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Avoiding the Low-Code API Catch-22

The latest disruption to take the application development world by storm: Low-Code platforms. Low-Code platforms accelerate and simplify the work of professional developers, empowering them to focus on building better software more quickly – software that can be as complex or sophisticated as the enterprise requires.

In spite of this potentially unlimited sophistication, however, many Low-Code application creators focus their efforts on what we might call discrete applications: applications that are for the most part self-contained, running primarily or entirely within the context of the Low-Code environment.

Building an API with CA Live API Creator

Building an API with CA Live API Creator

Such applications can meet many enterprise needs to be sure, but challenges of security, compliance, and integration remain. To address these issues, Low-Code platform vendors are rising to the occasion, implementing enterprise-class solutions to each of these areas of concern.

Nevertheless, there remains a subtle, but important Catch-22 that these vendors are all struggling with: how to address security, compliance, and integration challenges with Low-Code platforms without defeating the purpose of Low-Code altogether?

The Low-Code Catch-22

As their name would suggest, Low-Code platforms allow and even expect developers to write some code in order to implement applications with such platforms. There are several reasons for this capability: vendors realize that their platforms can’t deliver all possible functionality; developers simply like to code; and in many cases, creating some particularly arcane bit of functionality is simply easier via hand-coding.

Opening the door to hand-coding within the Low-Code environment, however, releases a Pandora’s Box of potential issues.

Take security, for example. The Low-Code platform may offer robust security controls, but a developer might still be able to write insecure code as part of the Low-Code application. The burden now falls to the platform to ensure the security of such hand-written code.

Compliance also presents a Low-Code Catch-22. Many organizations look to Low-Code to move past a complex, slow application lifecycle policy regimen, only to find that developers can hand-code within the Low-Code environment.

At that point, IT management must decide between maintaining productivity-killing rules and requirements, or allowing for the possibility of code that puts the organization out of compliance – a classic Catch-22.

Integration scenarios can also lead to a Catch-22 situation, especially for more complicated integration requirements.

The good news: today’s Low-Code platforms all generally support APIs, both creating them as part of the Low-Code application building process, as well as consuming them from third-party endpoints, including on-premises applications, databases, and SaaS apps.

The Catch-22 kicks in, however, when there is more to the integration challenge than simply connecting APIs. In such situations, the application back-end itself requires some kind of development, either to expose it with APIs, or in the more general case, to modernize it to conform to broader architectural requirements like the horizontal scalability and elasticity we expect from the cloud.

In such situations, the Low-Code platform’s focus on discrete applications falls short of the needs of the organization. It may be straightforward to build the front-end of a multi-tier application using Low-Code, but shifting the back-end, say, to a containerized microservices environment would still fall to hand-coding.

Low-Code API Creator: Filling the Gap

The answer to this Catch-22: leverage a Low-Code platform that focuses specifically on back-end application creation and the APIs that connect them to front-end efforts. CA Technologies offers such a platform with its CA Live API Creator.

As its name suggests, developers can use CA Live API Creator to create APIs – in particular, within a low-code environment that uses declarative business rules and JavaScript for extending the rules with custom event logic.

This tool provides a Low-Code interface for building the core functionality for a complete application back-end, including data integration, underlying application logic, and RESTful APIs.

CA Live API Creator offers ‘point-and-click’ creation of custom RESTful APIs that enable the integration of SQL and NoSQL databases as well as SaaS APIs from Salesforce and other popular SaaS applications.

The real power of CA Live API Creator, however, goes well beyond the creation of APIs themselves. The tool can also generate application-centric data models for standalone microservices, with data abstraction at the finest level of encapsulation, thus making security enforcement at any level a non-issue. These microservices are then ready to deploy on-premises, in the cloud, as either a Java application or inside a Docker container.

CA Live API Creator also provides declarative reactive logic as a part of its Low-Code capabilities, empowering developers to create scalable, event-driven apps with faster than they could with traditional development tooling.

The Intellyx Take

You can think of the enterprise application development challenge as having an ‘easy’ end and a ‘hard’ end – the easy end being the front, user-facing part, and the hard end being the back-end.

Over the years, Low-Code tools have focused primary on the easy front end. Building user interfaces following declarative, drag-and-drop principles is relatively straightforward, and thus many vendors have tossed their hat into the Low-Code ring, offering various GUI builders.

The modern enterprise context for application development, however, goes well beyond the front-end. True, digital efforts require a solid user experience, but customers always require bulletproof end-to-end functionality and performance – and thus the application back-end is every bit as important as the user interface.

With the exception of the CA Live API Creator, however, today’s Low-Code platforms have only scratched the surface of the difficult back-end. True, most such tools offer basic API-based integration capabilities – but CA’s offering focuses entirely on the back-end, delivering essential capabilities to any modern application while also providing the ease of use, rapid development, and manageability of today’s Low-Code platforms.

Please attend our upcoming webinar with CA Technologies: The Low-Code movement: Disruption with Power. 

Following my talk, Renu Motwani, Product Manager for CA Live API Creator, will discuss CA’s low code solution for creating APIs and microservices, followed by a brief demonstration. The webinar is September 21st at 9:30 PDT / 12:30 EDT. Click here for more information and to register.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. CA Technologies is an Intellyx client. At the time of writing, none of the other organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx clients. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper. Image credit: CA Technologies.

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More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.