Click here to close now.


Microservices Expo Authors: Mav Turner, Dana Gardner, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Chris Witeck

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, @BigDataExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Applying Advanced Agile Methodologies

Our big challenge now is no longer the speed of code propagation. It’s how we can manage effective communication among streams

In the five years since I co-founded Bonitasoft with Miguel Valdes Faura and Rodrigue Le Gall, our organization has come a long way.

We started with seven developers. We now have 17 dedicated full time to Bonita BPM - along with a systems architect, a QA team, a documentation team, and a "human factors" engineer. We've logged 2.75 million downloads, booked 875 customers and built a community of 60,000 contributors.

How do you triple the size of your development team in less than five years and keep consistent control over your processes? Well, even for a company that's in the business of helping others improve processes, it's been a challenge, a learning experience - and a great opportunity to apply some interesting "advanced" agile methodologies.

How We Started with Agile
Our initial small team focused on development of the Bonita Execution Engine, the Bonita User Experience (web), and the Bonita Studio, with each of these groups having a specific skill set and a technical leader. From the very start we applied agile development practices - with everyone in the entire team working together in the same two-week sprint, participating in the daily scrum meetings, and so on.

With a small team, we were able to make very efficient progress all working on the same code - we got the first release of Bonita Open Solution out in six months.

But as we grew our development team and as we dealt with the inevitable errors that crept in, we found ourselves being held up. If the build chain broke, everyone's progress was affected.

With the growing team, to avoid these compilation issues, we broke up R&D into three individual teams (still focused on the Engine, the Web, and the Studio components of the Bonita BPM suite) and gave each team an independent release process for each component. This greatly helped us to isolate bug errors, but for fixes, the Studio team was always last in line - they needed a stable build from the Web team, who needed a stable build from the Engine team. It might take as long as two weeks before a bug-discovered-and-fixed on the same day by the Engine team actually propagated to the Studio team.

The Business Pressure to Change Our Development Approach
The growth of our team was only one aspect of the pressures we faced in engineering. As we moved through our Bonita Open Source version 5 product releases and began to prepare for the release of our new product, Bonita BPM version 6, we began to work more and more closely with the Product Committee. Together we started looking at ways to allow R&D to work on multiple features simultaneously, end-to-end, without pulling resources from one team to another. We wanted to reduce the time to fully develop new features of better quality, and to fix bugs. Bonitasoft's use of Value Streams at the strategic level offered a logical possibility: link R&D to corporate strategic goals for innovation and improvement.

The New R&D Organization: Agile Streams
Our development team is now organized into four streams: Innovation, Core Product, Integration, and Fast-Track. Strategically speaking, Innovation development keeps us at the leading edge of BPM suite capability, Core product development keeps us competitive in the current market, Integration remains one of our key differentiators, and Fast-Track helps ensure that users' needs are given appropriate priority.

The product committee's guidance heavily influences the priorities of the first three streams. The Fast-Track development priorities come from Support, Customer Success, Pre-Sales, and Delivery, the customer-facing groups inside Bonitasoft. In this way we continue to improve our product through both radical innovation and incremental improvements (new and improved features).

Each stream is comprised of Engine, Web, and Studio developers, plus a Product Manager and members of the documentation and Quality Assurance teams. Our systems architect and human factors engineer work across all four streams.

When a feature or improvement is developed in a stream, it is fully developed and tested on the stream's dedicated continuous integration server. A feature is "done" when the language translation is done, the documentation is done and the tests are done. When the entire code stream is stable, then and only then it is pushed to the shared continuous integration server where it can be accessed and used by the other streams.

When it is time for a major release, the code is pushed to another dedicated server where the final QA is done.

The advantages of this development approach are already being realized: the isolation of each stream and the involvement of QA inside each one means that the code is only shared when ready - and no other stream is dependent on work outside of it in order to advance.

It's also much cleaner to always have one stream dedicated to maintenance. We use a round robin approach so each stream has a turn, and only one stream is working on maintenance fixes at a time.

There's Always a Challenge
Our big challenge now is no longer the speed of code propagation. It's how we can manage effective communication among streams. Development may be appropriately isolated, but clear and timely communication on big changes is critical. We're addressing this challenge by sharing information frequently through informal presentations, and each team has a team leader whose responsibility includes sharing information across teams. Their entire mornings are pretty much dedicated to coordination tasks while their afternoons are dedicated to development tasks.

