AWS Empowers Frontend Developers with Backend Provisioning, but Low-Code Strategy Remains Vague

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • AWS Amplify Studio provides frontend developers with greater automation and scalability/serverless access.
  • AWS lacks a broader low-code platform strategy to take on Microsoft, Google, and others.

AWS signaled the general availability of Amplify Studio in a somewhat low-key announcement at this week’s AWS Summit conference held in San Francisco. But to the hundreds of thousands of frontend developers of AWS web and mobile apps who are increasingly tasked with creating full-stack applications, the news and updates are significant.

While Amplify app development tools have been around for several years, AWS officials admit the focus of the framework has been primarily on addressing the needs of backend developers. Amplify Studio, rolled out late last year, aims to address the evolving needs of the frontend or UX designers.

This is critical because while frontend and backend developers maintain entirely different skillsets, there is increased need for end-to-end application platforms, which ensure that the intended app design is indeed delivered. This is easier said than done, however. The mobile and web application build process has become increasingly complicated in recent years. Performant and feature-rich apps (think Airbnb and Spotify) require increased manual backend API integration, problematic for developers without deep integration and cloud expertise. Steps involve rationalizing designs into components, binding the UI to backend data, and building custom logic to behave in the way that’s expected by the designer—not to mention end users.

Amplify Studio aims to put more automation capabilities into the hands of the developer in the form of hosting services, CLI, and libraries to ensure minimal coding requirements and speed the design and delivery of cloud-connected apps with scale (via serverless features).

Despite the obvious goodness stemming from the evolving Amplify platform, the low-code visual environment stops short of addressing the broader market of citizen developers. These folks represent a growing force of application modernization participants who are increasingly valuable to IT operations and DevOps teams for their role in digital transformations. AWS does not appear interested in targeting that market with this offering, deferring instead to its late-to-market, low-code initiative branded Honeycode, which in and of itself is very short on details and strategy.

This represents a problem to AWS, whose low-code rival solutions include the highly popular Microsoft Power Platform, Salesforce Flow, Google AppSheet, Appian Platform, and Mendix 9, among others. (For more, please see Low-Code Platforms Competitive Landscape Assessment,” March 29, 2022.)

Those competitors would argue that more-so than full-stack development platforms, the low-code platform space plays a prominent role in the digitization solutions set alongside AI, intelligent automation, and MLOps, ensuring accelerated software delivery for enterprises and prompting continued investment in this market. AWS needs to address its broader low-code strategy as part of its Amplify conversations and messaging.

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