News from the World of Software Development – May 2017

Welcome to this month’s collection of a few interesting software development news stories from the last few weeks. If you want to check out April’s news digest, simply click on the following link. Hopefully, the content within this May digest offers a measure of insight for your software engineering activities. Good luck!

Agile making inroads in Government Software Development

Nearing its second decade of use, Agile is finally seeing wide adoption in software development at government agencies. Doug Robinson, the executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) in the United States reported that 81 percent of state CIOs plan on increasing the usage of Agile and other iterative development methodologies at their shops. News about this Agile implementation growth appeared this week at CRN.

“We’re seeing a lot of excitement in the CIO world to be able to deliver projects on time and within budget using some type of agile methodology,” said Robinson. As government entities tend to be slow to embrace new technology methodologies, this growth in adoption is another obvious sign of the continued maturity of Agile.

Small Teams write more Secure Code

Teams with a small number of developers produce more secure applications compared to groups with more than 20 employees. That is one of the main conclusions from the recently released 2017 CRASH Report, published by CAST Software. As applications grow in size and complexity, they simply become too difficult to manage.

A chief scientist at CAST Software, Bill Curtis, commented on the survey’s findings. “Applications have gotten so big and complex that no single team can understand it all. It might have five or six languages, multiple databases, CRM systems, and you can’t understand all the interactions. That leaves teams making assumptions that in many cases are wrong,” said Curtis.

Shops wanting to write more secure code need to invest in the relevant training for their developers, while giving them the tools for performing both static and dynamic testing. Additionally, involving a third-party team in the final vetting of an application’s security offers a valuable second opinion before the code is deployed to production.

Microsoft switches to Git for Windows Code Source Control

Considering Microsoft’s investment in its own source control systems, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the tech giant is migrating all the source code for its Windows operating system to the popular open source tool, Git. News about this move appeared this week in Ars Technica.

The reasoning behind this shift lies within Microsoft’s OneCore project which is aimed at simplifying the Windows codebase. Their previous source control solution for Windows, SourceDepot, was straining to handle the massive amount of source code involved, which includes 3.5 million files.

Redmond chose Git because of developer familiarity as well as its open source nature. The basic Git application needed to be updated to seamlessly handle the Windows source code. Microsoft created a fork in the Git code for this purpose and is talking with the other industry giants who use the app – Google and Facebook – about combining their efforts in the future.

Make a visit to the Betica Blog part of your daily routine before firing up your IDE in the morning. As always, thanks for reading!

Scrum, Lean, Kanban – An Analysis of Agile Frameworks

As Agile continues to mature as a methodology – forged in the fires of real-world software development projects – a variety of Agile frameworks have emerged. Three of these – Lean, Kanban, and Scrum – are arguably the most popular framework examples in the industry. One of these “flavors” may work best for your team, depending on how it builds applications or the specific needs of a particular project.

So lets take a closer look at the top Agile frameworks to help your development organization make a decision on which one fits best. Good luck!

Is it Time to join the Scrum?

Project management pundit, Moira Alexander compared the three popular Agile frameworks for CIO Magazine. We’ll summarize her take on each of them, starting with Scrum, which is beginning to be used in other industries beyond the software development world. Scrum is highlighted by its predefined roles and processes – one example being that the project manager (or facilitator) is referred to as the Scrum Master.

Scrum’s major focus – essentially like Agile itself – is the faster delivery of high quality software. Since project teams are largely expected to be self-organizing, the Scrum Master serves more as a facilitator compared to a traditional project manager. Sprints tend to be more formal, as is the framework itself, which makes it suitable for organizations used to the Waterfall, but wanting to explore a flavor of Agile.

The timeframes of sprints are also more formally defined; lasting anywhere from two to four weeks. Time spent on daily meetings is limited to 15 minutes. Changes to requirements within a sprint are discouraged.

Go Lean for a Waste-free Process

The Lean Agile framework saw its genesis in the manufacturing industry as an attempt to minimize any wasted efforts on a project, while also offering a learning opportunity to the members of the project team. Lean strives for overall systemic improvements while preserving the integrity of the process.

In most cases, Lean demands an even more formalized process than Scrum, making it another Agile framework worthy of consideration for shops coming from more structured and organized methodologies. One exception is the lack of a specific timespan for each sprint. There is also additional flexibility regarding meetings and change requests – they happen when necessary.

Kanban offers the most Flexibility

A framework relying on visual workflows to explain and define the development process, Kanban also provides more flexibility than either Scrum or Lean. Developed in the supply chain world, many software development shops now make it part of how they write code. It focuses on completing the tasks within a project while always striving to improve the underlying processes.

Since Kanban teams are extremely self-organizing, a managerial role isn’t always necessary. There is also a high level of flexibility when it comes to project timelines, the scheduling of meetings, and change control. In short, whatever keeps the project moving forward and the process continuously improving is fair game.

This high level view of the most popular Agile frameworks offers a measure of insight on which one would work best at your shop. Be sure to consider the history and experience level of your development team in addition to your goals for the future.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights and ideas from the evolving world of software development. Thanks for reading!

Does an Informal Approach to DevOps work Best?

The DevOps approach to an IT department’s organizational structure continues to make inroads throughout the technology industry. As companies strive to reach a continuous delivery model for both new software and code enhancements, DevOps seems like a wise choice for most. Increased competition requires businesses to embrace a variety of innovations when it comes to software development.

One recent industry study questions whether an informal approach to implementing the methodology actually works better than a more sharply defined process. Here is a closer look at what their study discovered. Perhaps the survey’s findings make sense for your team’s approach to DevOps or even Agile?

A Paradoxical DevOps Survey Finding

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Digital Research Team surveyed a wide range of technology enterprises on their process maturity, a concept essentially the same as the Capability Maturity Model first developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute. John Jeremiah, a technology evangelist for HPE, wrote about the survey for TechBeacon.

The survey queried over 400 technology professionals at larger enterprises about their approach to DevOps. The ultimate goal of the study involved determining what processes led to success in implementing this new organizational structure. Finding out the maturity level of the respondents’ DevOps deployment was an important differentiator in the survey.

These four maturity levels included research/evaluation, pilot project, partial implementation, and widespread implementation. Surprisingly, the study didn’t show a correlation between the DevOps maturity level and a more efficient software delivery process. Diving deeper reveals a few answers that may help your own organization’s approach to DevOps.

Getting High Quality Code into Production Faster – with Agile

The survey noted those who took a more informal approach to DevOps – with many still in the research stage of process maturity – enjoyed faster release cycles with fewer code defects. These findings almost seem counterintuitive. Why are they able to write and test better software than those companies more experienced with DevOps?

The probable answer lies within one word: Agile. A vast majority of the survey respondents still researching and evaluating DevOps were already very experienced in Agile, especially compared to those companies higher on the process maturity level. Focusing on the strong communication and collaboration typical of an Agile shop is more important than the structures and processes found within a mature DevOps implementation.

In short, as we commented earlier in this very blog – Agile and DevOps make perfect partners. The HPE study notes that an informal approach to DevOps, focusing on a collaborative Agile culture, plays a key role in making the software development process more efficient. The study revealed those companies first exploring DevOps already used some of its typical tools and processes because of Agile. These include ChatOps, containers, automation, and more.

In fact, companies researching DevOps with the hopes of achieving continuous delivery would do well to “go Agile” before restructuring their IT organization. Reaching DevOps “maturity” by itself is no guarantee of efficient software development. As Jeremiah summarizes the study finding, “DevOps is not a destination; it’s a journey.”

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