Google binds no-code tools, API management and serverless computing into new development platform

Placing a bet on the red-hot low-code/no-code market, Google LLC today debuted its new Business Application Platform category of software encompassing application programming interface management, no-code application development, process automation and business analytics. 

Google said it aims to create more consistent ways for users to access services, data and functionality via APIs while disguising the complexity behind a no-code platform. No-code app development enables nontechnical users to build data-driven applications quickly without using a programming language. 

The platform’s introduction came during Google’s nine-week Cloud Next OnAir that wraps up this week. In a briefing with journalists, Amit Zavery (pictured), the company’s general manager of platforms, stressed that the no-code development platform, which is based on technology it picked early this year with the acquisition of AppSheet Inc., is intended to “make it easy and simple to build applications without writing any code, which is different from low-code.”

Citing Gartner Inc. estimates that there will be four times as many “citizen developers” as professional coders in large enterprises by 2023. Zavery said Google’s objective is “deliver a comprehensive, open and integrated application platform that empowers line-of-business users to create and extend applications, build and automate business workflows and connect and modernize legacy applications.”

APIs for all

The Business Application Platform will also include API management technology from Apigee Inc., which the search giant acquired four years ago. The company said it will add new features that leverage Google Cloud, hybrid and multicloud architectures, artificial intelligence and machine learning development platforms, lifecycle management, security and productivity/collaboration tools. 

With the release of API Gateway to beta testing mode, Google Cloud users get a fully managed platform for building, securing and monitoring APIs for Google Cloud workloads and serverless back-ends. The gateway lets developers secure and manage their APIs built on Google’s Compute Engine, Kubernetes Engine, App Engine and serverless back-ends without the need to write endpoint code or specify infrastructure configuration or scaling. 

Serverless computing is one of the hottest concepts in cloud infrastructure. It enables developers to build applications that run services automatically without the overhead of provisioning infrastructure. Serverless applications are said to be faster, more flexible and less expensive to run because of their as-needed use of compute resources. 

Built on the Envoy edge and service proxy, the API Gateway includes authentication, key validation and rate limiting and is available on both a consumption-based and tiered pricing basis. Zavery called the service “very high volume;  it can process millions of API calls.” Customers can also monitor consumption of APIs and build service level agreements around those metrics. 

Also available beginning this week is Apigee Data Source for AppSheet, an integration that lets AppSheet users  access Apigee APIs to extend application functionality and tap into external data sources. AppSheet already supports Google G Suite, mySQL and Salesforce.com Inc. as data sources and businesses can use the Data Source functionality to add others.

Process automation at scale

Google also announced early access to AppSheet Automation, which enables nontechnical users to automate processes at large scale. The release comes at a time when many customers are focused on automating processes to cope with limitations imposed by the pandemic. “Everyone is now trying to digitize as well as automate their business processes,” Zavery said. 

Among the workflows that can be automated with no-code tools are inventory tracking, driver dispatch, safety inspections, team approvals, project management collaboration and telehealth, Google said. 

AppSheet Automation also comes with an artificial intelligence-like automated suggestion feature that provides contextual suggestions based on natural language inputs. For example, if the software detects that the user is trying to build a sales automation workflow, it will offer to automatically complete the process based upon templates. The AI-like capability also checks for sensitive data to warn users against exposure. 

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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