By Olivia Cahoon
Last year, Gartner introduced a new Magic Quadrant on enterprise high-productivity application platform as a service (hpaPaaS). The firm’s official definition of hpaPaaS is a platform that provides rapid application (app) development features for development, deployment, and execution in the cloud.
hpaPaaS systems focus on no- and low-code development capabilities to provide better IT-business collaboration, more time for IT to focus on complex tasks, and higher levels of innovation. Early adopters are small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited IT capabilities.
Gartner’s definition of hpaPaaS comprises of several technologies including high-productivity, application infrastructure, and application development.
High-productivity refers to the platform’s rapid application development features that allow it to significantly accelerate the speed of code development, deployment, and execution, says Mike Hughes, principal platform evangelist, OutSystems. Typically, he says Gartner refers to a low- or no-code platform when it denotes high productivity.
Platform as a service (PaaS) is an application infrastructure with cloud characteristics. “It refers not to the ability to create applications, but simply an infrastructure that enables app development in the cloud,” says Hughes.
Adding application to PaaS further classifies the offering as an application development, deployment, and execution platform, he adds. This all takes place in the cloud, versus strictly on premises or in the vendor’s hosted data center.
“Knowing how the term hpaPaaS breaks down, a solution that qualifies as hpaPaaS, is one that is typically referred to as a low-code, rapid app development platform that lets you develop code quickly and efficiently using visual deployment methods, deploy new or updated code at the push of a button, and execute that code into the live environment,” says Hughes.
hpaPaaS enables IT to work more closely with the business to rapidly deliver apps and digitize processes. “Using model-driven deployment, business users and less technical citizen developers can build—with clicks, not code—the major part of the application, requiring IT’s help only for governance and custom code,” says Anne DelSanto, executive VP/GM, Salesforce Lightning Platform. The result is faster app development, broader business empowerment, and accelerated innovation as IT and pro-code developers are free to focus on more complex projects.
“hpaPaaS solutions enable the enterprise to utilize a full range of developers from citizen developers to core IT developers, and deliver applications ranging from tactical to strategic applications for full scale deployment,” says Gordon Van Huizen, VP of platform strategy, Mendix.
According to Van Huizen, high-productivity platforms employ a visual, model-driven approach that enables a broader range of individuals, including citizen developers to build and deploy apps. “This approach is proven to reduce time to value and lower development costs while offloading overburdened IT development organizations.”
hpaPaaS was originally referred to as a niche solution but has since grown into a viable option that helps companies accelerate app delivery and business transformation.
“Organizations were looking for ways to overcome long application delivery processes, which required enormous IT resources,” says Katherine Kostereva, CEO/managing partner, bpm’online. Today’s hpaPaaS provide more than just the ability to close the IT delivery gap.
Kostereva says more advanced platforms offer other enterprise-critical capabilities, for instance, integrated artificial intelligence, iBPM tools, and out-of-the-box accelerators—templates and prebuilt component libraries. “Tthis provides enterprises with end-to-end solutions to support their transformational initiatives, create sound cloud infrastructures, while maintaining control over company processes,” she adds.
hpaPaaS presents a variety of benefits including executing digital transformation and speeding the development process,
hpaPaaS solutions offer enterprises the ability to execute digital transformation without massive disruption to the organization, says Dave Landa, CEO, Kintone. “One team can start with a needed application, then scale app by app, then team by team, and department by department with more apps and workflows as needs are identified and solutions scoped.” With hpaPaaS, the development process is expedited from months with traditional coding efforts to weeks or even days.
These solutions also have great agility and flexibility to build as needed, encouraging rapid production of viable products and steady iteration to address requirements as they are understood and evolve, says Landa. As the divide between developer and end users is removed with hpaPaaS solutions, he believes end users can directly communicate their vision into the software. “No need for old waterfall approaches, long requirements sessions, and interpretations by parties who do not interact with a given business process on a direct level.”
