News from the Worlds of Software Development and QA – November 2016

Welcome to this month’s look at a few interesting news stories from the worlds of Software Development and Quality Assurance. Last month, we covered Microsoft Teams – Redmond’s attempt to enter the enterprise social communication space dominated by Slack. November’s collection of news stories hopefully offers a few insights to apply to your daily work routine.

Without further adieu, here is the news!

Enterprises still struggling with Agile Software Development

An article in ZDNet from mid November takes a look at how enterprises are still finding it difficult to implement Agile as their software development methodology. The story is based off of a recent podcast between Santiago Comella-Dorda, Roberta Fusaro, and Gerard Speksnijder, all from the management consulting firm, McKinsey.

A main cause of problems is the large number of legacy systems in production at most enterprises. This makes it harder for their software project teams to be as nimble as required by Agile. Gerard Speksnijder commented on how this core issue isn’t present at startups or smaller firms.

“(Startups) don’t have the application-architecture legacy. There are no monolith applications. Everything typically is being defined in a pretty modular fashion, with lots of microservices, APIs, which allows you to make changes to the specific component of the application architecture. You can test it and release those features quite fast and without having lots of dependencies on other parts of your application landscape,” said Speksnijder.

The McKinsey analysts feel starting small, and using a product-based model, helps larger companies successfully implement Agile. They recently published a four-point program aimed at bringing Agile to the Enterprise. It is worth a perusal if your larger firm hopes to take advantage of this modern software development methodology.

DevOps is the Key for Success with Agile

Agile is definitely all over the IT news this month. CIO magazine published a piece describing the successful Agile implementation at Fannie Mae. A major factor in their success was an organizational structure based on DevOps.

A commitment to automation and a Continuous Deployment model for software delivery also played an important role. Using a racing metaphor, Fannie Mae CIO Frederic Veron described how DevOps helped his team achieve new benchmarks by doubling its software output over the last 18 months.

“If you do agile without DevOps, it’s like you’re trying to race with a tractor instead of a car. You can go and do the laps but it’s not going to go very fast, you’re probably going to consume a lot of fuel and it won’t be a lot of fun,” commented Veron. A software enhancement that used to take nine months is now fully implemented in 10 weeks using the Agile methodology, automated tools, and a DevOps organizational structure.

Needless to say, large and medium-sized companies need to consider switching to a DevOps structure at the same time they embrace Agile.

Well, this month’s post featured two valuable news stories from the trenches of the corporate software development world, as they try to leverage Agile for the purpose of faster software delivery. Starting with a small pilot program or completely restructuring your organization to a DevOps model raises your chances of success.

Stay tuned to upcoming editions of the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the evolving world of software development. Thanks for reading.

A Look at the Modern Agile Movement

With over 15 years of usage in the software development industry, the Agile methodology continues to mature as its adoption rate grows. We’ve talked about fairly recent innovations, like DevOps, Scaled Retrospectives, and Tribes, as companies transform Agile techniques to make their technology operations run more efficiently.

This time out, our eyes turn towards Modern Agile, an evolution of the original Manifesto, focusing on a simpler process with the hope development teams are able to accomplish more in less time. Maybe implementing some of its principles makes sense at your shop? Let’s check it out.

What is “Modern Agile?”

Modern Agile positions itself as a simpler alternative to the classic Agile methodology. The creators of this movement feel traditional Agile is “drowning in a bloated tangle of enterprise tools, scaling frameworks and questionable certificates that yield more bureaucracy than results.” As such, Modern Agile doesn’t define roles, practices, or related responsibilities, with the hope that simplification returns Agile to the roots that made it popular in the first place.

The Four Guiding Principles of the Modern Agile Movement

Modern Agile’s only true definition comes from its four guiding principles. They are Make People Awesome; Make Safety a Prerequisite; Experiment & Learn Rapidly, and Deliver Value Continuously. Let’s take a closer look at each of these principles.

