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By: on November 1, 2021
Low-code development has become increasingly popular since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Low-code technologies allow organizations to build and customize fully responsive, easy-to-deploy applications with little to no coding. It accelerates digital transformation and empowers citizens developers. In this episode of DevOps Unbound, hosts Alan Shimel and Mitch Ashley are joined by Derya Sousa (Kianda), Andrew Manby (HCL) and Brian ven den Blink (Valori) to discuss the benefits of low code and how it is transforming software development. The video is below and a transcript of the conversation follows.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of DevOps Unbound. DevOps Unbound is a biweekly panel session on all things DevOps, of all things—hence the name, DevOps Unbound. It is sponsored by our good friends at Tricentis, and many thanks to Tricentis for sponsoring DevOps Unbound.
For those of you who are catching DevOps Unbound for the first time, in addition to our biweekly panel sessions like this, which are pre-recorded, we also do a monthly live roundtable open to the audience, and you are one of the guests at the roundtable where you get to ask questions and steer the panel discussion yourself. So, if you go to DevOpsUnbound.com or check it out on Digital Anarchist, TechStrongGroup.com, or DevOps.com, you’ll be able to see the schedule and maybe join in one of our live roundtables.
Today, though, is one of our pre-recorded panels—and what a panel we have. Our topic today is low code/no code and many of its aspects and flavors, if you will.
But before we jump into that, I want to introduce you to our panel today—and I thought we lost one there for a second, but we’re okay. Let me first introduce you to Brian ven den Blink. Brian, welcome to DevOps Unbound.
Brian ven den Blink: Thank you, Alan. Yeah, I’m Brian, I work for Valori, it’s a company in the Netherlands. We completely focus on testing, so we don’t have any developers, it’s really all about testing for us, and I worked there for about eight years now. I started, really, as a tester of test automation, et cetera, but then I also noticed in the assignments I did that it was also important to learn something about requirements, how do you get them ready to be tested.
So, I focused also a few years on business analysis to get going and know what I need for testing, up until, I think, approximately five years ago when I came into contact with OutSystems, and really focusing now on testing solutions specifically for the OutSystems platform and seeing how can you use a low code platform in your benefit as a tester. And yeah, it really opened a lot of opportunities for me, I think, but also for testers, like, how can you work with low code and use it for your testing strategy, so.
Alan Shimel: Excellent, and thank you very much, Brian. Next, let me introduce you to Derya Sousa, and I’ve been trying all through our prelim to get it right, I hope I did, but if not, say it correctly, but please introduce yourself. Okay, three time’s the charm. I’m sorry—go ahead.
Derya Sousa: It’s great to be here on this panel today. Thank you so much for having me, first of all. So, I’m Derya Sousa, I’m the Co-founder and COO of a company called Kianda Technologies, based in Ireland, helping companies across the globe. Kianda is a no code/low code application development platform, and we are the enablers of digital transformation and accelerators of digital transformation for companies.
My background is in IT. I worked as a developer IT consultant across different companies, industries during my career, and I came across the fact of how difficult it is to deliver digital solutions for companies. That’s how the idea of Kianda was born in mid-2016, with the vision of helping people regardless of their technical skills to create the technology they need.
Alan Shimel: Okay, thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing and thank you for joining us today. Our next panel member is Andrew—excuse me, it’s Andrew Manby, correct? Andrew, if you wouldn’t mind introducing yourself?
Andrew Manby: Sure. My name’s Andrew Manby. I head up Product Management for our Digital Solutions Portfolio here at HCL Software. You know, in our portfolio, we have both professional developer low code platforms and also citizen developer low code platforms.
A little bit about me, I’ve been involved in multiple successful software products. Some of them you may know about, a product called DataStage, which we created back in a former company that really, along with Informatica, lit the imagination of the data integration market and have also been involved in other market spaces as well, including bringing thought leadership to IBM around big data analytics.
