‘Low-code’ software development poses security and data integration risks, survey finds

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The growth of open-source software in the last decade has helped to revolutionize software development, enabling the rise of a phenomenon known as the “citizen application developer” who uses “low-code” platforms to build apps with minimal fuss.

“Low-code” software development involves minimizing hand-coding of applications, instead configuring existing functions from other platforms and applications quickly to speed up development. More specifically, PC Magazine defines “low code” software development as “creating applications using program generators or languages that tie pre-written functions together.”

Appian, Microsoft PowerApps, Salesforce Lightning and Zoho Creator are a few examples of low-code tools that allow developers to build apps with little or no coding. Uber Technologies Inc. is an example of a company that uses a low-code approach, piecing together Box Inc.’s storage, Google Inc.’s Maps, Braintree’s payment services, Twilio Inc.’s messaging tools and SendGrid’s email to create its popular ride-sharing app.

But although low-code approach is useful in helping enterprises meet the growing demand for new applications focused on data capture and mobile data access, a new survey finds that it also creates its own integration and security concerns. Appian Inc., which offers a low-code platform for developing business process management tools, said that almost two-thirds of the 500 information technology decision makers it surveyed believed the emerging software development approach poses problems for data integrity and security.

The major concern cited by 73 percent of respondents was that citizen developers might use the wrong customer or financial data sets for the business applications they create. By using erroneous data sources, business operations could be jeopardized, Appian said. In addition, 69 percent of respondents said they had seen data security compromised by citizen developers, while data integration issues were reported by 58 percent.

Those findings are advantageous for a company like Appian, which promotes its own low-code platform as a way of “bringing the citizen development movement under the guidance of IT to ensure security, data integrity and operational efficiencies.”

Appian’s survey also found that low-code’s growth is being driven by fears of a projected shortage of qualified application developers by 2020. As such, enterprises are hoping to fill the gap by turning to new open-source technologies like application containers to speed up software deployment, the company said.

The company’s findings jibe with those from a survey carried out earlier this month by another low-code platform provider, TrackVia Inc., which found that 29 percent of information technology executives it polled are already using the agile software development approach, with 43 percent more said to be “interested.”

Image: BenjaminNelan/Pixabay