New playbook delivers guidance and best practices for delivering modern cloud business applications

Microsoft continues to invest and innovate to enable partners to deliver technologies and digital transformation to our mutual customers around the world. This is most evident when migrated customers realize the gains in productivity, efficiency, agility, and innovation made possible with modern business applications and automated processes.  

Over the years, many customers used the “lift-and-shift” approach to migrating applications to the cloud, but as technology continues to evolve, they are increasingly adopting serverless approaches to application development, moving beyond cloud hosted virtual machines (VMs). This removes scalability challenges and the need to manage servers, while increasing the speed of the iterative development process. Partners with an app innovation practice are in a unique position to help connect, extend, and modernize those applications with higher levels of quality and accountability using rapid application development techniques made possible in Microsoft Azure and the Power Platform low-code application development platform.  

IDC estimates that by next year, 80% of application development will be on Platform as a Service (PaaS). And Gartner predicts that by 2024, low-code application development will be responsible for more than 65% of application development activity. The momentum is clearly increasing, and I am happy to announce the new App Innovation Practice Development playbook for partners building or extending an app development practice. It looks at opportunities and provides partner-tested guidance for developing innovative cloud apps and modernizing legacy applications. 

When partners combine native Azure services and low-code development, they are disrupting the solutions app development model. They can deliver faster business value at lower cost with significant improvements in performance, reliability, and security. Solutions built using Power Platform and Microsoft Azure services offer near-instant provisioning of resources. This lowers innovation cost and enables a faster time-to-market. The scale, performance, reliability, and global reach of the cloud enables small development teams to build custom enterprise applications. 

Cloud Application Development and Modernization Playbook survey, MDC Research, May 2020

Power Platform consists of the Power Apps low-code development environment, the Power Automate process automation component, Power BI analytics, and Power Virtual Agents for building AI-powered bots. Power Apps and Power Automate enable faster and easier app development and deployment, higher productivity, reduced time to implement, and an accessible user interface for customers.

For partners, the most noticeable early benefit of low-code application platforms may be the productivity gains. The ease with which developers of all skill levels can quickly build and iterate on these apps and automate processes allows partners to start simple and grow an app innovation practice more organically, perhaps with minimal technical talent at first, and scale from there; or assign less experienced developers to low-code applications, saving professional developers for more complex, code-first development. 

In the Forrester Total Economic Impact™ of Power Apps study, March 2020, the lower development management efforts led to 74% lower application development costs, a key reason why the Power Apps user base grew threefold last year

A recent momentum driver for Power Apps is the global increase in remote and mobile workers. Applications developed with Power Apps can be embedded as a tab in Microsoft Teams channels or conversations for building new mobile-enabled and accessible business applications that can integrate with the Azure Data Platform, AI tools, and other Azure services. In fact, there already are timely turnkey solutions like KPMG’s “Restarting America program” toolkit, a set of apps build with Power Apps for employees that need to handle wellness tasks like daily check-ins, status reports and work from home requests. Like all Power Apps-built apps, it can be embedded as a tab in Microsoft Teams channels or conversations and extended with specialized capabilities for providing IoT, AI, and mixed reality applications. 

Successful app innovation partners focus on industries that need to coordinate highly mobile workforces, provide security for remote workers, integrate with Microsoft Teams and third-party apps, and package their IP with a subscription model. Every partner practice can benefit from efficiencies and cost savings while the inherent connectivity and extensibility of a low-code development platform increases a partner’s ability to up-sell and cross-sell, continually enhancing, integrating, and updating solutions.  

Microsoft invests in resources such as the App Innovation Practice Development playbook to help partners differentiate their offerings, connect with customers, generate demand for and scale their solutions and services. Please review this playbook to learn how other partners have successfully built application development practices, and which tools they used to develop, analyze, manage, and secure a cloud business that is built to last.