Alan Shimel: Excellent. And then, last but not least, not necessary a panel member, but a panel member, but he’s also my Co-host for DevOps Unbound, it’s TechStrong Group CTO and TechStrong Research Principal and Co-founder, Mitchell Ashley. Hey, Mitch, how are you?
Mitch Ashley: Hey, Alan, always good to be doing a panel together and for the folks on the panel I know, good to see you again. Folks that I’ve met for the first time, like our audience—good to have you all here. I know we’ll have a great discussion.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. Thanks. So, guys and gal, let me kick this off. As I was talking about before we went live, I almost view the low code/no code discussion with a BC, Before COVID, time frame, right? Much like ADBC, we have DC and then pre-COVID. I think—and Derya, you’re living proof of this. Low code/no code was alive and well prior to COVID, right? You started in 2016. Low code/no code’s been around, obviously, much longer than that.
But certainly, with the onset of COVID and the pandemic, never have we seen a need to do more, faster, to get apps out better, to expand the base of people who can develop like we have this past going on almost two years now, right, year and a half—well, more than a year and a half, two years. And so, we’ve seen sort of a rapid development in the state of low code/no code.
And Derya, I don’t mean to pick on you, but I’m gonna ask you to kinda kick us off, here. I gotta assume that this is what you’ve seen at your company in particular over the last year and a half to two years.
Derya Sousa: I think to start with, I could tell you, when we founded Kianda, when we would say low code/no code platform, our audience would say, “What do you mean?” Now, we came to a stage that anyone we talk to understands now, most of the people we are talking to, they understand what we do because of this trend and the movement that’s happening with the help of the unfortunate event of the pandemic. But low code/no code was always here, solutions that we had. It started long, long—years ago. You know, we were using Excel sheets, we were using Access, we were using WordPress back then to create our website. So, they are, I think, the initial solutions that we started to use.
But it came to a stage that the surge of the remote working, the surge of the digitalization needs that are growing really dramatically now in the last two years, it’s going into more enterprises, it’s going into more organization level. And what we are seeing, this is a problem that’s not a new problem. Currently, only 0.5 percent of the work population is capable of coding.
So, what was happening before was, you know, business users, anyone working in organizations, they were in need for technical solutions, and they were always waiting for IT teams to go in and create these systems for them. But it’s changing now, there is more inclusivity in creating technologies, empowering people, regardless of them knowing how to code or not. It’s giving an amazing world of opportunities for people who were not able to be part of it, be actively part of digital transformation are now becoming what we call citizen developers to create these technology companies, organizations are in need. And of course, we live in a digital first world now with everything that’s going on around us. Any company who doesn’t try to benefit leverage from these technologies that are rapid application development are gonna stay, unfortunately, behind when it comes to competitive advantages and improving or creating that economical value for the organizations.
Alan Shimel: Agreed. Folks on my panel—thoughts, follow on to that?
Andrew Manby: Yeah, I have a few thoughts. So, you know, as Mitch and I have discussed a couple of times, right—for me, low code or sort of no code has been around for a long period of time. In fact, my father-in-law was programming in dBase, you know, many years ago, right? [Laughter]
Alan Shimel: That’s another name I haven’t heard in a while.
Andrew Manby: Yeah, okay, let’s get Delphi, FoxPro, all of those things out on the table. Let’s do it.
Mitch Ashley: I think I met your father-in-law, so. [Laughter] [Cross talk] dBase.
Andrew Manby: [Laughter] Yeah. So, all of these things have been around for a long period of time, right? And if technology has taught us anything is, they evolve to serve a particular need and that’s because the business was trying to accomplish a particular outcome, right? So, they built something, they’ve effectively had it deployed.
Now, what’s happened now is, you know, we have a lot more tech savvy people in the workforce and, you know, IT is taking a little bit more of a proactive approach. They want a bit more governance, they want a bit more standardization, they also want to be assured of the security and governance of what the business buys, and I think this generation of low code and also no code tools, which I think are two separate things, by the way—
Alan Shimel: Absolutely.
Andrew Manby: – help us to do that. And so, you know, I don’t think it’s new. You know, what’s actually interesting—and I hope we’re gonna get to this, Alan—is the type of things that we’re seeing that people are building with these individual products.
