PROVING THE MASSIVE SCALABILITY OF RAPID APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT PLATFORMS

By Nick Pike, VP UK and Ireland, OutSystems

As the enterprise mobility juggernaut gathers inexorable momentum, businesses are encountering the next big challenge in the development lifecycle: mobile enterprise app scalability. In the cauldron of ever-growing customer and employee demand, organisations have increased their investment in app development, but building for quantity can lead to sacrifices in quality and performance. The negative effect poor performance and quality have on user adoption and the reputation of the business thoroughly defeats the objective of launching the app in the first place!

With businesses under pressure to guarantee that the apps they release are successful and truly transformative for customers and employees, the need to ensure scalability becomes critical. Simply put: when businesses are delivering their core proposition to customers, partners, suppliers and employees through an app, can that app scale to the level required when the pressure is on?

Rapid Application Development Platforms: The Engine Powering Digital Factories

Enterprises need to be confident that the apps they have designed using the low-code platform meet the high expectations of their customers and have the scalability to cope with massive user demand.

This is the kind of challenge we thrive on at OutSystems, so we decided to put our money where our mouths are. That’s right. We set out to prove that our apps can scale to meet massive user demand and still deliver a top-notch customer experience.

We didn’t choose just any industry for our experiment, but opted for banking, a sector where any kind of downtime or failure has crippling ramifications for the institution and its customers. Managing other people’s money is a serious business, so we figured that if we could prove enterprise-grade scalability and resilience for this most risk-averse of industries, we could prove it to anyone.

The Test

A mobile banking app requires something beyond the run-of-the-mill stress test. It means millions of users with thousands of concurrent access requests, generating major strain on CPU, massive throughput, and extreme peaks. Our aim was to deliver a consistent user experience and then scale this up for massive concurrency.

In the world of mobile applications, the difference between satisfaction and frustration is a matter of milliseconds. Evidence suggests that users begin to disengage with a mobile app if its response time exceeds 1.2 seconds, so we set that as our threshold for a satisfactory response. The goal was to deliver the highest possible percentage of satisfactory responses to user requests within that time frame.

With the help of one of our clients – a large European bank – we generated a typical architecture and identified the kind of scale we needed to generate in terms of concurrent users. We based the application load on 20 million active users, mirroring that of one of the world’s largest banks. Not content with replicating standard usage, we recreated the kind of event that often brings enterprise architecture to its knees: Black Friday. This meant scaling to a peak of 11,250 concurrent requests per second.

Our test saw each user make a series of 15 simulated requests to the mobile banking app through the OutSystems-developed front-end, with eight of the requests requiring access to the bank’s core system. To ensure real world validity, the simulation incorporated “human” factors such as varying user response times. We ran the test for millions of users, experimenting with database server capacities, connections per front end and mitigating CPU strain when it arose. You can read the full report on the test here. (And it really is exciting stuff, I promise!)

The Result: Beating Black Friday

When running the test at the full throttle of 11,250 concurrent accesses per second, an outstanding 96% of responses were within the 1.2 second threshold set for a satisfactory customer experience. Our rapidly developed mobile banking app had sailed through the worst that the world could throw at it, and beaten Black Friday!

These phenomenal figures are a testament to the engineering craftsmanship that goes into designing our systems. This test conclusively proves the scalability of the OutSystems rapid application development platform and categorically earns its place as the engine in the digital factories that are transforming businesses worldwide.

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