“We’ve been doing DevOps and cloud since 2001” says Force.com PaaS rival OutSystems

By Peter Gothard
11 Mar 2014 View Comments
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While DevOps [developer operations] is only now becoming the latest buzz phrase in the mobile cloud world, there is one company that claims to have been using the software development methodology for nigh on 10 years. Indeed, OutSystems CEO Paulo Rosado today said his PaaS app development company is "nine years ahead" of rivals such as Force.com.

Founded in 2001, but having "doubled in size" in only the past two years, OutSystems is now on a crusade to expand beyond its home country Portugal, into Brazil, Japan, Singapore and the UK, among others.

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Rosado believes the company's vast experience, biding its time until a mobile-focused, 'omnichannel' world would welcome it, gives OutSystems the capability to attain "what Force cannot do".

"In the cloud, almost by definition, you have to automate the process of communication and co-operation between the development teams and the operation teams," Rosado told Computing.

"But what people don't realise - because they're very young, a lot of the guys who are now following these trends have only been doing it for two or three years - is that there's a whole new set of waves beyond that, that are coming. Which we already faced. So we continue to have this big advantage."

Rosado believes that the key to successful DevOps is closely following the increasing demands of a client company.

"When you have customers who have evolved for nine years and have massive installations that cross all areas of the business, suddenly you have a big problem on your hands," said Rosado.

"That, today, is our main differentiator. The good thing for us is that systems start small, but never stay that way. And being big creates technical debt, you need to change the system once in a while. But we are accompanying that growth, and that's one thing the portion of Force that competes with us cannot do; the high productivity toolset."

Rosado described how a medium-sized application can easily become "a nightmare to maintain", as "all the productivity goes away".

"[There comes a point when] you start acting more like a SharePoint installation," Rosado told Computing.

"After a while all the rapid iteration and continuous change disappears and you just get another lump of code, with all the problems of maintenance."

Rosado said OutSystems' experience has allowed it to "realise the patterns of simplification required by the enterprise", now allowing a complex enterprise app to be moved from QA to production in "one click", with errors amounting to "basically zero".

OutSystems began life working with applications service providers (ASPs) run by telecommunication companies, who turned into its first major clients. It was effectively, said Rosado, operating cloud and DevOps concepts before either term had been invented.

"The reason we worked with telcos was so we could do like we do today with Amazon, which is use them as an infrastructure as a service," explained Rosado. "So the first three customers were telcos, and what we did was give them a platform where their SME customers could build their applications outside data centres. Actually, the company name OutSystems comes from moving software out of their data centres. The word cloud didn't exist at the time."

Is DevOps the new crown to play for in an increasingly agile world? OutSystems certainly seems to be in the right place at the right time for pushing forward. But will the continuing unfurling of Salesforce's Salesforce 1 strategy do anything to knock such upstarts? Your comments always welcome.

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