Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Ruxit Blog, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie

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
This digest provides an overview of good resources that are well worth reading. We’ll be updating this page as new content becomes available, so I suggest you bookmark it. Also, expect more digests to come on different topics that make all of our IT-hearts go boom!
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yoseph Reuveni, Director of Software Engineering at Jet.com, will discuss Jet.com's journey into containerizing Microsoft-based technologies like C# and F# into Docker. He will talk about lessons learned and challenges faced, the Mono framework tryout and how they deployed everything into Azure cloud. Yoseph Reuveni is a technology leader with unique experience developing and running high throughput (over 1M tps) distributed systems with extre...
Sharding has become a popular means of achieving scalability in application architectures in which read/write data separation is not only possible, but desirable to achieve new heights of concurrency. The premise is that by splitting up read and write duties, it is possible to get better overall performance at the cost of a slight delay in consistency. That is, it takes a bit of time to replicate changes initiated by a "write" to the read-only master database. It's eventually consistent, and it'...
There's a lot of things we do to improve the performance of web and mobile applications. We use caching. We use compression. We offload security (SSL and TLS) to a proxy with greater compute capacity. We apply image optimization and minification to content. We do all that because performance is king. Failure to perform can be, for many businesses, equivalent to an outage with increased abandonment rates and angry customers taking to the Internet to express their extreme displeasure.
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...
No matter how well-built your applications are, countless issues can cause performance problems, putting the platforms they are running on under scrutiny. If you've moved to Node.js to power your applications, you may be at risk of these issues calling your choice into question. How do you identify vulnerabilities and mitigate risk to take the focus off troubleshooting the technology and back where it belongs, on innovation? There is no doubt that Node.js is one of today's leading platforms of ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
Ovum, a leading technology analyst firm, has published an in-depth report, Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a DevOps Release Management Solution, 2016–17. The report focuses on the automation aspects of DevOps, Release Management and compares solutions from the leading vendors.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...

Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?

"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.

They are not.

One is about the application. The other, the network. T...

This is a no-hype, pragmatic post about why I think you should consider architecting your next project the way SOA and/or microservices suggest. No matter if it’s a greenfield approach or if you’re in dire need of refactoring. Please note: considering still keeps open the option of not taking that approach. After reading this, you will have a better idea about whether building multiple small components instead of a single, large component makes sense for your project. This post assumes that you...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
If you are within a stones throw of the DevOps marketplace you have undoubtably noticed the growing trend in Microservices. Whether you have been staying up to date with the latest articles and blogs or you just read the definition for the first time, these 5 Microservices Resources You Need In Your Life will guide you through the ins and outs of Microservices in today’s world.
Before becoming a developer, I was in the high school band. I played several brass instruments - including French horn and cornet - as well as keyboards in the jazz stage band. A musician and a nerd, what can I say? I even dabbled in writing music for the band. Okay, mostly I wrote arrangements of pop music, so the band could keep the crowd entertained during Friday night football games. What struck me then was that, to write parts for all the instruments - brass, woodwind, percussion, even k...
Node.js and io.js are increasingly being used to run JavaScript on the server side for many types of applications, such as websites, real-time messaging and controllers for small devices with limited resources. For DevOps it is crucial to monitor the whole application stack and Node.js is rapidly becoming an important part of the stack in many organizations. Sematext has historically had a strong support for monitoring big data applications such as Elastic (aka Elasticsearch), Cassandra, Solr, S...