Software Quality Insights

February 28, 2012  6:35 PM

Replay Solutions announces new mobile performance tools

Melanie Luna Melanie Luna Profile: Melanie Luna

Replay Solutions recently announced that they are expanding their performance monitoring tools to the mobile market. Larry Lunetta, CEO, and Jonathan Lindo, VP of Products and Technology at Replay, explained how the two new solutions work.

ReplayMOBILE focuses on pre-production and records and monitors applications while they run in real-time. It offers the same application record and replay capability in HTML 5 and JavaScript that Replay previously offered for the C, C++ and Java platforms. Anyone can take the recordings and replay them using mobile app virtualization on another device; or they can reproduce issues as they occurred in the field or during test in a browser.

Lindo explained:

It’s a very powerful ability to transport any issue, whether performance-related, security-related, or a logic bug, from a test environment back to the developer’s desktop, where he or she has a very rich set of tools that can be applied to understanding and fixing that problem.

apmMOBILE, which is focused on production and is applied in a more lightweight manner, offers real user monitoring for enterprise help desk and customer support. It can be enabled on every mobile application, and operates in either an “always on” mode or be activated on-demand. Lindo explained, “We are able to expose a level of information that we haven’t seen to date on the market — things like performance trending, deployment metrics and AppDex monitoring.”

An important aspect of these two offerings, according to Larry Lunetta, is the following:

Another difference in this market is that there is a whole set of platforms that have developed around HTML 5 and JavaScript, such as PhoneGap, Titanium, Sybase, and we fit seamlessly into those platforms and support the HTML 5 JavaScript that’s generated. That’s a big accelerant to the number of apps, especially for the enterprise, that are being deployed on mobile devices.

For more on mobile performance, see Performance management for mobile devices: Solutions and strategies.

February 20, 2012  8:45 PM

Social media is changing the way we do business

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

There was a time when two-way communication was limited primarily to those people with whom we already had relationships. Then social media came along bringing us a whole new way to communicate. Virtual networks are giving us access to more information than we ever thought possible. We have more than access to information and documentation, though. We have access to people – experts, team members, authors, vendors and customers. This ability to connect with anyone from around the world has helped in fostering stronger communication and collaboration in teams, regardless of where team members are physically located.

SSQ has published a number of articles and expert responses focused on how social media has changed the way businesses operate. In Social media: A guide to enhancing ALM with collaborative tools, you’ll find a collection of tips, stories and expert responses describing ALM tools that take advantage of social features and how distributed teams are taking advantage of social tools.

Recently, SSQ’s Agile expert Lisa Crispin spoke at our local SQuAD (Software Quality Association of Denver) meeting about distributed teaming and challenged us all to experiment with new ideas. Listen in and hear some of her thoughts about distributed teams and social media. “It’s really transforming how we work,” says Crispin about social media, a big Twitter fan.

February 14, 2012  7:08 PM

OpTier focuses on “always-on” mobile performance strategy

Melanie Luna Melanie Luna Profile: Melanie Luna

Today OpTier is announcing the rebranding of their APM product to back a new approach to application performance that reflects the needs of today’s always-on business environment. I spoke with Linh Ho, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at OpTier about this effort.


According to Ho, the challenges inherent in mobile performance testing include identifying where issues lie along the operation delivery chain, developing and testing for five or more platforms, as well as a myriad of devices, and taking into account service provider differences.


As far as testing across the many different devices, Ho advises: 

If there is a need to prioritize, prioritize where the bulk of your customers are. Otherwise, your critical business application is your business, and if that’s not performing, you can’t ignore a particular device because there are only ten users using it. Those are ten customers.


She offered several additional tips for ensuring mobile performance, including:

  • Be cautious of third party content or components that could impact performance.
  • Test early and very often.
  • Make sure you are monitoring and measuring and reporting on performance of applications all the time.

As far as ideas for implementing an APM strategy, Ho recommends a cross-siloed solution that provides value to developers, testers, QA managers and operations team members. She also suggests that “when looking for a strategy, make sure your choice is complementary to what your organization has already invested in. A lot has already been invested in the monitoring space; add on to complement the older technologies.”


She further emphasized that monitoring must be taking place at all times, and while a lot of older technologies are not always-on, it’s important in today’s economy that businesses and solutions move to this always-on approach.


