Public clouds and big tech target low-code capabilities – Reseller News

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I’ve been using low-code and no-code platforms for almost two decades to build internal workflow applications and rapidly develop customer-facing experiences.

I always had development teams working on Java, .NET, or PHP applications built on top of SQL and NoSQL datastores, but the business demand for applications far exceeded what we could develop. Low-code and no-code platforms provided an alternative option when the business requirements matched the platform’s capabilities.

I recently shared seven low-code platforms developers should know and what IT leaders can learn from low-code platform CTOs. Many of these platforms have been around longer than a decade, and some support tens of thousands of business applications.

Over time these platforms have improved capabilities, developer experiences, hosting options, enterprise security, devops tools, application integrations, and other competencies that enable rapid development and easy maintenance of functionally rich applications.

So when the public clouds and big tech companies got more interested in low-code platforms, I was skeptical. First, the public clouds target development and engineering teams that want to code applications, automate CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous deployment) pipelines, and instantiate infrastructure as code.

Developing products for citizen developers and others who want to develop with low-code requires different experiences, tools, and functionality.

Second, the stand-alone low-code platforms have evolved through multiple computing paradigms; some go back to client-server days. I had my doubts that newcomers would offer matching capabilities and the strategies and motivations to re-engineer to remain relevant.

I found a mix of different developer experiences and advanced capabilities from the public cloud and big tech companies. In some cases, the low-code platforms are woefully behind stand-alone platforms. In other cases, they are demonstrating how low-code can enable machine learning, chatbots, voice interfaces, spatial search, and more.

Power Apps leads with apps, integration, and machine learning

Microsoft Power Apps and Power Automate (formally Microsoft Flow) went general availability in October 2016, and new versions are released weekly. In that time, Power Apps has evolved into a very rich low-code application development environment to build forms and workflows that connect to multiple data sources.

Power Automate now has more than 400 connectors that developers can use to move data in and out of applications and a separate robotic process automation skill.

What sets Power Apps apart is AI Builder, a set of low-code capabilities enabling developers to connect data to natural language processing, image processing, and machine learning. You can train models to categorise and identify entities in text, extract information from forms, identify objects in images, or run predictive models.

Some examples include training models to pull invoice data from PDF forms or process photos to update product inventory automatically.

The newest offering, Power Virtual Agents, a low-code chatbot platform, went general availability at the end of 2019. The combination of building a low-code app with an embedded chatbot and integrating workflow with other SaaS solutions can be very powerful.

Some example tutorials include chatbots that help users submit project ideas, answer questions during the COVID crisis, or perform simple functions such as getting today’s weather.

Apple’s, Google’s, and Oracle’s ongoing investment in low-code capabilities


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