Should You Trust Low Code/No Code for Mission-Critical Applications?

The use of low code and no code is rising as organizations try to ship worth quicker. Before placing an excessive amount of at stake, consider carefully about what you are doing.

Credit: tippapatt through Adobe Stock

More enterprises now perceive the worth of low code and no code, although the variations between these product classes are price contemplating. Low code is aimed toward builders and energy customers. No code targets non-developers working in traces of enterprise. The central thought is to get to market quicker than is feasible with conventional software growth.

The no-code viewers is worked up about bettering the effectivity of duties, workflows and processes utilizing a visible interface to construct easy purposes versus ready for IT to do it. This is ok on the group degree, however not each platform could give you the chance help the evolving wants of the group or the corporate. When a platform would not scale properly or its capabilities are too restricted, the complete software could need to be rebuilt from scratch as a result of there are not any command-line choices.

Professional builders use low code to assemble a lot of an software that doesn’t require customized code. Then the customized portion is created on a command line, which occurs to be a second window builders can open in low-code platforms.

This command-line performance supplies two advantages. The first is the transparency of code which implies builders can see the precise code and make adjustments to it. Second, if an influence consumer has created an software that’s rising past a non-developer’s capabilities, they’ll hand the challenge to builders who can add the enhancements or make adjustments to the applying.

Low-code platforms are typically built-in with built-in growth environments (IDEs) and different issues so builders have appreciable flexibility.

Blair Hanley Frank, ISG

Blair Hanley Frank, ISG

But do not be fooled. There are variances amongst low-code platforms and variances amongst no-code platforms. The sensible group will think about its present and future necessities and can choose a accomplice accordingly.

One essential consideration is, ought to organizations use low-code or no-code to construct mission-critical purposes? Since platform capabilities range, the proper reply is “It depends.”

Why to Avoid Building an Application in Low Code or No Code

Developers initially rejected the concept of low code on the premise that they had been “toys” a severe developer would not use. There was additionally appreciable skepticism a couple of low-code platform matching a developer’s coding prowess. However, as software program launch cycles proceed to shrink, builders at the moment are viewing low code as a method of accelerating what they’re doing. If nearly all of an software’s performance might be constructed visually, why not do it? One motive is as a result of it might not be mandatory.

“If your team needs to develop some sort of enhancement to an existing set of systems, a low-code platform can provide a bridge to doing that. It’s really powerful, especially when the tools allow you to go down in the guts” mentioned Blair Hanley Frank, principal analyst at know-how analysis and advisory agency ISG. “At the same time, you’re taking on a risk as an enterprise because the deeper these systems go, the more central they are to business processes and the more reliant you are on the ongoing licensing and maintenance of these systems to keep the core parts of the business going.”

In some instances, it makes lots of sense to make use of low code, however not at all times. In Frank’s expertise, a person enterprise’s necessities are typically much less distinctive than the corporate believes and due to this fact it could be wiser to buy off-the-shelf software program that features upkeep. For instance, why construct a CRM system when Salesforce affords a strong one? In addition, Salesforce employs extra builders than most enterprises.

About six years in the past, Bruce Buttles, digital channels director at medical health insurance firm Humana, was of the opinion that low code/no code programs “weren’t there yet,” however he was in the end confirmed incorrect.

“I looked at them and spent about three months building what would be our core product, four or five different ways using different platforms. I was the biggest skeptic,” mentioned Buttles. “My criteria was simple: Whoever wins the battle is the one left standing that I can’t break.”

Bruce Buttles, Humana

Bruce Buttles, Humana

Now the corporate has a complete of seven purposes, all constructed with OutSystems’ low code. The first one allows the 40,000 unbiased insurance coverage brokers promoting Medicare plans to get early entry to the knowledge they’re going to want to assist their shoppers since Medicare insurance policies change yearly. Traditionally, these insurance coverage brokers have acquired complete libraries of PDFs.

Buttles reframed the issue, pondering by way of an software versus PDFs, however he did not suppose low code was the proper device as a result of the viewers was 40,000 brokers, which meant the platform needed to be scalable. He was additionally involved concerning the complexity of the info.

For the primary time within the firm’s historical past, his crew aggregated three core datasets. The first dataset was plan data from 12 completely different back-end programs. The second dataset contained details about Humana’s 1,500 brokers, their headshots, markets, and regional maps. The third dataset was all of the plan data within the networks associated to Human’s plans. Using conventional software growth, he was given an eight-month window and a value which he declined to share. With low code, he constructed the applying in eight weeks at 1 / 4 of the initially quoted value.

