OutSystems Charts Container Strategy

At a NextStep 2017 conference this week, OutSystems signaled it will marry its low-code application development platform with containers.

Gonçalo Borrêga, head of product for OutSystems, says the company will provide tools through which enterprise architects can model microservices and then push those microservices into a production environment complete with REST application programming interfaces (APIs). Currently available via an early access program, Outsystems pledged to make that capability generally available in 2018.

In addition, Borrêga says OutSystems also plans to use the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration engine in OutSystems to make it easier to manage containers. Support for other container orchestration engines will follow.

Borrêga says containers and microservices are proving themselves to be a better way to architect applications. In fact, he says that in the future, developers may not need to develop as many applications because it will be much easier to add functionality to existing applications by adding support for another microservice.

Over time, Borrêga says he expects containerized applications to be able to employ APIs to invoke a function running on a serverless computing framework. That approach will enable developers to dynamically invoke additional services whenever needed.

But Borrêga also notes that organizations that embrace containers still need to address issues spanning from budgeting and project planning to ease of operation. In fact, he says, given all the dependencies it’s not too hard for many IT organizations to find themselves trying to manage a “death star” of interdependent microservices. As a result, many of those organizations will need to adopt best DevOps practices to manage those microservices. OutSystems envisions enterprise architects using its platform to both define the boundaries of the those microservices and what other microservices are allowed to communicate with them, Borrêga says.

Low-code platforms such as OutSystems are gaining traction because IT organizations need to accelerate the rate at which applications are built. Containers are a natural fit because one of the benefits of employing a low-code platform is they simplify making changes to any application. Via support for containers, it should become even easier to update applications by replacing one set of container-based microservices with another.

Historically, low-code platforms have been criticized for not being able to scale. But OutSystems this week revealed that it has at least one customer running an application capable of attaining 11.250 transactions per second. Many developers, however, enjoy writing code, so they tend to shy away from platforms that automatically generate code, such as OutSystems. At the same time, however, rising application development backlogs are one of the primary reasons why organizations are embracing more efficient approaches to developing applications.

It may take a while for OutSystems to marry a low-code approach to application development to containers. But the one thing that is clear is that once an organization decides it needs to make a fundamental change to the way they build applications, they generally become more open to raft of new approaches.

Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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