Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Karyn Jeffery, Anders Wallgren, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

Agility Is Not a Methodology

There is a reason why absolutists always fail in technology

Lori and I were discussing the entire topic of agility the other day, she looking at it from the SDN prospective, and I from the evolutionary perspective for development. While I know there has been a metric ton of writing about the topic, since I’ve used agile development, and find it to be useful, but didn’t become a fanatic on my first agile project, I thought some perspective might be in order.

There is a reason why absolutists always fail in technology. Not just because high-tech is always changing – which makes absolutism fleeting at best  - but because the part that determines whether computer scientists get to be absolutists on topics as varied as “object purism”, “No [fill in mobile device since first Palm] on my network”, or “We’re an X shop” is not at all scientific. Nor is making absolute statements, unless you’re discussing a proven fact.

Money and by extension people’s productivity determine what kind of shop you are, what you use or don’t use, what standards are set in stone and what are not. And sometimes the market. I used to work with a network manager that told me “We’re a Nortel shop, we’ll never use anything else.” Uhhmmm… Wonder how that’s working out for him.

And over the last several years, agile/lean development has that air of “My OS is better than yours!” to it. In these back-and-forth discussions, I have tried to maintain perspective, no matter what topic is polarizing my fellow geeks this year. What you like is irrelevant. Use the right tool for the job. Sometimes, that’s not your favorite, because frankly, there are no silver bullets.

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe the evolution of agile is what finally broke the “Mythical Man Month” mentality that had ruled over and held back IT as badly as Hume has decimated philosophy with regards to actual science. I hate that they let Hume hold them up while science continues to forge new ground and face issues that philosophers could help with, and I hated that IT shops believed there was no faster way to get code out the door once the team was bigger than one person.

Agile improved developer productivity through a variety of methods, but I feel the biggest was focusing on one thing at a time and reducing non-coding activities. All in all it is a great improvement.

But our field of endeavor tends toward zealotry, and the agile pundits out there sound alarmingly like the cloud pundits or any of the other absolutists we’ve burned through in the past 20 years or so “all other things are obsolete, we have our flavor of agile now!”. I’ll agree that agile methods are right for a huge percentage of IT projects, I just won’t agree they are for all IT projects.

The thing is, there are cases – more than one might think – where agile isn’t the best solution. The larger the code base, the larger the team, the more distributed the team, the less and less it a project is suited to agile methods. Oh, like so many methodologies, you can force-fit it, but I’m talking about best solution, not possible solution. And the more documentation required, well, agile teams don’t tend to excel in that department, viewing a document as a waste when you could be writing code. And that doesn’t even touch on the array of things like “don’t generalize for re-use, you can’t predict the future” slamming into “We are building a corporate repository…”

But the thing is, like all such methodologies, it does introduce some great tools to be put to use even on projects that don’t lend themselves to its overall methodology. And some that hold it back even when the methodology is the right one. Sponsors vary in actual support from “assigned to me, whatever” to “we really need this, what can I do to help get it right?” And that is just the nature of any methodology that requires sponsors for each project. Just as drafted militaries tend to be lower quality than volunteer ones, the sponsor process includes both good and bad.

From the good bits, breaking the problem down as small as possible is a great way to achieve focus, just  beware of blinders. The future is coming, and sometimes you can reasonably predict it. Others may need to re-use some of the source – assuming the team didn’t write it so specific as to be useless, and where documentation is concerned, the team needs to focus on new developers a couple years from now, when the SMEs won’t necessarily be available, not the minimum to communicate today.

But the most agile thing that comes out of agile? Business management is now aware that development can be faster than (maximum estimate X 2, measured in the next highest unit of measure). Agile projects are sometimes late, just as any other, but they are generally tracked better by the nature of labor division, so expectations are managed better. And upper management can now drive the mentality that will make IT more responsive.

And in the end, that’s the point. If senior management says “agility is our goal”, and is willing to put the money and effort behind it, the fact that some projects are better suited to other, more overarching methodologies doesn’t matter, but saying “We need tool X and it will make us more agile, here’s how” will get budget, improving overall IT responsiveness.

Most of us don’t get to choose the methodology (or lack thereof) in use for our team/group/department, but we do get to point out when the One True Methodology mentality is a weight and not helping. Do so. Strive, as most of us do, to do what is right for the organization, not what is the tool of today.

And embrace the bits that help no matter what. Focus on small problems, don’t over-document (but don’t under-document either, there will be others behind you that need to get up to speed), and unit/functional test at that one-business-problem level.

In the end, I titled this blog “Agile is not a development methodology”, simply because it is a mindset. A mindset that starts at the top, and prioritizes getting the business what they need in the fastest manner possible while still meeting requirements. You know, what we should have been (and many of us were) doing long before agile came along.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is currently a Senior Solutions Architect at StackIQ, Inc. He is also working with Mesamundi on D20PRO, and is a member of the Stacki Open Source project. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
In the rush to compete in the digital age, a successful digital transformation is essential, but many organizations are setting themselves up for failure. There’s a common misconception that the process is just about technology, but it’s not. It’s about your business. It shouldn’t be treated as an isolated IT project; it should be driven by business needs with the committed involvement of a range of stakeholders.
Automation is a critical component of DevOps and Continuous Delivery. This morning on #c9d9 we discussed CD Automation and how you can apply Automation to accelerate release cycles, improve quality, safety and governance? What is the difference between Automation and Orchestration? Where should you begin your journey to introduce both?
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Just last week a senior Hybris consultant shared the story of a customer engagement on which he was working. This customer had problems, serious problems. We’re talking about response times far beyond the most liberal acceptable standard. They were unable to solve the issue in their eCommerce platform – specifically Hybris. Although the eCommerce project was delivered by a system integrator / implementation partner, the vendor still gets involved when things go really wrong. After all, the vendo...
While there has been much ado about interoperability, there are still no real solutions, same as last year and the year before that. The large EHR vendors who continue to dominate the market still maintain that interoperability is all but solved, still can't connect EHRs across the continuum causing frustration by providers and a disservice to patients. The ONC pays lip service to the problem, but that is about it. It is time for the healthcare industry to consider alternatives like middleware w...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
Earlier this week, we hosted a Continuous Discussion (#c9d9) on Continuous Delivery (CD) automation and orchestration, featuring expert panelists Dondee Tan, Test Architect at Alaska Air, Taco Bakker, a LEAN Six Sigma black belt focusing on CD, and our own Sam Fell and Anders Wallgren. During this episode, we discussed the differences between CD automation and orchestration, their challenges with setting up CD pipelines and some of the common chokepoints, as well as some best practices and tips...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
When I talk about driving innovation with self-organizing teams, I emphasize that such self-organization includes expecting the participants to organize their own teams, give themselves their own goals, and determine for themselves how to measure their success. In contrast, the definition of skunkworks points out that members of such teams are “usually specially selected.” Good thing he added the word usually – because specially selecting such teams throws a wrench in the entire works, limiting...
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...