Low-Code Development Takes the Main Stage at Cloud Foundry Summit


on June 29, 2017

Mendix was invited to host a keynote panel at the recent Cloud Foundry Summit in Santa Clara, CA. Our customers Georgetown University, Solomon Group, and MIT took the stage along with Mendix CTO Johan den Haan and veteran IT journalist Mike Vizard for a spirited discussion about low-code development and how it enables them to take applications from ideas to production faster and easier than traditional development approaches.

Attending Cloud Foundry Summit for the first time, I was curious to see how the more technical, developer-oriented audience would react to low-code platforms. I must say I was pleasantly surprised! The people who stopped by the Mendix booth were genuinely interested in what low-code is, how it could help their organization, how it relates to the Cloud Foundry investments they’ve made. There was a clear recognition of the need to increase app development velocity to keep pace with growing business demands.

Here is the video of the keynote panel. If you don’t have 45 minutes to watch the full session, I’ve pulled some highlights below.

  • Defining low-code development – To define low-code, den Haan drew a parallel with Cloud Foundry. The main advantages of Cloud Foundry, he said, are that it applies abstraction and automation to deployment and operations. Low-code applies abstraction and automation to the development and evolution of apps. By abstracting away from programming through the use visual models, low-code not only speeds up the development process but enables a continuum of developers.

The main advantages of Cloud Foundry are that it applies abstraction and automation to deployment and operations.” – Johan den Haan, CTO, Mendix

  • Why organizations adopt lowcode – Beth Ann Bergsmark, Assistant Vice President for Academic Systems and Chief Enterprise Architect at Georgetown University, shared how they were facing challenges within their research and regulatory domain, in terms of legacy apps not scaling or meeting the unique needs of individual campuses. The value they saw in low-code was speed, reuse and repeatability, and support for their cloud-first principle. They built one app combining common functionality and unique capabilities for each campus, improving the overall user experience.

The value in low-code is speed, reuse and repeatability, and support for a cloud-first principle.” – Beth Ann Bergsmark, Georgetown University

  • How low-code changes the notion of a developer – Olu Brown, Director of Platform Engagement at MIT, shared how their Mendix team isn’t composed of traditional developers, but rather QA engineers, technical project managers, and business analysts. The key, he said, is their ability to understand analytical and logical structure. Jonathan Foucheaux, Partner and Co-Founder at Solomon Group, echoed that, highlighting how they’ve taken employees involved in the technical aspects of event production (e.g. sound, lighting, video) and let them loose on Mendix. He said, “It’s easier to find people who know the business processes and let them figure out how to build an app, than the other way around.”

It’s easier to find people who know the business processes and let them figure out how to build an app, than the other way around.” – Jonathan Foucheaux, Solomon Group

  • The connection between Mendix and Cloud Foundry – den Haan shared how Mendix is focused on supporting the entire application lifecycle, from ideation and development to deployment and operations. On the deployment piece, Mendix uses Cloud Foundry running on AWS within its own public cloud. In addition, Mendix takes advantage of the standardization of Cloud Foundry to provide customers the flexibility to run their apps on any Cloud Foundry environment. Addressing how Cloud Foundry is invisible to many customers running on Mendix Cloud, Bergsmark said, “If you want a non-stick pan, you’re not necessarily checking to see if it’s Teflon. You just want it to work. What Cloud Foundry gives Mendix is portability and the ability to dynamically scale apps to support cyclical peaks.”

If you want a non-stick pan, you’re not necessarily checking to see if it’s Teflon. You just want it to work. What Cloud Foundry gives Mendix is portability and the ability to dynamically scale apps to support cyclical peaks.” – – Beth Ann Bergsmark, Georgetown University

  • The agility of low-code – Foucheaux mentioned how on the flight to the event, he received an email from a client requesting a new field in their app. Using wifi on the plane, he made and committed the change and redeployed the app. “The client was thrilled we were able to so quickly meet their need,” he said.
  • The value of low-code – Brown shared how MIT has built 15 apps with Mendix, shrinking the development process from 1-2 years to just 3-4 months. Two examples he shared were a scheduling and management application for the university’s nanotechnology lab and another app that digitized the university’s patent application process, cutting application time in half for thousands of patents each year.

MIT has built 15 apps with Mendix, shrinking the development process from 1-2 years to just 3-4 months.” – Olu Brown, MIT

  • How low-code differs from 4GL – According to den Haan, low-code is not a new concept. There is a history of applying a higher abstraction level in an attempt to speed development, including CASE and 4GL. One of the main reasons these tools failed, he said, is that they missed a paradigm shift in the market—for instance, the shift to web or mobile. Mendix’s low-code platform is focused not on how you build yesterday’s apps faster, but how you build tomorrow’s apps faster.

To learn more about low-code development platforms and how Mendix uniquely supports Cloud Foundry, download “The Forrester Wave™: Low-Code Development Platforms, Q2 2016.”