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OutSystems—A platform whose time has come

Zafar Anjum | Aug. 20, 2014
In this interview, Paulo Rosado, the founder and CEO of OutSystems, talks about how his innovative company was ahead of its time and how it is blazing a new trail in the platform as a service (PaaS) market

That led us to look at one of the fundamental inefficiencies of IT: the cost of software change. The cost of software change increases almost exponentially as the system progresses until a time when the system is so difficult to change that it needs to be expired and replaced with a new system. If the system is fairly used, this cycle takes about 5-7 years."

"So we looked into the problem of software change and thought what if we had a platform where we could build things that would decrease the cost by one or two orders of magnitude the cost of change. This would mean that we would build a system with our best intentions and then correct it quickly, so that the system always remained fresh and efficient, eliminating the need to sunset it. That was the fundamental idea behind OutSystems," he says.

This company was so innovative and ahead of its time that they introduced the basic functionalities of DevOps more than ten years ago. "Our idea was to partner with application service providers (ASPs), telcos at that time, to give us the infrastructure where we would deploy our platform and our customers would use that platform outside of the data centres," he says. "And hence the name OutSystems, which means build your own custom systems very very quickly outside of your data centres."

Cloud before there was cloud

Rosado's team ended up building a high productivity platform as a service on the cloud without knowing it. "The term cloud did not even exist then," he says. "We thought this thing was going to take off in 2003 and 2004. We were eleven years ahead of the market.  It was terrible. It was so ahead of its time that we almost bankrupted ourselves. We, however, managed to close some partnership deals with some ASPs, but a lot of it did not work out. Then we took the platform and started selling it almost as a private platform. That's how we entered the enterprise market and that's how we took off. Finally, we realized our full vision when we launched our public cloud offer, 350 customers later".

Rosado says that some large customers as well as SMEs are using their platform now. In Singapore, for example, NCS, an IT services provider, uses their platform. "They are doing fantastic things with it," he says enthusiastically. "They have revamped their IT system with Outsystems and they can do things now with great capability and speed."

IT's need to deliver values much faster

"The company's growth has taken off in the last 18 months," says Rosado. "The compression of cycles, now that most organisations need to deliver projects in three months or even less time, and the deluge of change requests, has created a need to find some other ways of delivering this type of system, so a lot of customers are looking for platforms like this. Sometimes it is for a subset of the organisation but sometimes it is as a strategic platform."


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