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The Power of low code

Protocol Enterprise

Hello, and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: how Charles Lamanna, a rising star at Microsoft, thinks low-code apps will change how businesses operate; operations at DataRobot seem very out of order; and how Goldman Sach is trying to reach developers.

Microsoft’s low-code vision

Forty years ago, there were entire professions dedicated to managing spreadsheets and entering data. Then Excel came along: Suddenly, everyone could do that work on their own, and those spreadsheet managers moved on to more mathematically complicated work.

That sort of evolution is exactly what Microsoft corporate vice president Charles Lamanna envisions for coding.

  • Lamanna, who started with Microsoft in 2009 helping the company shift to Office 365, has quickly risen through the ranks to become a key low-code evangelist.
  • During a 2014 Microsoft hackathon, before low-code/no-code became a hot topic, Lamanna and a team of developers built Wolf Crow, a low-code/no-code automation and data integration product.
  • That product would later become Azure Logic Apps, and then slowly morph into Microsoft Flow, Power Apps and eventually Power Platform, a group of business software tools Lamanna now oversees along with Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 applications.

Power Platform isn’t just a nifty add-on to the existing Microsoft business software suite, but a key strategic initiative.

  • “I think there's probably no more perfect manifestation of the Microsoft mission statement of ‘empower everyone and every organization in the world to do more’ than low code,” said Lamanna.
  • By providing extensibility to customize everything from Microsoft’s CRM to its new Digital Contact Center Platform to SharePoint, Power Platform acts as a sort of foundation underlying core Microsoft products Dynamics 365 and Office 365.

Power Platform is now one of Microsoft’s fastest-growing businesses at scale. The low-code platform has more than 7 million monthly active users, $2 billion in revenue and a growth rate of more than 70% year-over-year.

  • The platform has captured so many users by catering to everyone: from citizen developers to IT professionals to professional developers.
  • To Lamanna, this is all an extension of Microsoft’s lineage: The company’s Excel software is simple enough for an average person to do basic addition but also powerful enough for an expert to perform complex derivative modeling, all on one platform.

What Excel did for data entry, Lamanna now wants Power Platform to do for coding. “I want to make it so that if you can use Windows, if you can use Excel, you can be a no-code/low-code developer. That's the dream.”

Read the full story here.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)

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WTF is up at DataRobot?

“Does anyone want to go off-grid fishing in Wyoming for 5 days?”

DataRobot’s former AI chief Ben Taylor was only half joking when he posed the question on LinkedIn as part of a heartfelt explanation for why he resigned recently (the news leaked in media reports). It’s understandable that a calm lake in the middle of nowhere would be preferable to the choppy waters swirling around DataRobot this week and in recent months.

The bad news came in steady drips this year, until the dam broke this week:

Former DataRobot head of competitor intelligence Thomas Dinsmore (now in a similar role at Domino Data Lab) gave a nod of approval to the Saha choice, calling it “no bullshit.” He remarked, “The last thing DataRobot needs right now is an empty suit who thinks PyTorch is that thing you use to finish the Crème Brûlée.”

But the turmoil this week is bound to put employees at even more unease as Saha attempts to right the DataRobot ship.

— Kate Kaye (email | twitter)

Bullish on open source

Goldman Sachs’ open-source strategy is one of the keys to its engineering transformation in the last couple of years, and courting developers is at the heart of it, according to co-CIO Marco Argenti.

“We really decided to collaborate more with the developer community at large and really also using [open source] as a way to give back to that community,” Argenti, a former AWS executive, told Protocol. Having a “brand” with developers also helps the investment bank and financial services company attract talent, he said.

Goldman Sachs has more than 300 engineers contributing to open-source projects. It launched Legend, an open-source data management and data governance platform, in October 2020 with the Fintech Open Source Foundation. Its other open-source projects include GS Quant, a Python toolkit for quantitative finance; Goldman Sachs jDMN, a decision model and notation executive engine implemented in Java; and Reladomo, an enterprise-grade, objection-relational mapping framework for Java.

“The key here is really putting developers at the center,” Argenti said. “Within our clients, it's not just the chief investment officer — there is another persona that has emerged really powerfully as a decision maker and an enabler, which is the developer. We're more and more trying to create an offering for [them] that spans open-source, spans the cloud, spans software, etc., that really upholds the same standards that we do with other clients and at the same time really codifies all that expertise that we're building on over all the decades here at Goldman.”

— Donna Goodison (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Entrust acknowledged that a ransomware attack allowed hackers to steal data from its internal systems, but it’s unclear whether or not any data belonging to customers of the security company was obtained.

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Thanks for reading — see you Monday!

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