Primarily, professional developers, dependent on coding, are the first-level users of these platforms. They have an intimate understanding of application design, performance, maintainability, and reliability. Then comes business experts or citizen developers who also contribute to building applications by bringing in the knowledge of what the market needs are and how the application can best serve those needs. Depending on who is working on the platform, a sort of control mechanism can be established to ensure that users can get the most out of these applications.

Pitfalls of Lack of Governance – Shadow IT

No-code platforms have a strong appeal for non-technical users. They can rapidly create a business application using the visual tools of the platform without writing any code. In a few years, there will be thousands of such apps performing even mission-critical tasks. Completely independent of IT intervention, it will soon become another instance of Shadow IT. Although these shadow apps improve productivity in the short run, it may compromise IT security in the long run as they are not protected with firewalls and security systems. Also, when these shadow apps fail to deliver certain functions, the cost of rebuilding them using technology approved by the IT often increases the cost to the organization. It may also need to hire external developers who can implement applications in accordance to their IT policies.

When shadow IT is becoming the alternative to traditional ways of delivering applications, it becomes a monumental task to do away with it. But there are ways to realize the benefits of these shadow apps built with tools like low-code platforms, without compromising on IT security and governance. Open-standards-based low-code platforms are widely available and conform to the guidelines of IT security, enabling developers to build customized applications according to their business needs. Using proven rapid application development platforms, shadow apps can be liberated from proprietary technologies that often becomes a roadblock to innovation.

Collaborate Securely to Improve Efficiency

To mitigate the risk of shadow IT, developers want to work on secured platforms that help them build custom applications with minimal coding and in less time. Whether working on a large project or many small projects, enterprises rely on a global team of developers. These developers have varied levels of skills and roles to play. Platforms with comprehensive role-based access control features will allow enterprise application development teams to collaborate better and create applications faster without the risk of project governance issues. It is based on the principle of allowing the least level of access to perform tasks with full efficiency.

Conforming to Governance Rules Made Easy

Today’s government regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) place strict requirements on enterprise databases and their use. Keeping this in mind, logging data changes in a database has become a common requirement of enterprise applications. This involves additional effort during the application development process. Instead, an in-built functionality for data auditing will allow developers to concentrate more on the business logic than handling history logging needs. Platforms that enable seamless integration of such functionalities into applications will automatically become the preferred choice of enterprises to meet compliance needs.

Not All Rules Are Meant to Be Broken!

Rules, standards, and governance help to not only decide what apps are to be created but also how they will be written. Good governance policy is one of the secrets to successful low-code implementation. In the absence of it, an enterprise may end up with thousands of low-code applications in dire need of IT intervention.

Originally published by Rooplekha Poddar in

Enterprise Application Development

Open low-code – The low-code platform that’s high on developer love

Being in the market of application development for almost a decade, my team at WaveMaker has been through some of the big shifts in the application market. In my opinion, one such shift is the magnitude by which IT budgets have been slashed over the years. Although this could be due to many reasons, what is important is that this budget cut has caused a demand growth for low-code platforms, whose promise is to churn out applications faster and in an economical manner. Besides WaveMaker, companies like Outsystems, Mendix, Appian started catering to this market, but I believe there is still more value to be created and open-low-code platforms will be driving it.

Emergence of Open Low-code

A major portion of IT budgets goes into the development and maintenance of core enterprise applications. This includes LoB apps and apps with emerging cloud-native architecture which is built by mainstream developers and not business users. What I have seen is that for developers, code control and innovation are very important. We thought for low-code to be more valuable to developers, it should have an impact on how mainstream developers build and maintain applications. Open low-code platforms do just that.

Let’s understand how open low-code addresses both the productivity needs and key concerns of an enterprise as we have seen.

  • Built for professional developers
    Professional developers often build applications that are long-lived and have complex business logic. These applications are highly secure and integrated with the enterprise ecosystem and in some cases are fine-tuned for cloud scalability. Open low-code platforms provide developers an end-to-end ability to handle such complex application needs; from best practices around the generated code to cloud-ready deployables. According to me, because the generated code is easily extendable with their favorite IDEs, over and above mere productivity gains, open low-code platforms also have higher chances of developer adoption.
  • Long-lasting technology
    Proprietary technology frameworks will result in developers hitting a wall sooner or later. Open standards-based best-of-breed application frameworks allow developers to easily learn and adapt the platform as they can find greater learning resources. Working with enterprises we have seen that if your stack is modern, it gives greater runway to your development teams as well as to the applications being built. Look for modern technology frameworks like Angular 7, Spring, REST APIs, OAuth, SQL, etc. that allow the best performance as well as easy integration into your enterprise ecosystem.
  • Best practices for code generation
    Given that much of the application, code is auto-generated by a low-code platform, we often found developers are concerned about its quality, performance, and flexibility aspects. We have seen many low-code platforms generate proprietary code that is hidden and not easily readable. Open low-code platforms make the entire application code (frontend as well as backend) fully visible. Also, professional development teams like to use tools of their choice (Eclipse, IntelliJ) for code extensions. Open low-code platforms provide the ease of interoperability of code changes across inbuilt editors as well as external IDEs (Eclipse, IntelliJ), etc. The best strategy in my opinion is to adopt a Declarative to Code Behind approach for low-code platforms.
  • Pluggable Enterprise Architecture
    Application development encompasses the full lifecycle from create, integrate, validate, test, deploy and update. For enterprises, there are existing systems that development teams integrate the code with to take code live production to end-users. Open low-code platforms can seamlessly integrate with the overall enterprise architecture like existing data sources (Database, ERPs, etc), security (LDAP, AD, SSO), DevOps (CI/CD), repositories (VCS), hosting systems (App Servers, Kubernetes) to name a few.
  • Cloud-native delivery
    Low-code platforms that support continuous delivery mechanism allows code changes to be quickly deployed into production environments. In our experience with customers, we have seen enterprises have a mix of VMs as well as container runtimes. Also, enterprise applications run on the multi-public cloud as well as private cloud setups or even on-premise environments. Open low-code platforms enable deploying the code as well as applications seamlessly into any of the above environments. It also provides the option to deploy/test code directly into custom delivery pipelines. The ability to integrate directly to Kubernetes as an upcoming container runtime gives greater flexibility in terms of portability, scalability, and DevOps efficiency within the enterprise. That is what we at WaveMaker are aiming to provide. With WaveMaker, enterprises can directly deploy applications into the Kubernetes cluster for better scalability and performance at runtime.

Need for Open Low-code

Open low-code platforms, to a large extent, aim to address the pain points of developers trying to build mainstream enterprise applications. It can fulfill both the productivity needs of the developers as well as their key concerns around modern best practices for application development, integration, and delivery. With such platforms, businesses can be sure of better adoption amongst developers and thereby ensure a faster release cycle of quality applications without straining the IT budget.