News from the World of Software Development – June 2018

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Welcome to the latest edition of our monthly news digest where we analyze a few of the most interesting recent stories from the software engineering world. If you are interested in last month’s digest, by all means click on the following link. Hopefully, the month’s version provides some food for thought to assist you and your team with your development work!

IBM making Blockchain Development easier for Software Engineers

Blockchain and similar peer-to-peer ledgers continue to make an impact within the technology industry. In fact, software engineers experienced with blockchain development remain highly in demand all over the world, something we previously noted. Unfortunately, the lack of the proper tools for these kinds of applications – let alone finding enough skilled developers – makes programming projects in the space a difficult process.

Here comes IBM to the rescue. Big Blue recently announced the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan, providing developers and businesses the means to bootstrap their efforts in this area of software engineering. News about the new IBM product appeared this week in SD Times.

IBM is a strong supporter of blockchain. In fact, the company introduced IBM Blockchain Starter Services, Blockchain Acceleration Services and Blockchain Innovation Services earlier this year. Big Blue’s VP of blockchain technology, Jerry Cuomo commented on the new platform starter plan.

“What do you get when you offer easy access to an enterprise blockchain test environment for three months? More than 2,000 developers and tens of thousands of transaction blocks, all sprinting toward production readiness,” said Cuomo.

The new platform leverages the open source Hyperledger Fabric framework built by IBM with Digital Asset. Organizations using the platform receive $500 in credit for their own blockchain network. Their developers enjoy a test environment, a suite of educational tools, code samples hosted on GitHub, in addition to network provisioning.

“And while Starter Plan was originally intended as an entry point for developers to test and deploy their first blockchain applications, users also now include larger enterprises creating full applications powered by dozens of smart contracts, eliminating many of the repetitive legacy processes that have traditionally slowed or prevented business success,” added Cuomo.

MongoDB 4.0 embraces the Cloud

One of the most popular NoSQL databases, MongoDB recently introduced its latest version, 4.0, with a host of new features aimed at Cloud deployment. We previously talked about MongoDB when we wrote about the MEAN stack, which uses the database. Coverage of version 4.0 of the database appeared this week in ZDNet.

MongoDB leverages a document model, which allows it to support key-value, graph, and text-based database structures. 4.0’s most relevant new features improve its transaction processing capabilities – notably support for ACID transactions – as well as making it easier to build Cloud-based applications. ACID support is facilitated by a new replication model using stronger consistency combined with fast failover.

The 4.0 feature supporting the Cloud is known as MongoDB Stitch. Stitch is a Cloud-based serverless environment hosted on MongoDB’s Atlas Cloud environment. Significantly, it supports stateful applications. There are currently 23,000 apps hosted on Atlas, with nearly 500 more being added each day.

Version 4.0 also includes support for mobile devices with an embedded version of MongoDB. If your team is using the MEAN stack or curious about it, take the time to learn more about this popular NoSQL database. 

Thanks for checking out the edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights on the software development world!   

Most Tech Organizations only Partially Embrace DevOps – if at all

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While DevOps transitioned from a buzzword to an essential part of operations at many technology companies, a majority of shops only partially adopt the practice if at all. This is one of the most interesting findings of a study of IT professionals published this month in BetaNews. Still many firms are seeing benefits and improved efficiency because of merging their software engineering and network operations functions.

Let’s dive into the details of this industry survey to see what organizations are doing in lieu of a full DevOps implementation. Are they still able to see achieve a better process by only going part of the way? The answers provide some food for thought for your own company’s development efforts.

Many IT Companies aren’t sold on DevOps

2nd Watch, a Cloud-based managed service operator, surveyed over 1,000 IT professionals on their organization’s use (or non-use) of DevOps. Most tellingly, nearly 80 percent of the surveyed companies still maintain separate software engineering and operations teams. Still, a number of those organizations use some of the tools commonly associated with DevOps, including CI/CD, automation, and Cloud-based infrastructure ops software.

Nearly two-thirds of the tech orgs in the survey use “infrastructure as code” approaches to improve the efficiency of their operations. Some of the biggest applications in this area are Terraform, Configuration Management, and Kubernetes. 2nd Watch noted that almost 40 percent of the surveyed companies still manage network operations manually.

