Software Quality Insights


June 9, 2010  8:12 PM

Grady Booch: Cloud computing is like virtualization on steroids

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Grady Booch’s title at IBM is Chief Scientist of Software Engineering which, he says, “basically means I get to do what I feel like doing with software engineering.”  IBM acquired Rational Software in 2003, where Booch was working as Chief Scientist. Whatever his title, he’s considered somewhat of a “rock star” among software engineers. I was tempted to ask for his autograph when I had the opportunity to speak with him at the IBM Innovate conference this week, but resisted “groupie behavior.” Booch is best known for his work, along with Ivar Jacobson and James Rumbaugh, on developing the Unified Modeling Language (UML). He’s also quite well known for his work on design patterns and has authored several books on UML and object oriented design and analysis.

Though he’s an icon in the world of software development, he chats easily with the crowd at the Innovate conference, with a laid-back smile that sets people at ease.

In this video clip, Booch gives his thoughts about cloud computing and what he sees as future trends in this space.

Booch was one of the speakers at this morning’s keynote at the conference. The title of the presentation was “Imagine!” and included the many exciting opportunities for innovation that are being explored at IBM.  More predictive weather forecasting, improvements in DNA sequencing, and the use of Zinsight were just a few of the projects Booch mentioned.  Booch described the use of Second Life to allow virtual teams to collaborate and demonstrated with a short video of avatars working in cyberspace on an agile project.

I didn’t find the video that Booch showed at the keynote on YouTube, but I was pleased to find a series called “Rational is Agile,” including this video in which you will find the avatars of Matt Holitza, Scott Ambler and Grady Booch.

June 9, 2010  6:44 PM

IBM Innovate: Plans for “smart city” Babcock Ranch

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

The theme of IBM’s Innovate 2010 conference has been “building a smarter planet.”  Building a smarter planet starts with building a smarter city – literally! Plans are underway to build the world’s first fully solar-powered city. IBM announced on June 7th a partnership with Kitson & Partners to develop Babcock Ranch in Southwest Florida using IBM Rational Focal Point software to coordinate and manage the design of the city.

The short video of the city of tomorrow shows a visionary lifestyle focused on high quality of life and powered completely by solar energy. Syd Kitson described this “system of systems” which would emphasize the interconnectedness of education, fitness and wellness, transportation and energy efficiency throughout the entire community, using innovations in software technology. It was only fitting that this modern-day Tomorrowland was presented at the Innovate conference held at the Disneyworld Dolphin Resort.

I got a chance to sit down with the emcee of the Innovate conference, IBM’s Scott Hebner, along with Syd Kitson and Richard Brockway from Kitson & Partners, to talk more about Babcock Ranch.

When I asked about the timeline of the project, Kitson replied, “We expect that we’re going to start construction next year. Right now we’re in the middle of engineering. We’re going to start with jobs. We’re working with several companies that we’re hoping will move into Babcock Ranch. If we have 1000+ employees that’s 800-900 homes and then you start to build a community.”


June 9, 2010  12:11 PM

Scott Ambler at IBM Innovate: Scaling in Agile

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

We spoke with Scott Ambler last week about his thoughts on organizational acceptance of agile.  Today, I was able to speak with him again, this time, in person, at the IBM Innovate 2010 conference.

Ambler is the chief methodologist for agile and lean for IBM Rational. He goes around the world helping organizations understand agile and lean and how to scale. “We’ve been working on the IBM agility  scaling model, the goal of which is to put projects in a context from a scaling point of view. If you want to be effective you need to tailor your processes and tools to reflect the situation you find yourself in.  Even simple practices like daily standup meetings will be very different if you’re a small team, large team, distributed team or regulated team so part of our observation is that there are several scaling factors,”  said Ambler

We mentioned agility within a “system of systems,” a phrase that was used often in the morning’s keynote presentations. Complexity can be a significant scaling factor. If you understand the context you can see that some of the mainstream agile advice may not work, warned Ambler.

When I asked about best practices of distributed agile teams, Ambler said that the majority of agile teams have some aspects of distribution. He said teams need to start using different types of tools and communication practices when they’re distributed. They may organize their teams differently. Each individual subteam will have their own product owners and architecture owners who will need to coordinate.

I asked Ambler about the difference in agile methodologies. “The important thing is to do the right thing for your situation.”

“But how do they know which is the right methodology?” I persisted.

“There are no silver bullets. You need to know what you’re doing,” Ambler said. He recommended that organizations do the research and find help from experienced consultants, making sure they are asking the right questions of the consultants.

In this video, Ambler talks about trends with agile including scaling and integrated systems.


