Solutions such as these had often lived in the dark corners of “shadow IT,” where small, departmental teams create quick-and-dirty apps. “Shadow IT, or rogue IT, has been seen as a bad thing, but should be seen as a positive,” Roos said. “A strategic platform can make business more agile and competitive.”

OutSystems’ Rapid Application Delivery Platform is meant to put IT at ease by allowing control to remain there. “Shadow IT is always a pain for IT, because IT ends up getting things that are not maintainable, because the tool cannot evolve with the software,” Rosado said. “You need IT buy-in [for low-code solutions], because ultimately they’re the ones who will end up managing these types of platforms” and the applications created in them.

The platform, Rosado said, is a model-driven toolset integrated with the back-end systems that works out of the box with OutSystems’ cloud platform. “So you can do QA, staging and deployment right from the platform. IT installs it, and will start using it out of our cloud to do iterative development,” he said.

Rosado noted the platform facilitates very fast iteration cycles. “When the code stabilizes, then you stage it to a production environment with one-click staging, and all elements of the app get deployed,” he said. Once deployed, the platform will measure latency on the client and server sides, and when issues are detected, you can troubleshoot to find the component that’s the culprit and complete cycles to change the code within minutes, he added.

For Mendix, speed is a byproduct of its platform, not the end. “It’s about agility and collaboration between business and IT,” Roos said.

Overcoming developer fear
When developers hear “low-code solution,” a chill runs down their spines, as they envision having to correct and maintain Frankenstein-ian creations built by – gulp! – business people who wouldn’t know a line of code from a plate of spaghetti.

Yet OutSystems CEO Paolo Rosado believes it is possible to convince developers that these platforms can in fact make them more productive.

The main objections developers have to these kinds of platforms are:

  • Fear of losing control of their code
  • Getting locked in to a vendor and a platform
  • The ability to do complex work
  • The power and openness of the platform

Rosado said developers will be more accepting of a low-code platform is they can see the underlying code that’s been abstracted away for their convenience, and if they can be sure the platform is powerful enough to handle big, complex applications and integrations beyond the simple workflows and forms. “To gain IT acceptance,” he said, “the platform needs to be open and powerful, and developers have to feel that they are not locked into boxes they can’t get out of.”