So, I think it was always there beforehand. I think a lot of organizations like, for instance, we have one major airline and there’s a couple of hundred people who are business users building applications on it, right? But typically, you know, to be clear, a lot of them are employee-facing, and they fill the gap between some of those traditional enterprise applications or maybe to some of those SaaS franchises that we often hear about now to get the job done, right? So, I think it was alive and well before, and I think it’s continuing.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely, it’s continuing, but I think it’s changing. And Brian, I think you might serve as a poster child.
Brian ven den Blink: I think, actually, if you look a few years ago, like maybe four or five years ago, a lot of companies were maybe starting to work with, for example, health systems with low code platforms, using them as smaller apps, basically, in their organization.
For example, you know, logging hours of your work, whatever, and then starting to grow, like—hey, we can really get to a product really fast, and then other departments of the organization see, hey, they realized an app in a few months, and it’s interesting to maybe expand on it. And then you see, like, a center of excellence within a company start to build apps, and then it grows bigger, and now, I think, currently more and more organizations actually use low code for their core applications as well. So, actually, the most important processes are also done with low code nowadays, and it’s growing like that, because they see the benefits, I guess. And when I see—
Alan Shimel: Well, why shouldn’t they?
Brian ven den Blink: – yeah. And what I see in my work as well is that, if you work in a high code environment, it might be difficult for a tester or for a business analyst to say, “Hey, this is how it works” and dive into the product, you know, dive into the code, then you need these technical skills. But I think with low code, it’s easier, for example, for a tester to say, “Is this really what we meant with this piece of software?” and you can really get the dialogue going with your developer, even with your product owner, for example, to see, is it really doing what we want it to do, and how can we improve it, for example? And that’s so much easier in a low code environment, I think, than in a high code environment.
Mitch Ashley: You know, Alan, there’s some—Accelerated Strategies, now TechStrong Research did some research earlier this year on low code/no code and there were some interesting trends in that. And I think part of it was driven by, Derya was talking about the effect of the pandemic; you were, as well. That rose software to prominence in terms of business strategy must-have capabilities. And along with that, sort of low code/no code was sort of viewed by IT as something that happened outside of IT, we don’t really care about it, the business units are doing something, whatever, to it is a mainstream platform.
And I’m not saying it wasn’t before, but I think the embracing of low code/no code as a strategy, I think that improved over the last 18 months, and you can also see it by the need to access data, what information people need to get to, because no application is truly an island. They eventually have to get security, they eventually have to get to data and other systems and the fact that, Andrew, you talk about citizen developers and professional developers both as IT viewing those as legitimate creators of applications.
Are you seeing that trend as well? That certainly bore out in our research.
Andrew Manby: Yeah, so, we have some of our own survey that’s coming out very shortly that we did with Forrester. You know, we actually found that, from a business decision making perspective for the people surveyed, 80 percent of them said that low code was one of the top three IT priorities for the organization, right?
Mitch Ashley: Mm-hmm.
Andrew Manby: You know, 77 percent of the respondents actually said that, you know, agility and velocity were the two most important things to their business in achieving that.
So yeah, I think companies are realizing that. I do think that there’s a couple of other different phenomena, and I think, Mitch, you and I have talked about this when we’ve had a separate conversation. I do think there are the organically grown stuff that Brian was talking about, which is, you know, you provide a citizen development tool, you establish a center of excellence, right, and then you sort of start draining the desire of the organization to fill the gap with building these applications.
But I think there’s also—and maybe you touched on it, Brian—you know, organizations are taking also a top down type approach, right? And they’re saying, what are the important digital touch points I have in my organization and, given the advent of COVID, what do I need to be able to fill the gap or continue my business, right? So, if I’m a retailer, through the early part of COVID, one of the biggest challenges I had was, how do I handle, you know, touchless commerce? How do I pick up the deliveries and still allow my retail department to function, right?
