Microsoft Charles Lamanna on low-code business apps

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: how Charles Lamanna, a rising star at Microsoft, thinks low-code apps will change the way businesses work; Operations at DataRobot appear to be very down; 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 came Excel: suddenly anyone could do this work on their own, and those spreadsheet managers moved on to more mathematically complicated work.

This kind of evolution is exactly what Microsoft Corporate Vice President Charles Lamanna introduces himself to code.

  • Lamanna, who started at Microsoft in 2009 and helped the company transition to Office 365, has quickly 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.
  • This product later became Azure Logic Apps and then slowly morphed into Microsoft Flow, Power Apps and finally Power Platform, a group of business software tools that Lamanna now oversees along with Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 applications.

Power Platform is not just a nifty add-on to the existing Microsoft business software suite, but an important strategic initiative.

  • “I think there’s probably no more perfect manifestation of Microsoft’s mission of ’empowering everyone and every company in the world to do more’ than low-code,” Lamanna said.
  • By providing extensibility to customize everything from Microsoft’s CRM to the new digital contact center platform to SharePoint, Power Platform acts as a kind of foundation underpinning the core Microsoft products Dynamics 365 and Office 365.

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

  • The platform has conquered so many users by serving everyone: from citizen developers to IT professionals to professional developers.
  • For Lamanna, this is all an extension of the Microsoft line: the company’s Excel software is simple enough for an average person to perform basic additions, but powerful enough for an expert to perform complex derivative modeling, all on one platform.

What Excel did for data entry Lamanna now wants to do the coding for Power Platform. “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 is the dream.”

Read the whole story here.

— Aisha Counts (E-mail | chirp)

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WTF is going on at DataRobot?

“Anyone want to go off the grid fishing in Wyoming for 5 days?”

Former DataRobot AI chief Ben Taylor was only half-joking when he asked the question on LinkedIn as part of a heartfelt explanation of why he recently resigned (the message leaked in media reports). It’s understandable that a calm sea in the middle of nowhere would be preferable to the choppy waters that have swirled around DataRobot this week and for the past few months.

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

Thomas Dinsmore, former Head of Competitor Intelligence at DataRobot (now in a similar capacity at Domino Data Lab), nodded in agreement with Saha’s decision, calling it “not bullshit.” He noticed: “The last thing DataRobot needs right now is an empty suit Who thinks PyTorch is the thing you end this with Creme brulee.”

But this week’s turmoil will worry staff even more as Saha tries to get the DataRobot ship back on track.

— Kate Kaye (E-mail | chirp)

Bullish on open source

Goldman Sachs’ open-source strategy is one of the keys to its tech transformation in recent years, and wooing developers is at the core, according to co-CIO Marco Argenti.

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

At Goldman Sachs, more than 300 engineers work on open source projects. It started Legend, an open source data management and data governance platform, in October 2020 with the Fintech Open Source Foundation. 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-class one-way relational mapping framework for Java.

“The key here is to really put the developers first,” Argenti said. “With our clients, it’s not just the Chief Investment Officer – there’s another personality that has emerged as a really strong decision-maker and enabler, and that’s the developer. We try more and more to make an offer for [them] that spans open source, the cloud, software, etc., that truly maintains the same standards that we use with other clients, while truly codifying all of the expertise that we’ve built upon over the decades here at Goldmann.”

– Donna Goodison (E-mail | chirp)

around the company

Entrust confirmed that it was a ransomware attack allowed hackers to steal data from its internal systems, but it is unclear whether or not data was obtained from the security company’s clients.

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Thanks for reading – see you Monday!

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