Companies failling to take Agile values to heart

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5 May 2014 | 0

The speed of application delivery has introduced a number of risks in the field of application development and delivery, but despite many organisations applying Agile development techniques to mitigate, the same methodologies have not penetrated further into business processes.

This was one of the central messages at a recent HP special interest group event on application delivery management. A range of experts and practitioners in the field described how new methodologies were being used to increase the speed of application delivery and still maintain quality and service.

Toby Marsden, BDM director, HP Software EMEA, said that delivering change quickly and continuously is risky. Speaking in the context of mobile applications and the consumerisation of IT, Marsden said that with the levels of interdependence for applications, each one adds to the risk of problems. This, combined with constant iterations and regular deliveries, means that the potential for problems is multiplied.

To combat this, Mardsen said, speed comes from automation. Speed impacts the bottom line, he argued, in terms of time to revenue from an application and also the cost of implementation.

We can no longer roll back an app before people notice a problem

“QA assurance by validation throughout the app lifecycle will address these risks,” said Marsden.

He went on to say that in the days of mobile app delivery, measures that may have been common in the past no longer apply.

“We can no longer roll back an app before people notice a problem,” he stated.

Marsden said that HP was tackling these and other issues in application delivery and lifecycle management, through an aligned, adaptable and accelerated approach, as characterised by recent changes to its ALM version 12 suite. He said that HP integrates across multiple tools, technologies and methodologies, ensuring a single version of the truth. The tools and technologies also enable rapid response to changes through analytics of the application lifecycle, providing adaptability. And acceleration is ensured through industry leading automation of test execution, service virtualisation and laboratory management, said Marsden.

Kurt Bittner, principle analyst, Forrester Research, said that there is now a continuous delivery cycle for many organisations and a race for better business performance in doing so.

Bittner outlined the spread of Agile development as a methodology to achieve this continuous, accelerated delivery cycle. In a survey carried out by the analyst house, more than half of organisations (54%) polled reported its usage. However, Bittner pointed out that while Agile development techniques are in use in IT, more than two thirds (67%) of European staff confirmed that the business is reluctant to adopt Agile culture. The majority (82%) agreed that the methodologies were resulting in software being produced faster but that bottlenecks are emerging elsewhere.

A straw poll in the room largely reflected the research, with a significant proportion, around 20% or so, confirming that they are delivering applications and updates at 3 month or less intervals.

Bittner went through some of the barriers and the enablers to delivery at ever shorter cycles, according to Forrester research.

Environment provisioning delays hold up nearly two thirds of people, while more than half said creating test data takes too long, with a similar proportion citing shared environment conflicts

For example, to deliver applications and updates at six month cycles, the most important factors were loosely couple applications (47%), followed by continuous integration (32%), test automation (32%) and deployment automation (29%)

In implementing Lean and Agile practices, Bittner said that there were certain barriers reported. Environment provisioning delays hold up nearly two thirds of people (59%), while more than half (54%) said that creating test data takes too long, with a similar proportion (53%) citing shared environment conflicts.

Bittner said that there were also cultural barriers impeding Agile adoption, such as a lack of business willingness to engage and also a lack of management participation and support.

In moving to extremely rapid delivery cycles, Bittner said that on-demand provisioning of deployment and test environments were critical. In monthly and weekly delivery cycles, these were seen as fundamental, along with careful implementation of Lean and Agile development methodologies.

 

TechCentral Reporters

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