Or say, for instance, I’m a tax office, right, and all of a sudden, you know, the tax function, there’s no people in the office, and what we want people to do is start filing an abeyance request to delay the delivery of the taxes—how are you gonna do that? Or, you know, families are looking for special support, family services support, right? So, those types of things have suddenly become very, very important and low code, whether it was built by the IT organization or it was built by the business has really helped to fill the void. Sometimes, there have been brand new things, and sometimes they’re just really about adapting the business to the new reality.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. Let me weigh in, here. You know, I think prior to the pandemic, there is a long history of low code as I think, Andrew, you pointed out, right, though it may not have been called low code then. But prior to the pandemic, low code/no code was around, but a lot of people viewed it as, “Look, if I’ve gotta get something done simply, it’s Minecraft, you know, for adults.” It’s easy, you know, for simple—as I think, Brian, you mentioned, it’s good if I wanna track my hours or something like that. It’s a glorified spreadsheet.
And then I think what we’ve seen with the pandemic is, in my mind, we’ve seen three branches of low code/no code, and I think, Andrew and Mitchell, you both mentioned it. One is no code, and I gotta be really honest with you—I got a problem with that. I have the same problem with no code that I have with no ops. I think that’s pure marketing, and I don’t know what you can truly, truly do with just no code. And we can talk about that, feel free when I’m done if you guys wanna jump.
Andrew Manby: I’m just thinking about your Excel spreadsheet, right?
Alan Shimel: Uh huh.
Andrew Manby: You know, Excel is no code until you type in that formula.
Alan Shimel: Right, and then all of a sudden, you better—take it from me, I’m illiterate on Excel formulas, so I know there’s code there.
Mitch Ashley: Because you put in an expression, you’re now coding, right?
Andrew Manby: Yeah, exactly. [Laughter]
Alan Shimel: But when we look at quote-unquote low code, here is the big takeaway with COVID for me is, we have low code for developer teams—and Brian, I’m gonna include testers in there, because testers were already scripting and doing some coding in order to write their test.
So, we have low code for development teams—DevOps teams, whatever you wanna call them, developers—and then we have low code for the quote-unquote citizen developer. These are people who traditionally didn’t do any development other than maybe spreadsheets. And, you know, lo and behold, the business analyst, the person over in Sales or Marketing or in HR, they now have the capability of not having to wait or go through that whole IT process driven formula, but they could use some paint by numbers and relatively easily build a very functional application. Don’t equate citizen developer with simple app. There’s some sophisticated stuff we can do now.
Brian ven den Blink: Alan, I wanted to react to that is that, indeed, the citizen developers, but also the IT development teams working with low code.
Alan Shimel: Yep.
Brian ven den Blink: But what I do see is that more and more companies choose low code to basically restructure their, how do you say, legacy applications, you know, rebuild it or rethink their software. And I think it’s really crucial to still have—maybe you can work with citizen developers as part of, okay, what are the business requirements we need and how are we gonna implement it, et cetera. But it’s super important, I think, to still have your development skills on par with what you need. Because even with low code, maybe it’s easier to make something, but you still need the same kind of skill set that the developer would have to know how do I structure things, you know, how do I set up my architecture around it. Those kinds of things are still development skills, maybe without coding, but it’s still development skills, I think.
And that’s why I think you always need maybe a senior developer, whatever, in your team to be able to handle those kinds of questions and then supported, I think, of course, by juniors or citizen developers even, but the development skills that you need to build an application are still very much necessary, I think.
Alan Shimel: Agreed. Derya, it looks like you wanted to—
Derya Sousa: I would like to add something, a point to what you said, Alan, to your definitions. So, there are solutions in the market that low code solutions, they generate code for a developer to go in and speed up this process of delivery and make the changes as they receive them.
Alan Shimel: Yeah.
Derya Sousa: There are solutions like what we provide. We don’t generate code, so we call ourselves as our customers call a true no code platform. However, we allow developers to go in and create widgets, create rules and actions that can help them bring that end to end business application to life. And I think that’s important, because there is a good bit of differentiation between them, and from our experience, we work with IT teams as well as Business Departments.
