High Productivity Platforms Don’t Have to Forfeit High Control

on February 2, 2017

In its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise aPaaS, research firm Gartner contrasts two cloud-based approaches to application development: high-productivity application platform-as-a-service (“hpaPaaS”), and its high-control counterpart, hcaPaaS. The idea is that 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. Who wouldn’t want that? The tradeoff, though, is often perceived to be a lack of control: no access to or control over application resources, limited scalability, no support for DevOps best practices such as continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD), and apps that are limited in their functionality. And with most high-productivity platforms that’s indeed true.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to have both high productivity and high control capabilities in a single application development platform. At Mendix, we have created a hpaPaaS platform that shields power users and citizen developers from unnecessary complexity while offering DevOps teams and professional developers the full transparency, openness and control that they require. Our visual modeling tools cover the full stack of Web and Mobile app development, including responsive user interfaces, domain models and business logic. And because Mendix models are directly executed, developers get instant feedback on their application’s behavior and can collaborate with both business users and more technically focused developers in real-time.

Unlike other hpaPaaS platforms, Mendix isn’t limited to creating simple forms-based apps. Mendix apps can be highly sophisticated, leveraging full mobile capabilities as well as advanced technologies such as machine learning and the Internet of Things. Visual developers have access to a wide variety of existing building blocks from Mendix and third-parties. And coders can further extend their organizations’ building blocks by creating custom extensions and packaging them as native model actions for use by visual developers. The resulting applications themselves leverage a microservices architecture, with application services that can be exposed via APIs and data that can be exposed via the OData standard.

The Mendix platform allows developers to deploy their apps to the Mendix public cloud, a wide range of cloud infrastructures—such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and IBM BlueMix—virtual private cloud computing system or on-premises infrastructure. All with a single click. Built on Cloud Foundry, our Cloud back-end isn’t just the most open and portable hpaPaaS on the market—it’s the most sophisticated. Leveraging a modern stateless server architecture, Mendix Cloud provides on-demand vertical and horizontal scalability and out-of-the-box high availability (“HA”). Power users and citizen developers don’t need to worry about any of this. They simply visually build and enhance their apps and think of the back-end as “opaque”. But the Ops team has the transparency and control over the server run-time required to operate with enterprise robustness, at Web scale.

Rapid application development is often thought of as simply speeding up the build phase: using visual tools to create data entry screens that are connected to enterprise data sources. And with many hpaPaaS platforms that’s indeed the primary, and sometimes sole, focus. Solving the productivity challenge for anything but simple disposable apps, however, requires more. You need to ensure app quality and robustness, while supporting continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD)—traits typically only associated with high-control platforms.

Our philosophy is to not only speed the build phase…but to support and optimize the entire app lifecycle.”

Here, too, Mendix has you covered. Our philosophy is to not only speed the build phase (you can of course build an app and get it up and running in 10 minutes) but to support and optimize the entire app lifecycle. The platform includes an agile project management system that’s as easily used by business users as it is project owners and IT, as well as a social portal for cross-organizational communication and visibility. Models are automatically checked for consistency during development. An integrated test suite allows you to define, automate and apply tests throughout all stages (development, smoke/sanity, system, regression, etc.).

Performance monitoring offers you a detailed view into your apps’ performance and responsiveness in the real world. And the platform is the only hpaPaaS—or hcaPaaS for that matter—to include an application quality monitor, which allows you to proactively measure the robustness and maintainability of your apps and their components. This is inarguably even more important when the range of developers includes power users and citizen developers. All this is directly integrated into the application lifecycle but can be extended or even orchestrated by third-party tools, such as Jenkins, via open platform APIs.

So, we invite you to have a look at our platform in more detail. Once you do, I think you’ll agree: it’s entirely possible to have both high productivity and high control at the same time. What could you do with such a platform?