June 9, 2010  12:10 PM

Innovate 2010 Keynote: Software defines success of every business

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Wow! Innovate 2010 opened up with entertainment from Natually 7 and several speakers who inspired the audience of approximately 4000 people, to take innovation seriously.

Author of Gadget Nation Steve Greenberg was the first speaker who talked a bit about the difference between invention and innovation. “To invent is to be the originator. To innovate is to make changes to something established.” Greenberg entertained us with stories of crazy gadgets and told us that to be successful, you need “competitive differentiation.” 

Following Greenberg, Vice President, Marketing and Strategy, IBM Rational software, Scott Hebner introduced  a theme that prevailed with all the speakers: the complexity of integrated software systems creating a “system of systems” linked by the “invisible thread” of software.  “We need to continuously improve collaboration across the solution delivery lifecycle,” Hebner said.

Dr. Danny Sabbah. General Manager, IBM Rational software, spoke next about “econometrics” and the importance for businesses to “balance economic, social and environment objectives.” He tells us, “the world is becoming more interconnected, more instrumented and more intelligent.  In fact, it will be 10x more instrumented in a short five-year period to more than one trillion connected devices. The world is becoming smarter. Software is pervasive. It is the building block of smarter products and services. Software is becoming the invisible thread that enables what we refer to as “system of sytems.”

Several examples were given of “smart systems.” Sabbah talked about intelligent sytems in the health care industry. He described implantable heart defibrillators that are being used to monitor cardiac response for patients with critical heart conditions.  If medical attention is needed, an abulance is alerted and medical care must be administered immediately. The national standard is a four-minute response time for 90% of all emergencies.  A response rate of less than five minutes doubles the chances of patient survival. Software systems are used to help with prioritization, ambulance queueing, decision support, notification, traffic systems to avoid. route optimization with instant integration with local traffic.  A typical ambulance uses software with approximately 50 million lines of code and 10,000 interfaces that help to track, update, test, deploy and maintain the functions needed for this system. And this is just one system of many within health care that is part of a system of systems.

Robert LeBlanc, Senior Vice President, IBM Middleware, IBM Software Group, rounded out the opening keynote by talking about how cloud computing was being used as an IT delivery model, reducing costs and improving efficiency with service delivery.  “Every single industry is going to be impacted by the change that’s going on. Software is becoming the fundamental driver in every single industry. Think about the grid.  Think about how we’ve delivered power for the last 50 years. It hasn’t fundamentally changed. And now we’re starting to see a change in the use of power grids. Every industry’s going to change.”


June 8, 2010  8:47 PM

Jack Danahy at IBM Innovate: Changes in AppScan part of Secure by Design announcement

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

IBM Innovate has given me all kinds of opportunities to speak with IBM’s top execs and hear the latest news and announcements in their Rational product line. I spoke today with Jack Danahy, Security Executive Office for the Office of the CTO, Rational at IBM.

Danahy was the original founder and CEO of Ounce Labs, sold to IBM in July of 2009. The software developed at Ounce Labs provided the static analysis, “testing from the inside.”

Danahy gave me a bit of history of application security testing to explain the acquisition of Ounce Labs and the value or Rational’s AppScan product to the customer. “Security has always been a niche,” said Danahy. In the Internet’s early years firewalls were used for security. The applications had to step up and test for security. They looked for vulnerabilities and exposures. There are a limited number of folks who are really good at that. And there weren’t enough “good at security personel”  to cover everything.  Watchfire was acquired IBM Rational portfolio a few years ago and was very thorough in testing as a hacker would, “from the outside,” Danahy explained.

Customers want to know the system is configured the right way and not vulnerable to external threats from the outside.  They also want to see the source code and find security gaps that can be addressed earlier in the development lifecycle.  “The capacity to look at the software from the inside out and from the outside in” provides the most value for the customer giving them a unique perspective.

In this video, Danahy announces Rational AppScan Source Edition that will enable customers to be able to go to one place for security test results.  IBM is also talking about strategies that will allow customers’ applications to be “secure by design.”

The updates to AppScan was one of four anouncements that was made by IBM today related to their “secure by design” initiative.  IBM also announced enhancements to Tivoli Access Management, a Source Code Assessment Service and a Secure Engineering Framework.


June 7, 2010  8:14 PM

Mainsoft announces Social Connector for Rational Team Concert

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Collaboration and social networking tools are growing by leaps and bounds, moving beyond social applications and into the business world. Mainsoft’s Social Connector product, announced June 7th in Orlando, brings many of the social networking functions to the enterprise by “connecting” IBM Rational Team Concert and IBM Lotus Connections. 

I spoke to Yaacov Cohen, CEO of Mainsoft, and Dekel Cohen, Director of R&D at Mainsoft, who gave me a demo of Social Connector. “It leverages the power of social software in a business context and it speeds up the learning curve of people joining a new project, making people more collaborative and more efficient,” said Yaacov.