Alan Shimel: Yeah.
Derya Sousa: But we start with IT Departments, because they’ve seen the benefits they can get—
Alan Shimel: The strength, the power.
Derya Sousa: – by using a platform like this—exactly, filling the gaps that they might have. And now, even since the pandemic, we are talking to more public entities for—public hospitals, for example, for government agencies. Even them, they tend to be slower to catch up with innovation and technologies. Even them are looking at low code/no code systems, how they can use their legacy systems, which they’ve been using maybe two decades, but they had no idea how, actually, they could bring a user-friendly interface on top of these systems.
So, that’s where, I think, solutions like rapid application development solutions that come into place and bring a lot of benefits to organizations.
Andrew Manby: Yeah, I would agree that certainly, you know, some of those you think are traditional sort of holdouts, right, typically on the laggards in the adoption curve are certainly doing that. You know, we’ve seen that in state government, we’ve seen that in large tax authorities. We’ve also seen that in the District of Columbia Motor Vehicle Registry. But I think also one of the things that I want to make sure that we add to the conversation, I sort of touched on it is, you know, I think organizations, I’m just thinking about actually the first private distribution only utility in North America is the Vermont Electric Company. And they, a lot of companies want to go through additional transformation, right? I know we’ve all heard that term, right? But they really set out a plan for a number of years to sort of think about how they could not only replace some of the legacy, but really sort of think about, you know, shifting the cheese on what does it mean to digitize the processes that they actually do.
So, I think, for some of the organizations, you know, they’re not only thinking about—okay, how do I put a new front end on an existing system where, you know, it’s been particularly inflexible. But I think also, a lot of them are a lot more, you know, thinking about how do I, you know, move the cheese? So, in the case of the D.C. DMV, how do I, for instance, say, “I don’t want to have people go into a motor vehicle registry to register their vehicle, right? I don’t need them to go into a public office to pay a parking fine or a speeding ticket—what if we just actually changed our processes and put it on one of these things, right?
So, I think a lot of organizations out there are actually thinking about low code in that way, and I think that’s where the conversation shifts from being an IT way and an enabler to also being—alright, you know, the CMO, the COO has a seat at the table and she is saying, “Look, how can we improve the engagement with our customers where our traditional ways of engagement with them have change significantly?” And I see probably equal amounts of companies coming to us and saying, “I’d like to do this,” right? You know, “I want to change the way people buy tires for their cars,” right?
Mitch Ashley: You know, in thinking about this, it seems that sometimes the terms we create don’t always serve us well, right?
Andrew Manby: Right, right.
Mitch Ashley: And, you know, visual programming is what we would’ve called low code maybe 5 or 10 years ago and you know, is a macro low code or no code? And actually, I don’t really care, it’s a macro, it’s just like—you know, is Python a scripting language or a programming language? I really don’t care. It sort of doesn’t matter. I think the end result is, you know, you talked about, Derya, the rapid application development, and I don’t mean the RAD term, but creating applications quickly and expanding the universe of people who can do that across the business is all good. I mean, it’s to the benefit, to the end of the business. And we can create a mess for ourselves, or we can do it well, in a way that it works together.
But I think, hopefully, we get to a point in a year or two where we don’t think about low code/no code, right, it’s just—it’s another way of, it’s an application platform for creating apps. And anybody can do it, because it’s—I mean, whether it’s no code, I don’t care if Trello’s a no code or a low code. I don’t care if Zapier is a low code or a no code, you know, just to pick a few commonly used things. I think we’re about the result we wanna get.
Andrew Manby: Yeah, I agree, Mitch. I mean, I think at the end of the day, you know, we obviously know that technology goes in cycles. You know, certainly, in our portfolio, we have low code that we would sell to a customer for doing that specific task, right, and those are broad sort of use cases.
But, you know, low code or that sort of no code citizen developer construct exists in our digital experience platform and it also exists in some technology we have specifically for the DevOps process, which is a low code version way of them to help orchestrate what they do in the DevOps process. And you think to yourself—well, are they a commercial low code tool? Well, no, but they’re bringing the, enshrining the value of a no code/low code tool to a specific challenge.
