Low-Code Platforms Are a Driving Force Behind the Cloud’s Success

C. Dunlap
C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • A new wave of innovative low-code tools is being integrated into popular cloud offerings to provide developer access to high-value cognitive and IoT services.
  • New low-code platforms are being integrated with operational tools to automate workflows and other application lifecycles.

Cloud providers are finding new opportunities offering low-code platforms that address the labor-intensive requirements involved in the development of web, mobile, and IoT apps. Modern apps are being developed through visual UI tools and frameworks, which engage customers through access to high-value services including analytics, IoT, and big data.

Low-code application development platforms have refined their innovative focus to play a greater role in supporting a DevOps model, which is built around the concept of automation for achieving CI/CD. In an industry increasingly fueled by AI, application development is one of the remaining components in the application lifecycle still lacking in automation, and vendors are establishing new strategies for changing that score via a new wave of low-code solutions, stemming from pure-play leaders Mendix, OutSystems, Appian, Salesforce, and others.

Programming terminology associated with low-code, high-productivity, and rapid app development (RAD) has been around for decades, referring to a model-driven, declarative interface versus a textual-based programming approach to app development. A low-code and even no-code concept has ushered in a new concept based around the term ‘citizen developer,’ empowering non-programmers to participate to a greater degree in their company’s modern app development and support digital transformation projects. Non-coders such as business users may now access pre-built templates and drag-and-drop widgets to quickly build single-purpose apps without having to wait for IT to schedule developer time.

In recent months, this maturing class of development tool has received unprecedented attention for its ability to address DevOps digital transformation objectives, including speeding the process of app development, integrations, and workflow controls. The evolving market segment is therefore now a priority among cloud providers so that a lack thereof represents a major gap in their platform services portfolios. Hence, it’s no surprise that IBM recently announced a significant technology partnership with low-code leader Mendix, whose tools will be available on IBM Cloud. Demand for agile web, mobile, and IoT app development platforms prompted the IBM partnership, ultimately enabling enterprises to access IBM Cloud’s advanced and high-value platform services – including Watson IoT and artificial intelligence – more easily. Others, such as Oracle, are entering the space with more of a piecemeal approach to the market by adding low-code tools across their various product lines.

Near-Term Drivers of Low-Code Platforms:

  • Companies need agile development models to continually deliver new capabilities and provide better customer care through modern apps and chatbots.
  • A DevOps model seeks low-code platforms that incorporate AI (including ML) to support automation to deliver fast and agile integration between frontend app development and backend systems, including integration with third-party operations tools to automate various workflow scenarios.
  • Low-code app development platform providers are planning version upgrades which will support microservices-based app development being deployed to containers.
  • Low-code vendors are playing a key role in providing cloud vendors with platforms for their advanced services, including connectors to cloud providers’ IoT platforms.

Please see “Low-Code Is the New Programming” (March 14, 2018) for a recap of low-code technology providers’ solution offerings and competitive advantages.

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