For more on performance testing, check out these related stories from SSQ:


How to conduct performance testing on mobile applications

Performance testing in the cloud

Keynote DeviceAnywhere provides customized performance monitoring to GPS vendor TomTom


February 14, 2012  7:06 PM

UC4 acquisition bolsters automated application release platform

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

With the acquisition of Austria-based Ventum Solutions, IT process automation vendor UC4 has added automated enterprise application release process software to its ONE Automation platform. The acquisition was announced today.

Application release is a key pain point for DevOps teams who are rolling out applications in enterprise, services, cloud and the many other diverse environments available today, said Clark, CMO of UC4 (Bellevue, WA), in our pre-announcement interview.

Adding Ventum’s release release planning and coordination capabilities to UC4’s deployment engine completes its central management and control capabilities. “We want to make sure organizations don’t have what they have today when rolling out applications,” Clark said, citing huge volumes of helpdesk calls that typically follow releases.

UC4’s goal with ONE Automation is to provide structure to DevOps processes. “The DevOps movement has real grass roots activity based on using open source tools,” said Clark. “But DevOps lacks an automation framework and engine and platform to make sure processes are scalable and implementable by operations in IT.”

Now integrated into ONE Automation, Ventum’s automated release management software bring features in the areas of application and component modeling, test environment scheduling, resource conflict identification and centralized approval processes.

Already integrated with UC4’s Application Release Automation, Ventum’s solution enables release managers to initiate a deployment using UC4’s automation engine from within Ventum’s UI. Tighter integration is currently being developed to provide even greater efficiencies and cost savings.

For more information on application release automation, check out these resources:
Automation from version control to deployment
Automating release management processes with continuous integration
UC4 white paper on Application Release Automation

February 14, 2012  4:14 PM

HP executive offers advice for addressing mobile app performance issues

Melanie Luna Melanie Luna Profile: Melanie Luna

“Only 12% of companies perform a thorough analysis before enabling mobile devices access to business applications,” according to a recent survey conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by HP. Yet as Gal Tunik, Senior Product Manager, HP Software, observes in a recent article, “mobile applications have revolutionized how people conduct business.” He discussed challenges and strategies for managing mobile application performance in a recent interview.


Challenges include server utilization issues, network issues and end-to-end performance testing problems, Tunik explains. HP and partnering organizations provide products that address each of these issues and integrate with each other.


Tunik offered the following pointers for deployment and mobile performance testing:

  • Using your business goals as a guide, identify the devices your targeted market is most likely using; this is important as it is not feasible to test each and every device on the market. 
  • Consider developing with the older models in mind.
  • Enhance employee productivity by doing BYOD (“bring your own device”) functional testing.
  • Test applications on each of the main operating systems, as these can affect performance differently.
  • Test in real network conditions, on real carriers, which can vary widely.

For more information on testing management, see Real-time performance monitoring for mobile apps, Mobile testing: Nine strategy tests you’ll want to perform and Improving software performance: Mobile, cloud computing demand APM.

January 30, 2012  9:26 PM

High performing teams: Agile coach offers fun team building activities

Melanie Luna Melanie Luna Profile: Melanie Luna

High performing teams are able to balance creative conflict and safe communication, according to Agile Coach Ryan Polk of Rally Software, whom the Atlanta Scrum Users Group hosted at their January 25 meetup. Polk illustrated the variations between teams with a continuum featuring “Conflict” on one end and “Harmony” on the other. At some point between “Creative Conflict” and “Fun/Play,” towards the center of this continuum, is where high-performing teams can be found.

He explained, “If you don’t have people working together, no amount of process or tools or framework will result in a high-performing Agile team.” Then he reviewed the typical Agile ceremonies, discussing how the standard practices break down when a team isn’t working together effectively.

The Agile practice that Polk highlighted most was retrospectives. He said that they may be the most important activity, though many practitioners may avoid retrospectives because team members lose interest in them. He offered several fun approaches to get started with retrospectives, including activities such a “Draw me a picture,” “Futurespectives” and “Break-up letter.” He also recommended the book Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen.

In addition, he offered some suggestions about the estimation process, which he said should not be overly time-consuming, but rather an off-the-cuff activity, and he offered examples of estimation games that can take some of the pain out of this process, such as “Planning Poker” and “High-Low Showdown.” He emphasized that these activities “feel like games, and they enable estimation in a safe environment. They are also very accurate.”

More information from this presentation is coming soon on Ryan Polk’s blog.  

