'Low Code' development is a new trend exploding into the IT market. Forecast to raise £500m of investment in 2020 alone it is a sector that will have a massive impact on how software is developed. Gartner predicts “By 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity.”
As the name suggests it's an RAD (Rapid Application Development) approach achieved through a visual, drag and drop interface and through reusing templates for common business requirements like Case Management.
The value of this approach is exemplified through how new startups can harness this capability. Their primary goal is to launch a new digital business as fast as possible and ideally for as little cost as possible, and Low Code makes it possible to achieve both. Bubble is one of the leading vendors in this space and they offer a catalogue of component templates and even recipes for how to rapidly build your own clones of Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. One developer has built a showcase site demonstrating this template-driven approach: 'Not Real Twitter'.
Enterprise Low Code
The whole essence of DevOps is that large enterprise organizations aspire to the same dynamic agility. They too want to launch new online services as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
However startups are innovating in a completely green field scenario, their only concern is this one new app. In contrast enterprise organisations typically have a massive legacy estate of existing applications and a well established set of software development practices, teams and tools for modifying them.
Thus we can start to see how different Low Code vendor options are better suited to different use cases. Outsystems is another leading Low Code vendor and one that specialises in this more complex enterprise market. In Scotland early adopters include Social Security Scotland, awarding a £9m contract to Deloitte to implement the Outsystems products, and as this news highlights a key requirement of this is "to integrate with Social Security Scotland’s existing IT systems".
Worcestershire County Council also selected Outsystems, to achieve the UK public sector goal of being 'Digital by Default'. It enabled them to rapidly address the core goal of Digital Transformation - Digitise slow, manual processes, and integrate these back-end workflows with their front-end web site.
Low Code Devops
Therefore the key challenge for Low Code is how to successfully integrate it with your existing technologies and software life-cycle. 2i expertise and methodology can be called upon to help plan and manage this adoption, our AssureRMF framework identifying and mitigating any risks with doing so.
For example Outsystems offers an array of DevOps related features, such as a Deployment API, enabling development teams to use their existing orchestration platforms to manage the lifecycle of applications built on and running within OutSystems, including Microsoft Visual Studio Team Services and Jenkins CI/CD Server Integration.
However as they reported in this DevOps.com blog, only 20 percent of the organizations using the OutSystems platform are also employing automated testing tools, with the majority continuing to rely on manual testing. Outsystems say it’s not only critical to engage in continuous testing, but the application needs to be designed to make it easier to isolate user interface, application programming interface (API) and unit testing. Otherwise, automating the testing process becomes more difficult than it should be.
2i helps enterprise organisations achieve a high throughput DevOps life-cycle through building an integrated tool chain, a suite of inter-connected apps so that the value chain of software development can be fully automated end-to-end.
A key example in this scenario is Tricentis. As the industry’s #1 Continuous Testing platform, Tricentis is recognized for reinventing software testing for DevOps.
As this case study describes clients include Social Security Scotland, and as they describe here their ‘Tosca’ product helps enterprises apply automated testing for applications based on OutSystems low-code platform.
The case study explains how the devolution of social security powers to the Scottish Government meant they had multiple complex IT systems that had to be built—and methodically tested—in a short amount of time.
However the partner organisation conducting the testing had every employee working with their own Excel spreadsheet of tests. There was no sharing of files or tests, and no synchronisation with the project’s central requirements management system (Atlassian Jira).
Introducing low code tools can further complicate this situation. If they are not integrated with the central development and testing pipeline, often implemented via tools like Jenkins, then this can build up ‘technical debt’, an isolated island of standalone testing that introduces bottlenecks and slows deployment throughput.
The Scottish Government needed to move from waterfall to agile methods to meet demanding timelines for delivery, requiring a unified quality process that crossed multiple tools like Jira, Jenkins, GitHub and Selenium, visibility and accountability across suppliers and an end-to-end “requirement to test to defect” traceability, but had no time to spend configuring or customising a new test management solution.
This scale of change can present many risks for large enterprise organisations. 2i’s AssureRMF framework can help customers identify and address these types of risks, and as a Tricentis implementation partner we can accelerate successful adoption of their range of solutions described here, helping customers embrace new technologies like Low Code.
As the Scottish Government case study describes this requires a holistic understanding of a large, complex enterprise environment, including multiple technologies, departments and workflow interactions. 2i specialises in mapping this complexity and from that defining a DevOps blueprint that synthesizes them together to achieve faster throughput of successful code deployment.