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.

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.

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

Microsoft Teams is the next Slack competitor; How containers is becoming hot item on serverless infrastructures and more news this October!

With the Autumn season in full force and Halloween approaching, it is time to take another look at a few interesting recent news stories from the software development and QA industry. If you want to check out last month’s news digest, simply click on the following link. Hopefully, this month’s digest gives you and your team some inspiration and insight on your own development and testing duties.

Microsoft to release a Slack Competitor

With the Agile and DevOps methodologies requiring software development teams to communicate better with each other as well as business stakeholders, clients, and network engineers, highly functional messaging apps are currently in vogue in the industry. We previously talked about the growth of ChatOps, and Slack is another popular application aimed at fostering collaboration at the enterprise.

Those watchful eyes in Redmond have been taking note of Slack’s popularity, as shown by the recent news Microsoft is planning to release their own competitor to the app. Called Microsoft Teams – it was known as Skype Teams during development – the tool is expected to be available early in November.

In addition to text messaging, users are able to share files, aggregate texts into different channels, as well as embed emojis and other graphics. Integration with Microsoft’s Cloud-based storage service, One Drive is also expected, along with a built-in calendar. In short, these are many of same features provided by Slack.

ChatOps functionality, including integration with Microsoft’s Visual Studio and other third-party development tools, will make Teams more attractive to the software development community.

Docker making the QA Process more Efficient

Docker’s emphasis on container-like structures to hold development and testing environments continues to make aspects of software development and network management more efficient. This growing trend now impacting software testing was noted this month by InfoWorld magazine. The article serves as a primer for QA team leads and development managers hoping to leverage containers to streamline the QA function at their shop.

The author notes the small size of a Docker container enhances their portability, especially when compared to virtual machines. Their simplicity in Cloud deployment makes it easy to perform load testing on a web app or API. He also discusses how Docker facilitates the testing and deployment of individual services in applications using a microservices architecture.

Anyone interested in using Docker as part of their development and QA processes needs to read the full article, as it is filled with great tips and insights on how to implement the tool in QA environments.

Containers revolutionizing the Software Development World

Containers are definitely a hot item in the software development news this month. This week, the Wall Street Journal published an article describing how container infrastructures are ushering in an era of “serverless” computing. Seen by many industry pundits as a maturing of the Cloud services market, serverless computing essentially means an application is hosted within a container at a Cloud-based provider.

“If you’re moving into the next generation of big shifts like [artificial intelligence] and machine learning, the underlying infrastructure that supports that stuff will be serverless,” said the CTO for GE, Chris Drumgoole. One major Cloud provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS), has been offering a serverless product, called Lambda, for nearly two years.

Expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future, as businesses of all sizes – and the developers building applications for them – strive for more efficiency and a stronger bottom line.

Keep visiting the Betica Blog for these and other insights from the always evolving worlds of software development and QA.