“Make People Awesome” relates to designing and building software applications with the express purpose of empowering the users of those applications. The development company is also expected to transform its operations based on this principle. Amazon followed a similar concept with their “Customer Obsession” mission when they first started in 1997.

“Make Safety a Prerequisite” raises the issues of quality and safety to a “foundational ingredient for success,” according to the Modern Agile creators. Fear of failure tends to stifle the efficiency of software development teams. Under this principle, attaching blame is never a focus; everyone works together to solve problems. This “safe” environment leads to an overall higher quality level in software delivery.

“Experiment and Learn Rapidly” turns the removal of the fear of failure into a system where experimentation and learning are championed. This is especially vital considering the rapid rate of change in the software industry, with new innovations happening on a monthly basis. Speed is of the essence with experimentation. If an experiment doesn’t work, the developer simply moves on to another idea.

“Deliver Value Continuously” is a key principle for Modern Agile, and is highly relevant for companies with a Continuous Delivery program. The focus is getting value into the client’s hands as quickly as possible. All three other principles of Modern Agile combine to make this final principle possible.

Modern Agile is a relatively new concept and opinions on it are mixed. Some feel it is simply a vague “vapor methodology.” Others feel the concepts are a breath of fresh air, giving a necessary reset to the increasingly bloated Agile movement. Implementing some of the principles as part of a traditional Agile or DevOps program makes perfect sense, especially for companies already doing Continuous Delivery.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the software development world. As always, thanks for reading!

Monitor API Usage with Runscope

Any company involved in the development of APIs, or even those simply building web or mobile applications dependent on them, benefits from being able to analyze API performance before deployment to production. A tool combining this performance testing functionality with testing and monitoring capabilities offers a full range of features wanted by most software teams. Runscope is just this kind of application.

What follows is an overview of Runscope to help you determine whether it makes sense to add it to your organization’s API testing toolbox. It may just ensure your applications and APIs perform as expected in production.

A Closer Look at Runscope

Runscope is a relatively new product and company. Formed by two software engineers, John Sheehan and Frank Stratton, the initial version of the application became available in the first half of 2013. The primary goal of their API analysis tool involves trusting an API running on a remote server just like it was running on a developer’s local machine.

Runscope Monitoring Features and Functionality

Uptime monitoring of an API – in real-time – is a major selling-point for Runscope. The product promises the engineers responsible for tracking an application in a production environment will know if an API breaks before the client or customer. It integrates with a wide variety of popular notification and messaging apps, including Slack, PagerDuty, email, as well as offering support for webhooks.

An on-premises agent (supporting Linux, OS X, and Windows) allows for the seamless monitoring of private APIs. This is in addition to Runscope’s standard Cloud-based SaaS (located in 12 global data centers) used for public API analysis. The tool includes threshold-based notifications to lower the instance of false positives. 

Real-time performance data helps analyze an API’s response times as well as the ratio of successful calls to failures. Engineers are able to quickly detect any issues requiring closer analysis and debugging. Runscope’s data can be imported into third-party analytical tools, like Keen IO, Datadog, and New Relic Insights.

Additional API Testing Capabilities

Runscope sports other functionality aimed at the testing of APIs. You are able to verify data in the JSON and XML formats, as well as validate HTTP headers and response status codes. Advanced validations are also possible in code using JavaScript and the Chai Assertion Library.

Users are able to create dynamic test scripts for vetting API workflows, without any coding effort. Test plan creation in the Swagger format, among others, offers a more structured level of API QA. Runscope also integrates with Jenkins and other similar tools for organizations leveraging a Continuous Integration release cycle.

Interested customers can test drive Runscope on a free trial basis. Their premium service is structured across three tiers based on the number of API requests and users, with monthly prices ranging from $79 to $599; the higher two levels also include priority support and live chat. There is also a Premier level with additional custom features and extra traffic handling.

In short, Runscope’s full range of API monitoring and testing features, along with its compatibility with industry standard messaging and analytical tools, makes the tool worth checking out at any shop specializing in API development.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches and analysis from the software development and QA world. Thanks for reading, as always.