In general, high-productivity platforms simplify the development process by enabling configurations via menus, graphical editors, and visual models instead of hand coding, says John Carione, strategy and marketing leader, Quick Base. “This trade off when choosing a high-productivity platform is that IT cannot exercise complete control over the development environment and the look, feel, experience, and flow of applications.”
However, IT departments increasingly recognize that business teams can be trusted to solve many business-related challenges using technology, ideally by partnering with IT. Carione says that according to the Quick Base State of Business Apps 2017 report, almost half of no-code builders said that IT was fully supportive of their efforts—47 percent—17 percent even reported that business departments and IT were working better together as a direct result of building no-code apps.
As more organizations utilize hpaPaaS for their software needs, Landa says its critical companies have the tools and process to manage this new kind of transformation. “A move to democracy from dictatorship can be messy. With the excitement of such a powerful new tool, scores of new applications may start going live suddenly. The platform may become overrun with nearly duplicate solutions, apps of questionable quality and use, and perhaps unclear location, accessibility, and permissions.”
If the proper tools are not provided, clear guidelines, policies, and principles are not established, and new leaders are not identified at the outset, hpaPaaS can lead to challenges. To avoid problems, Landa says people’s representatives or citizen developer leaders, as well as IT leads, are essential to help guide the transformation. “They are essential in ensuring the successful implementation and adoption of hpaPaaS and empowering centralized collaboration between business users and developers.”
Furthermore, he says many traditional companies aren’t equipped or ready to breakdown the development barrier between IT and the business users, thus creating a huge challenge to reap the full benefits of a hpaPaaS solution.
Early adopters of hpaPaaS solutions started with SMBs with limited IT capabilities.
“Typically, it didn’t start with a citizen developer but more with an IT or development generalist,” says Mike Thompson, VP, product marketing, Kony, Inc. For example, a web developer that used simplified tooling to extend their skills to other areas such as mobile apps and mobile web. With time, he says even larger development teams started to look at hpaPaaS solutions as a way to increase productivity rather than bridging a skills gap.
According to Van Huizen, early adopters were business professionals who needed a way to build applications without tying up central IT resources. “hpaPaaS is a way for technically-savvy business developers to build applications that meet their business needs.”
Dinesh Varadharajan, VP, product management, OrangeScape, says additional early adopters include departmental users from big enterprises who want to reduce IT dependency, CIOs that need to democratize computing and relieve IT from automating departmental processes, and SMB owners/executives that want to automate their core processes without involvement from external vendors or recruiting internal IT teams.
“Without hpaPaaS, the business users rely on traditional methods of documenting requirements for their internal IT teams and iterate back and forth to automate their business processes. This becomes a major bottleneck for automating simple to medium complex applications,” offers Varadharajan.
No- or Low-Code Development Capabilities
hpaPaaS systems focus on no- and low-code development capabilities.
No- and low-code development capabilities provide the ability to increase IT delivery speed. “Everything is moving to software. Even traditional service industries require a software front end, which usually means access to location data, social media, and payment processing,” says Hughes. Smaller organizations are typically not equipped to develop these systems themselves. Additionally, he says enterprises are running into skills shortages, project backlogs, and an increasing need for better hosting resources despite often having large, experienced IT teams.
According to DelSanto, enterprises are embracing a no- or low-code approach to application development to achieve higher efficiency. She says it provides better IT-business collaboration, more time for IT to focus on complex tasks, and higher levels of innovation. “The low-code model enables non-technical developers to rapidly learn how to build apps using a high-productivity application PaaS.”
“Speed is of the essence in the world of business, and the growing need to rapidly digitize and automate processes, along with a burgeoning demand for application development, has created a crisis within countless IT organizations,” says Ying Chen, head of product marketing, platform, Pegasystems. In fact, she says low-code development became so ubiquitous that it’s now par for the course, which is illustrated in a recent Pega-commissioned survey from Frost & Sullivan, which found that 81 percent of respondents already use a visual or low-code approach.
