Click here to close now.

Welcome!

@MicroservicesE Blog Authors: David Sprott, Liz McMillan, Baruch Sadogursky, Roger Strukhoff, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: SDN Journal, @MicroservicesE Blog, Microsoft Cloud, @ContainersExpo Blog, Agile Computing, CloudExpo® Blog, BigDataExpo® Blog

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 Founder of Ingrained Technology, LLC, specializing in Development, Devops, and Cloud Strategy. Previously, he was a Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks. As an industry veteran, MacVittie has extensive programming experience along with project management, IT management, and systems/network administration expertise.

Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was a Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing, where he conducted product research and evaluated storage and server systems, as well as development and outsourcing solutions. He has authored numerous articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. 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
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...
How can you compare one technology or tool to its competitors? Usually, there is no objective comparison available. So how do you know which is better? Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA? Java EE or Spring? C# or Java? All you can usually find is a holy war and biased comparisons on vendor sites. But luckily, sometimes, you can find a fair comparison. How does this come to be? By having it co-authored by the stakeholders. The binary repository comparison matrix is one of those rare resources. It is edite...
Container technology is sending shock waves through the world of cloud computing. Heralded as the 'next big thing,' containers provide software owners a consistent way to package their software and dependencies while infrastructure operators benefit from a standard way to deploy and run them. Containers present new challenges for tracking usage due to their dynamic nature. They can also be deployed to bare metal, virtual machines and various cloud platforms. How do software owners track the usag...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to DevOps Summit 2015 as Conference Chair. The 4th International DevOps Summit will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at ...
Enterprises are fast realizing the importance of integrating SaaS/Cloud applications, API and on-premises data and processes, to unleash hidden value. This webinar explores how managers can use a Microservice-centric approach to aggressively tackle the unexpected new integration challenges posed by proliferation of cloud, mobile, social and big data projects. Industry analyst and SOA expert Jason Bloomberg will strip away the hype from microservices, and clearly identify their advantages and d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption...
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Software development, like manufacturing, is a craft that requires the application of creative approaches to solve problems given a wide range of constraints. However, while engineering design may be craftwork, the production of most designed objects relies on a standardized and automated manufacturing process. By contrast, much of moving an application from prototype to production and, indeed, maintaining the application through its lifecycle has often remained craftwork. In his session at Dev...
Amazon, Google and Facebook are household names in part because of their mastery of Big Data. But what about organizations without billions of dollars to spend on Big Data tools - how can they extract value from their data? In his session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Ali Ghodsi, Co-Founder and Head of Engineering at Databricks, discussed how the zero management cost and scalability of the cloud is addressing the challenges and pain points that data engineers face when working with Big Data. He also s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseDB (EDB), the leading worldwide provider of enterprise-class Postgres products and database compatibility solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EDB is the largest provider of Postgres software and services that provides enterprise-class performance and scalability and the open source freedom to divert budget from more costly traditiona...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session a...
The 5th International DevOps Summit, co-located with 17th International Cloud Expo – being held November 3-5, 2015, 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...
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...
I read an insightful article this morning from Bernard Golden on DZone discussing the DevOps conundrum facing many enterprises today – is it better to build your own DevOps tools or go commercial? For Golden, the question arose from his observations at a number of DevOps Days events he has attended, where typically the audience is composed of startup professionals: “I have to say, though, that a typical feature of most presentations is a recitation of the various open source products and compo...
This is the final installment of the six-part series Microservices and PaaS. It seems like forever since I attended Adrian Cockroft's meetup focusing on microservices. It's actually only been a couple of months, but much has happened since then: countless articles, meetups, and conference sessions focusing on microservices have been delivered, many meetings and design efforts at companies moving towards a microservices-based approach have been endured, and five installments of this blog series ...
There is no question that the cloud is where businesses want to host data. Until recently hypervisor virtualization was the most widely used method in cloud computing. Recently virtual containers have been gaining in popularity, and for good reason. In the debate between virtual machines and containers, the latter have been seen as the new kid on the block – and like other emerging technology have had some initial shortcomings. However, the container space has evolved drastically since coming on...
Bill Doerrfeld at Nordic APIs has written today about how APIs are evolving the B2B landscape. This is a particularly interesting article for me, because my personal background is working for an EDI provider, where I linked EDI processes from the private network to the Internet, over 15 years ago. Vordel was founded to allow new Web Services APIs to be used for B2B. Axway, a B2B software company, acquired Vordel in 2012 to link B2B with Web APIs. This caused a domino effect, with other API Manag...
In the first four parts of this series I presented an introduction to microservices along with a handful of emerging microservices patterns, and a discussion of some of the downsides and challenges to using microservices. The most recent installment of this series looked at ten ways that PaaS facilitates microservices development and adoption. In this post I’ll cover some words of wisdom, advice intended for individuals, teams, and organizations considering a move to microservices. I've gleaned...
Python is really a language which has swept the scene in recent years in terms of popularity, elegance, and functionality. Research shows that 8 out 10 computer science departments in the U.S. now teach their introductory courses with Python, surpassing Java. Top-ranked CS departments at MIT and UC Berkeley have switched their introductory courses to Python. And the top three MOOC providers (edX, Coursera, and Udacity) all offer introductory programming courses in Python. Not to mention, Python ...