You know, maybe that will be the way that this market will evolve over time, but definitely, I would say that where we are right now is, it’s permeating into lots of different places, right? You know, does that mean that, say, is Monday a no code tool? But probably what makes it stickier is the fact that it has some no code type capabilities to it, right? And maybe that’s okay, right, for customizing certain types of applications.
Mitch Ashley: Well, it ventures into the whole workflow space, right? I mean, you know, Atlassian now is positioning themselves as a competitor to Monday and others as a workflow tool, and you could say that’s low code or no code, too. So, it’s really, when we talk about that as a segment of the market, it really is much bigger than just what we might narrowly define as low code.
Alan Shimel: Yeah. So, to me, the definition goes back to something Brian was talking about earlier, and that is—what’s the involvement of IT, right? Even with this citizen developer thing, I see it bifurcating. There are some cases where traditional IT teams are calling in a non-traditional IT person to help with the building, architecting, sizing of an app. And that non-traditional IT person benefits from the team being, using low code/no code tools, right? So, that’s one scenario with the IT Department’s involvement.
Then there’s sort of a shadow low code/no code development kinda operation without IT, right? Where—hey, man, it takes too long, I don’t wanna go through the whole change management process and the architecting, I just need this quickly. And I got the tool to do it and it’s cheap and it’s SaaS an it’s boom, boom, boom and I’m done. “Hey, where’d that come from?” “Eh, I built it.” “You built it?” “Yeah, I built it.” Right? And that’s powerful. I’m not gonna—let’s not kid ourselves. That’s a powerful enabler in an organization when the IT person says, “Hey, wait a second, where’d you get that?” “I built that.” Right?
How do those two jibe? And I think that’s really where the friction, where the rubber meets the road, and what is low code, what is no code, who does it? I think the delineation is, is IT involved or not? And, you know, Derya, you were saying most of your engagements are going through the IT Department. Brian, you seem to be on the IT Department is involved side of the house as well. Andrew, I’ve heard you go both ways here a little bit. But, to me, that’s the key sort of indicator.
Andrew Manby: Well, and Alan, can I ask you a question, then, right?
Alan Shimel: Sure.
Andrew Manby: You know, I tend to think about low code for citizen developers to be a bit like a sandbox, right? You know, I live—where I live, there’s a zoo a mile away, right, and there’s an area there and a kids’ playground, there’s a tent and there’s a sandbox underneath it, right? And it makes it very easy for the family to sit down and observe their kids, right?
So, you know, I think the way that no code is developing from an IT perspective, it’s trust but verify. Can I see what they’re doing? If they get into trouble, I can help them out, or as Derya said, you know, if there’s something that they need, right, maybe they need a specific widget to do a payment or they need something to deliver a package or they need some very specific type of math problem and they build an algorithm in the math lab and they want to bring it in, that’s when IT does that, but also, again, it’s that oversight and governance, right? Trust but verify, but you know, who’s using the application? What data do they have access to? Are they doing Select Star from HR executive salaries, right? Is someone curating those data sources for them so they can do no harm in their developments?
So, I think that’s the place where citizen development is going. I think that’s where organizations want to invest, that’s where they’ll put the COEs. I think the days of, say, my father-in-law building something in dBase will go away from an IT perspective.
Alan Shimel: So, let me use your sandbox analogy. I’ll put forth the proposition to you that most parents, a lot of mommies, take their kids to the sandbox and leave them there because it’s a relatively safe environment and they can concentrate on other things, maybe doing some of their own work or speaking to the other moms or what have you, and they consider it a safe environment to leave their kids, and they only keep half an eye on them versus, you know, being on swings or something. Same thing, here.
Andrew Manby: Exactly, Alan. So, I think, for me, you hit the nail on the head, right? If it’s about IT backlog, you’ve effectively given one strategy to halve or reduce your IT backlog because, with your supervision, right, the moms can go off and do something else which they focus on which really requires their skills.
