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What does vendor lock-in mean in LowCode?

A vendor lock-in, also known as proprietary lock-in or customer lock-in, makes a customer dependent on one vendor for products and services, and unable to use another vendor without significant switching costs.

What does that mean in the LowCode arena?

While most prominent LowCode vendors claim their product comes without vendor lock-in, we find those claims not to be entirely true. We only found one platform, WaveMaker, that holds true to that promise. Let's have a closer look.

A LowCode development platform (LCDP) provides a development environment that can be used to create application software through graphical user interfaces and configuration, rather than through traditional text-based coding. This means your software will not work without you paying for licences. Many customers don't want that, so a number of LowCode vendors allow you to use the code even without the platform. But how easy is it? With some vendors, you can keep the platform, but you can no longer develop on it. With others, you can have the code, but then you have to get it to work again on a suitable server. That sounds nice, but in practice it is almost impossible to do. But what do you do now? You have built an application, let's say an app for procurement management, and hardly anything has changed, but once in a while an integration needs to be adjusted, or something is wrong with the data, so your management team needs to intervene.

The choice is yours: pay the 500K per year, although you barely use the LowCode platform, or incur enormous costs to roll out your code again (if that is even possible). You have just fallen victim to legacy LowCode with a pinch of vendor locking.

Which platforms render you most vulnerable to vendor lock-in? We would say both OutSystems and Mendix have a strong vendor lock-in mechanism in place, where the only cheap option of moving your application out of the platform is by re-building it. Are there platforms without vendor lock-in, such as Betty Blocks and Power Apps? At least in OutSystems they do offer a way to move your application to a Microsoft stack, whereas most other platform are unable to do so. This really only leave WaveMaker as the only platform without any form of vendor lock-in, where open source and open standards are part of their platform strategy.

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