Monday, October 25, 2021

Develop Low Code Applications with Fusion Teams


In 2021, each month we will be releasing a monthly blog covering one interesting topic for the low-code application development on Azure solutions. LCAD on Azure demonstrates the robust development capabilities of integrating Microsoft Power Apps and the Azure products. Today, we will introduce the fusion development approach and share customer stories that leveraged low-code and fusion teams to achieve greater business impact. More content about fusion teams are also covered in our latest Powerful Devs Conference.


What are Fusion development and Fusion Teams? 

Fusion development is about combining the worlds of the citizen developer (many times the business owner or end users without a coding background), the professional developer, and the other parties instrumental in building and using applications to further the objectives of the business. A citizen developer can express the business need quickly by building an app, and work with a professional developer to "fill in the gaps." Users can provide feedback on missing functionality and any changes required. The whole process is highly iterative, perhaps more so than many other agile processes, with the velocity of possibly several iterations a day.

Fusion Development is meant to empower both your development and business teams to create better software, faster and achieve greater impact.


Why are fusion teams important?

According to IDC’s prediction, 500 million new apps will be built in the next 5 years - more than all apps built in the last 40 years. Globally we don't have enough developers to meet the demand of all the digital solutions that are being asked of us. As a result, certain apps aren’t getting created and organizations aren’t operating as efficiently as they possibly could. Too often, professional developers are overtaxed, and they are always working with a finite team that has limited capacity and resources. At the same time, we’ve seen a surge in demand for digital solutions over the last couple of years. Fusion teams come into play naturally when a pro developer team empowering a set of people who are not pro devs to create digital solutions, bringing more capacity, flexibility, and resources into the app development journey.


Why code-first developers should start embracing fusion development? 

Historically it has always been the professional developers creating the apps and everybody to consume and use the software. But with Power Platform and low code development, we’re making it possible for everybody in the world to participate and contribute to the development of new solutions. You can have a broad base of users who used to only be focused on the consumption of software give back to create and develop, and the fusion teams is part of this transformation.

We’re seeing professional developers and coders use things like IDEs and standard development environment to build components and building blocks, which show up for citizen developers inside a highly immersive visual, connected, and integrated experience created with low-code tools. And this interplay between the low code developers and the pro developers is what fusion teams are all about.

This type of enablement and creativity is the only way we can address the app gap, it’s the only way you can go build the 500 million new apps that we need for every company in every industry around the world over the next couple of years.


Tools and environments that fusions teams pick up and adopt:

One emerging standard pattern for fusion teams is focused on APIs. On web APIs, pro developers can create functionality for the application and then expose it for other developers to be able to use, whether they’re pro developers or citizen developers (business analysists/users).

We also see pro developers building APIs with functionalities that could implement with Azure services, such as Azure functions or Azure app services. For example, when a web API is created, the developers can manage the access to that API using Azure API management to control things like access and call back. Many times, you can get the security created and managed by professional developers while empowering the non-professional developers to create solutions for their end users.


Fusion Teams Best Practices:

Rabobank is a Dutch financial organization really exiting in supporting sustainability initiatives as well as agriculture. They have professional devs and IT pros to build common APIs and being picked up and leveraged by all the low code developers across the entire bank, including business users, finance, accounting, or compliance. The citizen developers leverage the micro services that unlock powerful and compelling experiences inside of the Power Platform tools.



I wanted to highlight two approaches that Rabobank took that are really interesting:

First approach: They built app lifecycle management/ALM into their approach from day one. They not only have the common API that people can use, but they also built up a comprehensive story for how you could build the solution from pre-production, go to QA and ultimately publish to production and even how you could go support it and report tickers and issues. This full lifecycle approach to manage these applications is a great way to really unlock the potential of all the business users through the pro dev expertise and capabilities, because things like software development and ALM is not very common in business life.

Finding the right way to introduce these to end users is super critical for a broad-based very successful deployment. As the app is used more and more, it has to scale to the demand how the organization is using it, and it needs to be integrated and managed through central IT as well. Having this ALM upfront and having it done by developers who understand SDLC makes companies like Rabobank super successful with fusion teams.

Second approach – They injected security and compliance and all these checks as part of the ALM process. For industries like finance, there’re a lot of requirements on how people manage and leverage data. By embracing the standard rollout process to go from pre-production to production, developers and IT can ensure that the right security checks are in place. Fusion teams not only make it easy for pro developers and citizen developers to build out solutions but also make it easy to secure them and manage and operate the solutions.


Another great fusion teams story is from IKEA. Fusion teams allowed IKEA to capture net new business through low code solutions. IKEA used to use excel spreadsheet to mange custom kitchen plan outs, but the standardized excel spreadsheet could no longer meet the evolving business needs from customers, and it didn’t deliver consistent communication with their customers plus there was no role-based security.



The low-code solutions provided by Power Platform allowed the sales team to build a strong human-to-human connection and they used Azure to accelerate the solutions.

They used Logic Apps to create a summary of the customer meeting so the seller can send it in an email to the customer with quotes. They used Azure Functions to manage scheduling, as Azure Functions is the perfect tool to manage the jobs that need to be scheduled for business. They used Azure Blob storage to persist all data and helped them secured the data that no single person could access any customer data. And then, all credentials and access key related to security is stored in the Azure key vault. Finally, all these functionalities are exposed through APIs that are then used in the Power Apps mobile applications that really allowed their sales teams in the kitchen department to create the kitchen of dream.




With Power Platform, Azure and fusion teams, there will be no cliffs for low code development. Whenever you hit the cliff of Power Platform, there’s an Azure service for that. You could write code with Azure Functions, call an API with Azure API Management, and manage events with Azure Event Hub. There are hundreds of amazing capabilities that you can always drop from the Power Platform into Azure, and you’ll never run out of gas when you’re trying to build out business solutions with fusion teams.


How to start:


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