Alan Shimel: Mm-hmm.
Andrew Manby: But then, you know, as citizen developers in the sandbox, I can get what I need done for the business faster. Isn’t it like a division of—
Alan Shimel: Well, let’s go try it.
Andrew Manby: – a division of labor?
Alan Shimel: It is sort of a division of labor because we’re not talking about kids in sandboxes. But when you have testers doing low code/no code, you know, building quick, being able to testing faster, better—that, to me, is a very different low code/no code use, right? That’s a—
Brian ven den Blink: What we often see, for example, with Tricentis, Tricentis is a low code testing tool, and I think it’s important as a company if, for example, I choose low code development for my core applications. Then also, you have to probably think about what does that mean for the other roles within the IT Department like, do we have to think about then, also, a low code testing tool that fits our development platform, for example? Often, I think what I still see happening is that we choose low code for several reasons and the decisions that help that. Also, you can rely on—okay, that’s the same decisions we need for our test tooling, for example. And I think what’s important is that I think what the low code opens is that you can work with a low code platform and use those capabilities for a testing perspective as well.
So, for example, if I test a process, it takes a lot of time to go through all the screens and to test a workflow, for example. And I’m testing a workflow and there’s all kinds of data I need to test specific outcomes of that workflow, try to find solutions in your platform to basically mock that data or to set that data up through a faster way than to going through all those screens, maybe you can use an API or you can leverage something out of the platform to make that faster. And I think that’s where low code testing comes in place is that it’s easier to shift left towards a developer and discuss those kinds of things. Like—okay, we have a requirement we want from this business perspective, what do we need to build that as a developer and what do we need as a tester to test that more efficiently? And I think that’s where the thing comes together is that if we discuss that within a team and then it’s really an IT thing, what do we need from a technology perspective to make everybody’s life easier, basically?
And I think low code, companies use low code, for example, because they have a challenge in finding the technical people to be able to build their apps. And we have similar challenges in testing that it’s difficult to find the technical people to build the technical scripts. So, there, I think we need to make sure, as a company, that you match these challenges in the same way that—okay, low code platforms probably also need low code testers, because you have, you know, you make those decisions for a reason, I guess. And that’s what I see in my work.
Yeah, it opens a lot of opportunities as a tester to be more efficient in your work and to make sure that you keep up the pace with your developers. Because low code development is a lot faster than traditional development, and if you don’t change as a tester as well, you will always be, like, a bottleneck in the process, because you’re not as fast anymore. And then that’s why you need to think of smarter solutions as well.
Alan Shimel: Derya, low code apps need low code testers?
Derya Sousa: Sorry?
Alan Shimel: Brian said something that if you have low code apps, it makes sense to have low code testers.
Derya Sousa: Low code testers—yeah, yeah, absolutely. Just to add to the original conversation about governance and security, I would like to maybe add a couple of points there. I think, again, the solution to what you mentioned, Alan, there is—yes, we deal with IT Departments and, you know, business users are being exposed to these solutions, low code/no code solutions—where is the security, who has access to what, and how we can implement governance. And it sounds like a broad concept, but you know, any organization would need to implement governance, you know, how they operate, what is moss, what is a shoot, what is a can for them to do and now to do things.
And the same approach should be implemented when it comes to employing this type of low code/no code solutions. So, just because the platform is like a LEGO building block or sandbox, as you mentioned, it doesn’t mean that we should forget about everything, it’s too exciting, let’s build whatever we need and, you know, roll it out quickly. I think the same approach as the company would have had in their change management, change control, governance, they all should be now considered the same way for low code/no code approaches, whether it’s IT building it or whether it’s business users building it.
And what we usually see that’s working is when IT and Business Departments work together. So, IT creates some kind of a controlled environment for these non-IT users to go in and create solutions while IT is shadowing them or supervising them, giving them tools they need. But at the end, it’s all a controlled environment where, I’m really the biggest fan of giving people free, innovative solutions that they can freely innovate and create solutions they need, but this should not come without a plan. So, a low code/no code system should not be implemented without a plan.