Recent articles on SSQ related to Agile team work include:

Scrum vs. Kanban: Comparing new approaches in software development

Collaboration, discipline and software quality: Wisdom from Uncle Bob Martin

Agile testing quadrants: Guiding managers and teams in test strategies

January 11, 2012  3:43 PM

Application Resource Optimizer diagnostic tool enhances mobile device performance

Melanie Luna Melanie Luna Profile: Melanie Luna

Recently Keynote DeviceAnywhere™, who specializes in mobile monitoring and testing, announced its support for the Application Resource Optimizer (ARO) diagnostic tool from AT&T, which collects data and analyzes mobile application performance. Developers, those in telecommunications and enterprises seeking to upgrade applications, as well as mobile device consumers, will be happy to learn that this very timely tool is now available.


Leila Modarres, Senior Director of Marketing at Keynote DeviceAnywhere, explained how they are participating in this effort by offering access to ARO, which is pre-loaded on actual mobile devices, such as Samsung Captivate, HTC Inspire 4G, HTC Aria, Samsung Infuse 4G, LG Thrill 4G 3D and Motorola Atrix 2, enabling developers to download apps in their testing environment and test directly on the device. Developers can have on-demand, remote access to this service, which expedites app testing and benefits developers by increasing app ratings.


In a recent release, Faraz Syed, President of Keynote DeviceAnywhere said, “The creation of AT&T ARO represents a win for everybody involved from consumers, developers and the carrier. Consumers will have a better experience, developers will have better-rated apps, and AT&T will have more efficient apps running over its network.”


Many companies are already using ARO, including Pandora and Zynga. Chief executives from each of these organizations made appearances at the AT&T Developer Summit held January 8 and 9, 2012, in Las Vegas and gave testimonials on how this tool is helping them improve their app performance.


One of the greatest advantages to this unique tool is that it enables optimization of hardware performance, specifically battery life and data usage.


Leila Modarres said: 

As applications become richer and more convenient, it’s also going to mean that they are going to become more high maintenance. They are going to need a lot of memory usage; they are going to require a lot of battery. So initiatives such as this, which we intend to support, will help ensure that innovation is not limited because of a constraint on the hardware of a device.


Read about the Keynote DeviceAnywhere partnership with TomTom in our previous post: Keynote DeviceAnywhere provides customized performance monitoring to GPS vendor TomTom.

December 21, 2011  5:09 PM

Top Agile stories of 2011

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

As we end 2011, we at SSQ are taking a look at our most popular stories of the year. Melanie Webb reported on our top ALM stories  and today I’m going to fill you in on our top six Agile tips and stories.

You’ll see that four out of the six deal with questioning the popular methodology, specifically comparing it to the traditional Waterfall approach of developing software.  Some people love Agile; others hate it. Though recent surveys show Scrum as the most popular Agile framework, more and more organizations are pulling together a number of Agile techniques, creating a customized methodology that works best for their organization. Wherever you fall on the Waterfall vs. Agile debate, it would be worth your while to check out these top articles and read about the varied opinions and perspectives.

Coming in at number six in our lineup is: Waterfall vs. Agile development: A case study. Though many people claim that Agile development provides better results than using the Waterfall methodology, it’s hard to prove. In this case study, one development team worked on two similar projects, but with one project using Waterfall, and with the second project using Agile. Though the development team was new to Agile development and had a shaky start, in the end, they were convinced of the benefits.

Though Agile development worked best in that instance, Consultant Nari Kannan makes a case for a hybrid approach in our number five story: Why hybrid Waterfall/Agile process lessens distributed software development problems. In this tip, Kannan describes mixing Waterfall and Agile techniques, claiming that the hybrid approach benefits distributed teams, by combining some of the discipline found in Waterfall with the flexibility found in Agile.

Kannan is also the author of our fourth most popular Agile story, Scaling Agile software development: Challenges and solutions. In this tip, Kannan addresses some of the difficulties with executing Agile development on large projects, and again, addresses the issue of distributed teams and offshore development. He talks about ways to organize projects and improve communication when working on large-scale projects.

SSQ contributor David W. Johnson takes a very logical look at the differences between Waterfall and Agile in his tip: Waterfall or Agile? – Differences between predictive and adaptive software methodologies. Johnson describes relative strengths and weaknesses to both approaches and discusses how and when to leverage each, depending on the needs o f your business. Johnson recognizes the heated debates over the merits of predictive vs. adaptive methodologies and recommends using the best aspects of both when deciding upon a methodology.

