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3 Ways PaaS Empowers You To Deploy Apps In Days, Not Months

Alena Davis, Appian
March 5, 2018

The way businesses handle technology problems is changing. Historically, long development cycles, reliance on third-party software and the high cost of making data center upgrades forced organizations into fairly rigid, iterative tech upgrade cycles. The advent of cloud computing began to change this, making apps and services easy to swap in and out as features and business demands changed. However, the rapidly changing operational expectations in both the enterprise and public sectors are pushing companies to accelerate transformation.

Typical out-of-the-box solutions aren't ever going to quite offer exactly what a specific business needs.

With organizations now more comfortable in the cloud, many are coming to realize that typical out-of-the-box solutions aren't ever going to quite offer exactly what they need. Instead, IT teams are turning to application platforms to create a solid foundation to build app ecosystems upon, allowing for more customization and integration without added costs. The global Platform as a Service market is set to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 30 percent from 2016 to 2021 as a result of emerging development demands, Zion Market Research found.

PaaS solutions offer organizations an opportunity to create and release new apps quickly, taking development projects that would normally require months of work and getting them into production in a matter of days. Here are three ways that PaaS achieves this feat:

1. Using Low-Code to Simplify, Accelerate App Creation

Typically, creating a new app or customizing an existing solution requires users to write new code to establish functionality. Low-code interfaces change development in a variety of ways by eliminating the need to write custom code for the vast majority of tasks an app may need to complete. This ease is made possible because low-code platforms:

    • Enable users to drag and drop interface elements to create clean, powerful graphical user interfaces without having to design custom dashboards or app navigation systems.

    • Allow for easy data workflow creation, as the platform itself handles integration so users need only specify the workflow and the system will have prebuilt code to handle data management issues.

    • Streamline governance practices by enforcing role management and authentication across the platform so custom parameters don't need to be set for each app.

    • Empower employees to use the visual interface to add features they need as they need them.

All of these capabilities add up to make app creation a simple process, allowing organizations to quickly create the app.

2. Simplifying Release Processes Across Devices and Operating Systems

Of course, being able to build an app quickly is becoming more common. Releasing that solution, however, is a separate matter. Successfully releasing an app requires organizations take on a variety of processes, such as:

    • Testing apps for glitches across multiple operating systems and adjusting code accordingly.

    • Redesigning (and often reprogramming) apps for native functionality on various devices.

    • Manually releasing multiple instances of the app within various data center configurations that support your user groups.

PaaS solutions eliminate these steps by hosting the apps within the platform itself.

    • The low-code packets used to develop the app are already testing within the ecosystem, eliminating the need for new assessments for each app.

    • The platform can be configured for native compatibility with different devices and operating systems, eliminating the need to customize individual apps.

    • The app is released once in the platform, which is often just a matter of setting it as live.

These capabilities add up to transform the way organizations roll out new apps. Instead of a highly complex, time-consuming process that is filled with manual tasks, most requirements are handled by the platform, and the IT team can spend more time on optimizing functionality and less on ensuring a smooth release.

3. Change Apps Easily

Imagine you have worked tirelessly to write a custom app to meet a unique business function. The IT team has put weeks of work into creating the app, you've trained users on how it works and everybody has become comfortable working with it over the course of a year or so. However, your operational demands have changed, and some of the apps features are no longer keeping up with your demands. To change anything, you'd have to go in and rewrite code, manually add in new programming, redo all the tests on the app, make updates in the IT configuration and retrain users.

Most of that overhead disappears when using an application development platform. Because you can create the app using prebuilt lines of code, you can easily build out new functionality as needs arise. Simply drop in new interface elements, establish the workflows you need and update the app. From there, the interface is going to be intuitive and user-friendly enough that minimal training will be necessary.

Agile development has established a fairly strong culture of continuous, iterative application improvement in the enterprise.

PaaS takes those ideals to another level by making it easy to change an app as needed.

Putting PaaS Into Action

When taken together, these PaaS capabilities transform how organizations plan, develop, deploy and manage apps. Instead of having to have a major business case to invest in an app, creating solutions is inexpensive enough that companies can solve even smaller problems quickly. For example, imagine you work for an organization that needs an app to let users bring together data from disparate apps to complete a key process.

In the past, companies may have looked at that single problem and realized that such a major integration was too big of a project and moved on. With PaaS, disparate systems are all integrated with the platform. As such, users can go into the platform, combine application programming interfaces, create a process flow and roll out the app in a few hours. As procedures and business demands become more complex, features can be added later. Instead of releasing large, monolithic solutions that take months to build and release, companies can quickly build straightforward apps that solve their problems right away.

Appian is among the leaders in providing PaaS solutions that drive rapid application development and deployment. Contact us or check out our Application Platform page if you'd like to learn more.