2nd Watch also commented that the manual process of network management remains incompatible with a DevOps approach. However, the process of teamwork and strong interaction are essential. “In order to transform a business into a DevOps organization, companies should work towards bringing separate operating groups together as a single team,” commented Jeff Aden, 2nd Watch’s executive vice-president of marketing and business development.

A Shocking Lack of Software Quality Assurance

Another quite surprising survey finding relates to the software QA approach at these companies. Nearly 25 percent of the surveyed firms employ little to no quality assurance process. While some code testing happens, it appears to be a disorganized practice at some of these companies.

The numbers look better when it comes to the use of automation in the SDLC. 70 percent of the surveyed companies leverage an automated process for some portion of code management and deployment. On the other hand, around 20 percent of the companies use no form of application monitoring; instead they rely on end-user notification. Thankfully, the rest prefer a more modern approach.

Aden summarized how his company’s survey reveals the piecemeal approach many companies take towards DevOps adoption. “The results reveal the 80/20 rule, where slightly more than 20 percent of respondents are actually engaging in DevOps in its purest form today. There is still a tremendous opportunity for companies to modernize their organizations to accelerate development and remain competitive in the marketplace,” said Aden.

Ultimately, it’s still a positive if organizations are able to gain some benefits by the use of automated DevOps tools without merging their development and network operations. Companies need to take the approach that works best for them. Still, shops that eschew organized testing and application monitoring aren’t likely to stay in business for long.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Betica Blog. Keep coming back for additional insights on the software development world.

Adopting Agile or DevOps? Use the Cloud!

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Organizations of all sizes continue to embrace Agile and DevOps. Some firms might adopt one or the other methodology, while others combine the two in the hopes of improving their chances at success. Whatever the approach, there’s no denying that leveraging the Cloud makes adoption an easier process.

If your company is new to either Agile or DevOps, or are looking at ways to make the practice of both more efficient, here are a few insights on how the Cloud helps. Watch your team build and deploy great applications faster than ever before. Good luck!

The Cloud helps Agile and DevOps in a Myriad of Ways

An article by Leon Tranter for Extreme Uncertainty covers the different ways Cloud services make implementing Agile or DevOps a relative breeze. Maybe your organization is currently using the Cloud for a portion of its development operations? If so, you are already one step closer to a successful Agile adoption.

Of course, the Cloud facilitates the virtualized environments used for development, QA, and production. Using a virtual container application, like Docker, is essentially an industry standard in software engineering. In this case, the Cloud helps organizations achieve the velocity required for success in DevOps, eventually reaching the Holy Grails of continuous integration or delivery.

As Tranter notes, smaller businesses embracing either Agile or DevOps as part of a Lean startup approach especially benefit from the Cloud. Lower expenses combined with a faster entry to market make the Cloud a winner for many tech startups. It allows the SMB to truly take advantage of their agility.

A Cloud-based IDE?

The Cloud also facilitates the actual process of writing and storing code, especially collaboration in a distributed fashion. This fact largely contributed to Microsoft’s recent decision to purchase GitHub. In essence it gives Redmond a better chance of competing with Amazon’s industry-leading AWS Cloud service.

But what about an actual Cloud-hosted IDE – essentially an IDE as a Service (IDEaaS)? Tranter commented on the emergence of some IDEs offered using the SaaS model. This offers many advantages to startups or existing organizations hoping for the extra efficiency for a successful DevOps adoption.

The Cloud-based IDEs tend to be simpler than their fully-fledged brethren like Visual Studio or Eclipse. Organizations – no matter their size – need to weigh the functionality factor versus the cost savings gained through the Cloud option. Companies developing complex applications may still find a desktop IDE to be a better choice.

General Business Productivity Applications

On the other hand, the Cloud makes perfect sense for the office productivity applications used by any development shop. Choosing Google Docs over the Microsoft Office suite simply saves more money even with the latter option now being provided online. Examples from Application Performance Monitoring software to HR and payroll applications are now available as a SaaS offering.

The bottom line is simple. Any company – startup or enterprise – considering an investment in Agile or DevOps needs to look at leveraging the myriad of Cloud-based tools. The efficiencies and cost savings help earn a faster return on investment, not to mention an improved ability to thrive in a competitive business landscape.

Thanks for reading the Betica Blog. Stay tuned for additional insights from an evolving software development world.