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Monday, May 20th, 2019

Application development

High-productivity, low-code development ends legacy system gridlock

Maintaining large aging app portfolios has become a significant hindrance for companies who are working to become virtualized and agile modern enterprises. Modernizing has become increasingly crucial for competing against nimble upstarts unburdened by deeply ingrained cultures, processes, and layers of code. 

“The legacy gridlock problem is huge,” noted Paulo Rosado, CEO and founder of OutSystems. Seventy percent of IT budgets are spent maintaining large portfolios of legacy apps, including aging systems and brittle, over-customized ERP and CRM systems. This massive technical debt is a roadblock to business innovation, and it opens the door to disruption by more agile competitors.” 

For this reason, a growing number of enterprises are turning to low-code development platforms for faster development and integration of mobile and web apps. A platform like OutSystems, which was named a Leader in Gartner’s 2018 High Productivity Application Platform as a Service Magic Quadrant report, has evolved to focus primarily on enterprise-class systems that can address an entire app portfolio. 

“We see high-productivity application Platform as a Service continuing to accelerate its relevance to enterprise IT, incorporating capabilities for 70% to 80% of IT application requirements,” Gartner wrote. These platforms free enterprises from slow, expensive, and high-risk traditional options for dealing with legacy gridlock, which entail “open-heart surgery” on packaged applications or custom development projects that take years and add layers of complexity to the codebase. 

Digital-era capabilities

OutSystems 11, the newest version of the industry-leading low-code development platform, features capabilities that address critical issues like the skyrocketing demand for new business applications, the need to modernize aging legacy systems, and the shortage of necessary developer skills. 

“Now, for the first time, there is a low-code technology able to change the economics of building large core systems and their supporting apps and services, instead of buying and endlessly customizing commercially available systems to make them fit,” added Rosado.

For instance, OutSystems 11 makes it easy and quick to develop scheduled account reconciliation processes, event-based triggers for payment processing, or a process engine with thousands of business rules for handling millions of transactions.

The low-code platform enables this with six new capabilities:

  • Architectural agility at scale: Eliminate hours spent validating and fixing cross-architecture impacts on complex sets of apps or large systems.In-depth pre-release impact analysis of entire systems provides advance warning so builds don’t break. Teams can effectively implementa full-fledged microservices architecture. They can safely create and change reusable services and applications fast and at scale.

  • Monitoring and troubleshooting at scale: Embedded monitoring, out-of-the-box analytics, and built-in dashboards give real-time visibility into large portfolios of interconnected apps and services. As a result, they can identify potential problems before they impact the health of other systems, including SaaS and external legacy systems.

  • Governance at scale: Manage hundreds of developers working in the same platform and control who can create, manage, and consume services, using a full entitlement model that extends to all apps and services. Structure your organization based on delivery streams that work in parallel for each business area.

  • Operations at scale: Standardize operations and increase scalability, resilience, and portability by deploying apps and services to container-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service providers, including Amazon ECS, Azure Container Service, Pivot PAS, and on-premises Docker container environments.

  • Modern user experiences at scaleA UI framework ensures brand and user experience consistency. Deliver apps with a modern look-and-feel and user interfaces across multiple delivery streams. Developers can access screen templates and patterns derived from analyzing leading consumer apps directly from the OutSystems visual editor. Then, they can customize, extend, and reuse them as needed.

  • Security without borders: Scale the security of systems and apps beyond the traditional boundaries of IT. Automated risk assessments, granular access controls, and activity-monitoring replace manual processes and provide the necessary visibility and due diligence required of large application portfolios.

Enterprises modernize 

These capabilities have drawn OutSystems enterprise customers to embrace low-code development for overhauling their large systems.

Global energy company EDP replaced its entire payment processing gateway that manages millions of transactions every month. Industry leader Schneider Electric built a “Low-Code Digital Factory” that turned out 30 new apps in its first 15 months, expanded the company’s governance across continents, and saved 650 developer hours in the first year alone.

Vopak, one of the world’s largest liquid bulk storage operators, re-wrote its entire ERP system—a project originally slated for three years­in just 16 months. “In parallel, we are phasing out our old ERP system and will only support our business with PaaS and SaaS applications going forward,” said Vopak CIO Leo Brand. 

Insurance company Fidelidade modernized its core applications with a web-based UI and took advantage of a service-based architecture to access services from its core mainframe systems. “We use it to develop all front-end integration applications and also to refactor all the small client-server applications that we have,” said Cristina Arbués, its information systems manager. 

Read more examples like these on the OutSystems Case Studies pages. These customers are transforming their businesses with low-code, and they testify to the tremendous market momentum of high-productivity solutions that are fast becoming a critical part of the enterprise IT stack. 

This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by OutSystems.