So, that’s why we are seeing sometimes a struggle that companies go through, because they see the opportunities, they start with one solution and they want to implement so many more in a couple of months’ period, and it can be challenging if there is no plan. It can be challenging if there is no strategy, overarching strategy that looks to different kind of aspects of how to implement such a rapid application development system, yeah.
Brian ven den Blink: Yeah, when we have—
Andrew Manby: I probably disagree, because I think there’s different modalities. I would say a lot of citizen developer low code is an either they develop it to prototype it and then hand it to IT once they’ve actually proven it, sometimes they’re there for a period of time so it’s literally like a pop-up booth or a food truck. You know, it arrives, it serves it purpose, and then it’s torn down, right? So, I don’t think you can necessarily have IT be involved in all of them.
I mean, certainly, you have some sort of, you know, diamond team to do that, but I don’t think it all happens like that. I think there’s different ways that, yeah, some of it is definitely planned out through IT and Business to deliver something. Sometimes it’s a cross functional team and it’s driven by the business. But I think part of the attraction of low code, and we mustn’t forget about it is, it’s that organic nature and the empowerment of the people in the business to get their job done.
And sometimes, you know, back to Alan’s point, it’s—you know, you don’t wanna get slowed down by what IT’s doing and as vendors, if we do our job correctly, we give them that safe space to be able to do that, right? Trust but verify.
Brian ven den Blink: I think it’s important to—I think, indeed, what it opens, and I agree there is, it allows you to prototype things from a business perspective, but I think what’s important then in the next space is that that prototype is not to go in our production environment, basically. So, you know, you have to make sure that sometimes what we say is that, if you look at old spaghetti code, with low code, it’s easy to make, like, fast-cooking spaghetti, basically. Because, you know, you can make your mistakes faster because it allows you to create things faster, as well.
So, I think, indeed, you start with a prototype, you verify the basic concept, and then at some point, if you really wanna structurally have a core application out of it, it has to go through architecture principles and things like that. But I think that’s what Derya also means, maybe, with the plan is that, once it goes to that, after that first phase, it really goes into that planning phase and how are we gonna structurally broaden this application, for example?
Derya Sousa: Absolutely. Just to add there, so, the applications we build, we deliver, or our customers are delivering are core applications, core business applications, and I don’t see them working well in terms of security and governance if they are just let and there’s no plan or there’s no cooperation with IT teams.
So, from my experience, I’ve seen this and there are, really critical solutions are being built with low code/no code systems, and they are connecting to critical data as well, and especially with security in mind, that we all have to have nowadays. I don’t see this getting to the highest potential without IT being involved.
Andrew Manby: Yeah, I will agree about that, but I would argue, continue to argue that there are a lot of things that need to be put in production in a safe space that have been curated by IT that we just allow the business to run with, right? That’s just the nature of the beast, right?
Alan Shimel: Absolutely
Andrew Manby: And to be honest, I don’t know why you would want to change that.
Alan Shimel: Well, this is a great conversation, but we’re out of time, we’re over time. But, you know, obviously, if you couldn’t tell at home listening to this, there’s a lot more we could—we could’ve spent all day talking and still not cover it all. Maybe we’ll have to re-run it and bring it back for another low code/no code episode, soon.
But we’re gonna need to wrap up this episode of DevOps Unbound. Brian, Andrew, Derya—thank you so much for joining in and contributing to this panel, it was great. Mitchell, as always—good job, man, you know? You’re doing this—
Mitch Ashley: Enjoyed listening to the panel as well as participating. It’s a great group.
Alan Shimel: Absolutely. Many thanks to Tricentis for sponsoring DevOps Unbound. We’ll be back in two weeks with a fresh topic related to DevOps. Hope to see you there and have you join us, but for now, this is Alan Shimel for DevOps Unbound. Have a great day, everyone.
Filed Under: DevOps Unbound, Enterprise DevOps, Low-Code/No-Code
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