According to Mendix, a Siemens business and global leader in low-code application development for the enterprise, the next chapter of low-code adoption will transform traditional DevOps practices governing IT operations including software deployment, testing, security, and maintenance to radically boost operational and cost efficiencies.
Mendix executives have coined the term “low-code operations” or Low-CodeOps to describe the ability of low-code development platforms to automate and reduce an enterprise’s operational burden.
Forrester analysts cite increased automation as a key trend for IT infrastructure and operations professionals this year, while the recent Forrester Wave report lauds low-code as the industry’s most comprehensive approach to automation.
“Our overall vision is to extend low-code’s proven ability to launch digital solutions quickly into the adjacent domains of IT maintenance and operations within large, hybrid environments,” says Maarten Smeets, VP of cloud deployment and operations at Mendix. “This will maximize the speed and agility that are core benefits of the low-code platform for the full application lifecycle.”
Adds Hans de Visser, VP of product management at Mendix: “Low-code operations presents an opportunity for DevOps to become more economically efficient, seamlessly balancing risk mitigation with the business imperative to rapidly scale digital solutions for new business use cases.”
The move from fully managed aPaaS to private and hybrid clouds
Market forces driving the move toward low-code operations include the rapid acceleration of hybrid and multi-cloud adoption; Gartner analysts predict that 75% of midsize and large organizations will adopt hybrid or multi-cloud this year.
Enterprises are increasingly turning to infrastructure-agnostic strategies to meet extensive security requirements in industries such as finance, defense, and healthcare, as they expand cloud deployments in new geographic regions.
These moves, however, lay bare the shortage of software engineers and IT specialists with the expertise to provision and orchestrate software deployments on Kubernetes clusters, or to address other requirements of private and virtually private cloud workloads.
“Low-code operations automates and abstracts away this complexity, democratizing DevOps by putting container management and provisioning skills in the hands of more people, such as IT system administrators and software developers,” de Visser said.
According to de Visser, the last decade saw enterprises move away from on-premises data centers, turning to application platform as a service (aPaaS) and one-click deployment on fully managed public clouds. “But now, the pendulum is swinging back with new use cases for private cloud,” de Visser said.
“Enterprises using low-code to develop software should not have to worry about the underlying framework, or build their own CI/CD pipelines by hand to move their applications to a private cloud deployment. They should have a similar, one-click user experience.”
Key aspects of Low-Code Operations
“Application deployment is one step on the full DevOps checklist,” Smeets said. Teams must also ensure software is always available and running properly. Ongoing performance monitoring, resource provisioning for infrastructure and data, security compliance and other processes “eat up countless hours of software engineering time that could be better spent on innovation.”
Automated workflows, developed with low-code visual modelers, can streamline core DevOps tasks:
Fine-grained compliance Each industry has its own requirements for customized monitoring and compliance. Financial enterprises, for example, must test extensively on data validation and security. Data privacy laws also vary by country. Compliance with export controls and intellectual property regulations is fundamental for businesses selling products globally.
“If you do not leverage low-code operations to automate these functions, release schedules will expand from days to several months, essentially giving up one of low-code’s most important advantages — speed to deployment and reduced time to value,” Smeets said.
Performance monitoring Scheduling, system-wide notifications, event-triggered monitoring, and log-checks of platform infrastructure are the mainstays of modern DevOps, confirming availability and operating standards of complex interdependent landscapes. In addition, system monitoring should be easily customized to align with business KPIs.
Said Smeets: “Enterprises need the flexibility to customize monitoring parameters for applications and pipelines serving targeted business requirements. If those mission-critical functions stall, alarm bells should go off to enable fast resolution.”
Security Over the last decade, security testing has consumed more DevOps time and resources. According to Smeets: “Requirements have ballooned far beyond applying the latest security patches.” Vulnerability scanning for security and compliance must be addressed at the earliest stages of application development and continue through the operations stages of testing and maintenance, resolving any issues within strictly regulated timeframes.
“Organizations can strike the right balance between risk mitigation and speed, achieving faster release schedules if they also have the appropriate tools to ensure that their technology landscape is secure and stability is not compromised,” said Smeets.
Infrastructure as code The surprising notion that infrastructure can be flexible and malleable is familiar to IT professionals, having implemented last decade’s transition from bare metal servers to software-defined virtual data centers.
Today, hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services, Alibaba, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM Hybrid Cloud leverage virtual infrastructure, including containerization and API services, to conduct myriad cloud-based operations.
Even so, changing vendors, switching platforms, or spinning up new cloud operations in different geographic locations can be time-consuming for DevOps teams. With low-code operations, DevOps can apply the principle of “build once and run everywhere,” which requires less brain power from a smaller number of people.
“By automating these functions with low-code, we can set up new cloud services in different parts of the globe, hit a button that executes a script on an external cloud platform, and set up an entire virtual data center within hours instead of months. That’s infrastructure as low-code,” said Smeets.
Future-proofing DevOps with low-code
This past year, the industry trend to use secure, highly available cloud-based software deployment enabled organizations to meet the needs of remote workers and online customers.
As enterprises ride that momentum to pursue digital applications and processes that integrate legacy systems with edge computing, IoT connectivity, AI enablement, new forms of data mining, and virtual and augmented reality integrations, the efficiencies of low-code development and operations are paramount.
Low-CodeOps will safeguard DevOp teams by combining the most powerful software development platform with efficient and flexible operations tools. Low-CodeOps infuses both domains with solid guardrails for operational control and predictability. Adopting this approach greatly reduces time-to-value for enterprises, relieves stress on IT departments, and ultimately, puts innovative digital solutions directly into the hands of end-users with the click of a mouse.
In a pandemic-disrupted world, software is the new lifeblood of our daily lives and the connective tissue holding together the global economy. However, traditional software development takes far too long and very often fails to deliver the results business needs and users love.
The global pandemic has accelerated and exacerbated what was already a software and business crisis. Enter low-code software development. Low-code from Mendix is a powerful, enterprise-grade visual development approach empowering citizen and professional developers to make cloud-native applications more than 10X faster for web and mobile using drag-and-drop components and model-driven logic – all through an intuitive graphical user interface.