When Agile Becomes Fragile


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A report commissioned by Rally Software, a leader in tools for Agile development, estimates that Agile methods accelerate development teams by an average of 37%. While this is impressive validation, it’s not particularly surprising to the Agilests among us. For me, it draws attention to the fact that all the Agile in the world won’t yield a single ounce of true business value until these principles are extended to the downstream phases of test, deployment and maintenance.

While iterative approaches have enabled us to make great strides in application development, the testing, deployment and maintenance phases often remain firmly rooted in the dark ages. This is when Agile becomes fragile — manual, cumbersome functions that stubbornly stand in the way of business value.

That’s the premise of a webinar series rPath is launching this week, which explores these downstream phases that could use some Agile-style reinvention.

At the end of the day, application development is about delivering business value through software innovations that positively impact revenue, cost or risk, the three key levers of business. None of this value can be realized until applications make the leap across the deployment gap that separates the world of application development and IT operations. Until applications make this leap, all the innovation in the world is little more than potential squandered and value forgone.

During rPath’s “End-to-End Agility” series, we’ll discuss how virtualization and cloud computing can play a direct role in bringing principles of agility to these downstream phases — toward the goal of bridging the gap between apps and ops.

Extending Agility to Dev and Testing

We kick off this series on Thursday, March 5th, along with Skytap, a leader in virtualized test labs in the cloud; and Israel Gat, a senior consultant with Cutter Consortium, the venerable group of academics, practitioners and consultants who envision the frontiers of software development. During this first event, we’ll take a close look at one of the major process pinch points in application development: the dev/test phase.

The reality is that the ongoing feedback loop between dev and test in iterative methods can place extraordinary demands on testing infrastructure. Traditional methods for provisioning infrastructure and installing, configuring and tuning applications have always been painfully slow and cumbersome, but this pain is magnified under the strain of Agile, where test cycles are far more frequent.

During this event, we’ll look at practical solutions that combine self-service provisioning, automated virtualized deployments, and collaborative testing for dev/test phases that can keep pace with the demands of iterative development — while extending the principles of agility further downstream.

Extending Agility to Deployment and Maintenance

The second event, which will be held in April (specific dates to be announced), will explore the process bottlenecks within the production phases, particularly as they relate to application deployment and maintenance.

For many organizations, deploying complex applications can take weeks, months or longer, in part because of the manual effort associated with configuration, tuning and certification of applications in a production context. As a result, organizations become unresponsive to lines of business, which are forced to wait on the sidelines for the apps that address their needs and drive their initiatives.

Additionally, as applications become more and more complex (think: multiple languages, use of frameworks, open source components, virtualization, etc.), IT organizations are forced to add headcount to deal with the conflicting reality that, at once, applications are harder than ever to deploy, while the pressure is on to deploy them faster.

Of course, adding headcount isn’t a reality for most IT organizations today. Automation becomes the only practical answer, which is exactly what we’ll discuss during this second part of the End-to-End Agility series.

At rPath, our mission is to close this deployment gap through an automated approach that takes time, cost and risk out of application delivery. This means faster deployment cycles for iterative dev/test. It means faster, lower cost and lower risk production deployments and maintenance cycles. But most importantly, it means faster and lower-cost realization of application value — which may be the perfect definition of Agile itself.


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