“I said, ‘Let’s go’, because we had no other alternative. Eight months could easily turn into 12 and when you add up the dollars and the timeline, it became prohibitive. The company couldn’t afford it,” mentioned Buttles. “I wouldn’t blame anyone for being skeptical about this. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t lived it myself.”

Five years later, COVID-19 hit. By that point, Buttles’ crew had constructed a Pharmacy Finder software and was within the strategy of constructing a Provider Finder software. However, the decision middle was spiking with calls about how one can discover a COVID testing web site. Worse, the decision middle was utilizing a large spreadsheet to reply questions. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t working too properly.

Buttles’ crew leveraged the work they had been doing on the Provider finder to interchange the spreadsheet with an software that would save the decision middle time and frustration. Moreover, Humana members may merely go to the Humana web site and shortly discover a COVID testing location, circumventing the decision middle. The software was inbuilt 4 weeks versus the six to 9 months Buttles estimated to ship to construct it the normal approach.

“I was like, we need to build a big back office. To build it we needed 10 or a dozen people who are constantly out there, combing the Internet, combing through calls logs. We basically became an advocate for testing locations throughout the whole country by adding this back office,” Buttles mentioned.

Security Matters

Enterprise-grade platforms tackle safety, privateness, and governance, that are fundamental enterprise necessities. In at present’s evolving cybersecurity risk panorama, which is morphing from single firm breaches to provide chain assaults, low-code or no-code platform safety is a should.

“Most large IT organizations are clearly using some low-code/no-code model today but they’re going through some pretty large learnings,” mentioned Stephen Elliott, program vp, administration software program and DevOps at IDC. “They’re realizing this could be a viable model, but we better have guardrails for security, governance, and usage.”

Stephen Elliott, IDC

Stephen Elliott, IDC

IDC advises massive enterprises to spend money on planning and technique when an organization is considering mission-critical purposes. In addition to pondering the enterprise outcomes or the enterprise relevance of the applying, enterprises must also think about safety, governance, compliance, and audit.

“Security should be a conversation for every product or project, and then it becomes what are the layers? What is the right strategy? What are the right tools, processes and people?” mentioned Elliott. “I think the smart organizations are really addressing security as the key theme.”

Obviously, do not overlook information safety and privateness given GDPR and CCPA.

“The data you’re dealing with is probably at least as important as the platform you’re running on,” mentioned Randy Potter, chief architect, at international consulting agency Capgemini Americas. “If you look at the big providers, they’re very attuned to security concerns, so you can potentially ride on the backs of their coattails and leverage what they’re doing on the security side of things. I do think you have to be extremely cautious about visibility and transparency — lifting the hood and looking underneath to be able to make specific customizations as well as tracing and monitoring.”

Randy Potter, Capgemini Americas

Randy Potter, Capgemini Americas

Still, dangerous actors by no means sleep. They’re continually dreaming up new methods of compromising purposes and platforms. This requires the platform distributors to be vigilant and proactive about their very own platform’s safety in addition to the safety of the purposes constructed with the platform. For instance, Humana’s Buttles mentioned, OutSystems will level out issues in code and can even go so far as blocking a deployment to make sure code high quality and safety.

However, if a foul actor did infiltrate one of many low-code/no-code platforms, how would possibly they do it?

“There’s two scenarios here: You create an app that exposes too much data so that app is vulnerable to data leakage, although the bigger risk is where a bad actor discovers a problem in the platform itself,” mentioned Matias Madou,  CTO at main safe coding platform, Secure Code Warrior. “If you’re a developer, you’re under pressure to crank out functionality so I think a better way forward is thinking more proactively about quality, [including] the security aspects.”

In addition, enterprises should not be shy about telling low-code/no-code platform distributors what their safety necessities are, Madou mentioned.

“I think quite often we’re building code on top of code to protect code, but ultimately, we have to ask why the code is broken in the first place,” mentioned Madou. “Let’s make sure the developer knows what he’s doing so the next line of code can be developed with security in mind, with quality in mind, with everything in mind so there are fewer problems down the road.”

Related Content:

Is There a Case for Using Low Code to Develop End-User Apps?

Why CIOs Must Set the Rules for No-Code, Low-Code, Full-Code

Are No Code and Low Code Answers to the Dev Talent Gap?   


Lisa Morgan is a contract author who covers large information and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, stories, and different sorts of content material to numerous publications and websites starting from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of protection embrace … View Full Bio

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