She adds, “hpaPaaS providers are working to maximize the potential of no-code development—the real-time, continuous, and truly seamless hand-off between business and IT throughout the entire application development process.”
Here we highlight several hpaPaaS examples available today.
Released in 2016, bpm’online studio provides a unique synergy of hpaPaaS for business process management and CRM, with an extensive apps marketplace and templates to help companies accelerate their transformation cycle through four pillars; Accelerate Implementation, Accelerate Adoption, Accelerate Alignment, and Accelerate Change. According to Kostereva, it’s targeted toward mid- to large-scale enterprises and is available for $25 per user per month.
Kintone offers an hpaPaaS solution for education, healthcare, human resources, manufacturing, and retail. Its competitive edge is attributable to the Kintone teamwork-focused platform. It offers a collaborative user experience for businesses who need to quickly build and deploy custom applications with granular data management controls and detailed workflow automation. It’s available for $24 per user per month.
The Kony AppPlatform is designed for medium and large enterprises including financial services, retail, utilities, and healthcare whose business success relies on excellent customer experience, fast app creation and deployment, and integration with existing systems of record. It features a rich user experience, ease of design using tools such as Kony Visualizer, and integration with backend systems with KonyFabric. Thompson says it’s free for up to 100 users with pricing starting at $30K for Enterprise Edition.
Released in July 2017, the Mendix Platform Version 7.16 provides a web-based WYSIWYG environment to allow individuals with little to no software development experience to rapidly prototype and visually model full-stack applications without the need to code. Mendix supports the development of multi-channel apps that run on desktops, tablets, and smartphones, without multiple tools and code bases. Designed for enterprise business and professional developers, the Mendix Platform offers a free option for a small number of users. According to Van Huizen, a single application starts at $1,875 a month.
OrangeScape’s flagship product KISSFLOW was released in 2012 for citizen developers who prefer drag-and-drop creation and visual layout for designing their application flow. It includes a UI for development, extensions to pre-supplied apps, an apps marketplace, and integration with Zapier. KISSFLOW is available for $9 per user per month. It is currently used by over 10,000 customers across 121 countries.
OutSystems is designed for all target markets including financial services, healthcare, transportation and logistics, education, and insurance. Visual-based application development speeds up development time anywhere from six to ten times over traditional development methods. OutSystems features an automated, one-click deployment of OutSystems-developed applications, multichannel development that allows developers to create application run on any device or platform, and real-time management and reporting of all applications’ usage and performance. According to Hughes, customers can start developing applications right away with OutSystems free offering or they can upgrade to Enterprise or Universal versions.
The Pega Platform was recently enhanced in June 2018 as part of the launch of Pega Infinity, the company’s next-generation digital transformation suite. It is designed for enterprise clients within a variety of industries including financial services, insurance, healthcare and life sciences, communications, service providers, government, manufacturing and high technology, and energy and utilities. It features an open architecture, easy-to-use AI, agile collaboration, end-to-end automation, and governance within a unified platform. Specific components include Pega Digital Experience API, App Studio, and Developer Studio.
Released in 1999, Quick Base is a no-code application development platform used by more than 6,000 customers including Fortune 100 companies. Its focus is primarily on business users, allowing them to develop and deploy apps with ease. Quick Base has three tiers of pricing—Premier, Platform, and Enterprise—to offer comprehensive support for all types of customers. It is intended for target markets from 100 to 999 users.
The Salesforce Lightning Platform was released in 2007 for SMBs to Fortune 500 companies. It empowers business users, full-stack developers, and IT departments to collaborate and build apps with the latest innovations in declarative programming, user experience, and AI. It features pre-integrated business apps on the AppExchange and point-and-click tools that enable low-code app development.
hpaPaaS enables rapid app development within a no- or low-code visual development environment while allowing IT to work more closely with the business to rapidly deliver apps and digitize processes. It provides IT governance and compliance, greater agility and access to continuous innovation, and empowers business users.
Sep2018, Software Magazine