We certainly hear a lot from those singing the praises of Agile development, but is it really all it claims to be? The Web is full of blog posts from people who hate Agile. In Agile development: What’s behind the backlash against Agile?, SSQ’s Jan Stafford takes a hard look at the dark side of Agile. What are the nay-sayers reasons for speaking out against the methodology?

Finally, our number one Agile story for 2011 is Agile requirements: A conversation with author Dean Leffingwell. In this interview, I talk to Leffingwell about his book, Agile Software Requirements – Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and the Enterprise and about some of the challenges with the requirements management process in Agile development. Leffingwell describes the differences between requirements processes in traditional and Agile environments and gives some advice on what teams should be looking for in Agile requirements tools.

December 20, 2011  6:32 PM

Application lifecycle management: Top five stories of 2011

Melanie Luna Melanie Luna Profile: Melanie Luna

As 2011 comes to a close, we are reflecting on our most popular stories of the year. One of our key topics, application lifecycle management, has drawn much interest, particularly in the areas of Agile development and choosing appropriate ALM tools. Here, we count down the top five stories on ALM this year.


You’ll find that two of the five stories focus on requirements management, which is not surprising given that SSQ surveys from 2009 and 2010 both showed requirements management as the number one challenge in ALM. In 2011, requirements management moved down to the number three spot, topped by project management and process improvement as bigger challenges. Perhaps the improvements in requirements management tools described in these tips are helping?


Automation is another area getting a lot of attention in ALM as organizations work towards an environment that gives continuous integration, and, in some cases, continuous delivery. Most of our top five touch upon this growing industry trend, highlighting tools that will facilitate automation throughout the life cycle.


Coming in at number five is How to select your ALM requirements management tool by Mike Jones. Choosing an appropriate ALM requirements management tool comes with many challenges. Fortunately, this article offers several helpful insights into how to choose a requirements tool that best suits the needs of your organization.


In August, Site Editor Yvette Francino examined ALM trends, referring to findings of industry analysts and experts. In Trends in ALM: Extending the lifecycle, increased support of Kanban, she explores how ALM is expanding to areas beyond the traditional software development lifecycle, how practitioners are diversifying tools to include Kanban and how they are also mixing Agile methodologies.


All stories involving author Michael Hüttermann were popular on SSQ this year, including the two-part interview in which he discusses his book Agile ALM. (Since both parts received high traffic, we allowed them to share slot number three in our top five list.) Site Editor Yvette Francino asks Hüttermann to talk about how automation in used in automation lifecycle management, which he discusses in Automation in Agile ALM: Interview with author Michael Hüttermann — Part 1. Then, in part two, Automation, continuous integration and continuous improvement in Agile ALM — Part 2, he answers questions about programming skills, continuous integration and automation.


In the number two slot, we have another story about ALM tools. Software consultant Nari Kannan went into detail about ALM tools in his great piece Agile ALM tools: How they differ from traditional lifecycle management tools. He explains how newer tools facilitate Agile development by offering adaptability, simpler end-user interfaces and support for distributed and outsourced teams.


And finally, our most popular ALM story of 2011 has to do with requirements management. In March, Forrester analyst Mary Gerush, author of the report, Right Tools. Write Requirements. Right On! provided some great insights into ALM trends. In Trends in ALM: Requirements management tools, she tells Yvette Francino what organizations should consider when selecting a requirements management tool.

December 16, 2011  2:25 PM

Collaboration and social media in ALM

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Our world is changing, and with new tools and technologies, collaboration is easier than ever, regardless of where we’re physically sitting. This month SSQ promises you a full line-up of content related to how businesses are using social media and other collaboration tools throughout the application lifecycle.

In ALM from a distance: Effective remote collaboration tools, consultant Brad Swanson describes tools and techniques that organizations are using to remove the obstacles from distance collaboration. Tools are available for everything from release planning to continuous deployment, allowing us to work efficiently no matter where we’re located.

Melanie Webb tells us more about what vendors are doing with social media in her piece, Social media: How savvy businesses are capitalizing on collaborative tools.

We know that collaboration tools and social media are great for communicating across the miles, but can you really gain trust without the benefit of face-to-face relationships? I think so. Check out this story of the success of crowdsource test organization uTest and read why I personally have such a high regard for this company, thanks to their use of social media.

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