Looking Ahead
We are already seeing excellent results from our agile stream approach. Our maintenance releases are coming regularly each month, and the implementation of development roadmap is better balanced among the four strategic Value Streams. Bonita BPM has had two versions released in 2013, with two more on the way for 2014. With the Fast-track stream, we have been able to quickly respond to customers' and users' innovative suggestions and business needs - with a flexibility that underscores and confirms the very concept of agile.

More Stories By Charles Souillard

Charles Souillard co-founded Bonitasoft in 2009 with Miguel Valdes Faura and Rodrigue Le Gall. As VP of Engineering and CTO, Charles leads the Bonitasoft product development organization. He was previously head of the Bonita core development team within Bull Information Systems. He has significant experience developing mission-critical applications with BPM and SOA technologies. He serves on a number of European Community projects. He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Polytech de Grenoble.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Naturally, new and exciting technologies and trends like software defined networking, the Internet of Things and the cloud tend to get the lion’s share of attention these days, including when it comes to security. However, it’s important to never forget that at the center of it all is still the enterprise network. And as evidenced by the ever-expanding landslide of data breaches that could have been prevented or at least their impact lessened by better practicing network security basics, it’s ...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNu...
Put the word continuous in front of many things and we help define DevOps: continuous delivery, continuous testing, continuous assessment, and there is more. The next BriefingsDirect DevOps thought leadership discussion explores the concept of continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications and systems. Put the word continuous in front of many things and we help define DevOps: continuous delivery, continuous testing, continuous assessment, and there is more.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
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...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
You may have heard about the pets vs. cattle discussion – a reference to the way application servers are deployed in the cloud native world. If an application server goes down it can simply be dropped from the mix and a new server added in its place. The practice so far has mostly been applied to application deployments. Management software on the other hand is treated in a very special manner. Dedicated resources are set aside to run the management software components and several alerting syst...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
It's been a busy time for tech's ongoing infatuation with containers. Amazon just announced EC2 Container Registry to simply container management. The new Azure container service taps into Microsoft's partnership with Docker and Mesosphere. You know when there's a standard for containers on the table there's money on the table, too. Everyone is talking containers because they reduce a ton of development-related challenges and make it much easier to move across production and testing environm...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
Hiring the wrong candidate can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars, and result in lost profit and productivity during the search for a replacement. In fact, the Harvard Business Review has found that as much as 80 percent of turnover is caused by bad hiring decisions. But when your organization has implemented DevOps, the job is about more than just technical chops. It’s also about core behaviors: how they work with others, how they make decisions, and how those decisions translate t...
In today’s pharmaceutical supply chain, counterfeit activity is thriving. As pharma companies have expanded target markets and outsourced production over the last decade, the supply chain has become increasingly global, virtual, and vulnerable. Illicit activity has thrived, and patients have suffered, with hundreds of thousands dying each year from counterfeit and contaminated drugs. More than 40 countries have responded with new laws that regulate prescription medications as they travel throug...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
People want to get going with DevOps or Continuous Delivery, but need a place to start. Others are already on their way, but need some validation of their choices. A few months ago, I published the first volume of DevOps and Continuous Delivery reference architectures which has now been viewed over 50,000 times on SlideShare (it's free to registration required). Three things helped people in the deck: (1) the reference architectures, (2) links to the sources for each architectur...
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...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
One of the most important tenets of digital transformation is that it’s customer-driven. In fact, the only reason technology is involved at all is because today’s customers demand technology-based interactions with the companies they do business with. It’s no surprise, therefore, that we at Intellyx agree with Patrick Maes, CTO, ANZ Bank, when he said, “the fundamental element in digital transformation is extreme customer centricity.” So true – but note the insightful twist that Maes adde...
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
Using any programming framework to the fullest extent possible first requires an understanding of advanced software architecture concepts. While writing a little client-side JavaScript does not necessarily require as much consideration when designing a scalable software architecture, the evolution of tools like Node.js means that you could be facing large code bases that must be easy to maintain.
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...