Dekel gave us a demo showing how a community can be formed around a project. Features of Social Connector allow for searching for blogs, experts, bookmarks and other resources that might be useful on a project. I asked Cohen about security. I was unclear whether or not these communities were extended beyond the enterprise. Cohen answered that “the primary clients are IBM customers who are using both Rational and Lotus connections. But we also want to give a feel to all Rational developers. Even if they don’t have Lotus connections within the enterprise, they can open an account on My developerWorks for free and then they have access to wikis, communities and activities without making any up-front investment.” I asked if that would be a security concern. “You can open a private community so you’re not necessarily exposed,” Dekel answered.

Yaacov and Dekel demoed various integration points between Rational and Lotus. One example is the ability to publish Rational Team Concert work items as Lotus Connections Activities. Status updates will be published to the project community, allowing for easier communication and collaboration between all stakeholders. 

I asked whether Social Connector would be packaged with the IBM offerings. Yaacov described the software as a “joint venture…This is done with a very tight partnership with IBM,” he said.

More about Mainsoft along with a demo of Social Connectior can be found here.


June 7, 2010  8:04 PM

IBM Innovate 2010 off to a festive start

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Innovate 2010 began today with a welcome reception for the expected 4000 attendees. The packed ballroom included a live band, karaoke, plenty of food, drinks and people. I spoke with several of the attendees, asking what they hoped to get out of the conference. Most of the IBM’ers were here with plans to gather “voice of the customer” feedback from their Rational clients. Others are here to present or to learn. With over 350 sessions over the next four days, there will plenty of options.

Terry Quatrani (TQ), Regional Content Manager for the conference covering all the technical content, was sporting a uniquely decorated hat, complete with feathers, glitter and topped with a globe. She said she comes every year with a different hat, representing the theme of the conference. This year’s theme? Let’s build a smarter planet.

I spoke with Quatrani about the Rational product, first asking her how many products it included. An anonymous eavesdropper nearby joked, “Two million.” TQ couldn’t answer an exact number, but guessed around 50. I checked the Rational Website later and can understand why it would be hard to answer this question. Many of the products come in various flavors so it might be difficult to know exactly how to count them.

“Of those, how many are available on the Jazz platform?” I asked. Jazz is IBM Rational’s new technology that provides a framework for collaboration and integration of various Rational tools. The anonymous onlooker informed me that I had the terminology wrong. “The proper term is jazzified,” he said, and the answer to the question is “only three,” he said holding up three fingers, playfully expressing impatience. Quatrani said she thought there were more and said that there were “more and more coming.”  As a matter of fact, it appears five products have been “jazzified.” According to IBM Rational’s Website: “IBM Rational Team Concert™, Rational Quality Manager, Rational Requirements Composer, Rational Asset Manager and Rational Insight are the first offerings built on or significantly refactored for the Jazz platform.”

Quatrani said that IBM uses a Measured Capability Improvement Framework (MCIF) model to help understand the customer’s pain points. “We give [customers] the Lego pieces to put together a solution that will solve their problem,” she said.

Quatrani will be presenting “Writing Good Use Cases” on Monday and on a panel with Scott Ambler on Tuesday called “Quality in the Trenches Panel: Traditional? Agile? Something Else?” She asked Ambler, a long-time agile proponent, to take the traditional viewpoint on the panel, she tells me with a mischievous smile. It should prove interesting!


June 7, 2010  3:36 PM

Exploring Kanban, agile development’s new rising star

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Kanban, a concept related to lean, recently.  At the agile ALM conference I attended last month there was a lot of talk about lean methodologies, and Kanban has been a heavily-discussed topic at the last three Boulder Agile Software User Group (BASUG) meetings I’ve attended. So, what’s the dish on this newly-popular approach?

Jim Reed, organizer and leader of the BASUG, shed light on Kanban terminology and concepts in an in-depth presentation during a recent BASUG meeting.

Kanban is a concept related to lean methodologies which originated in manufacturing. However, these concepts are being applied more and more in software development environments. Kanban is a Japanese word meaning “signboard.”  A Kanban Board is a visual display in which the movement of objects, in the case of a development project, user story cards, will trigger action. The idea is that there’s continuous flow as the objects are moved across the board to completion.

Kanban is considered an agile methodology, though more adaptive than most. In other words, there aren’t a lot of rules. A slide from the presentation  showed the differences in agile methodologies. Rational Unified Process (RUP), with over 120 rules, was considered the most prescriptive. XP followed with 13 rules. Scrum was next on the adaptive scale with nine rules. Kanban was considered the most adaptive with only three rules:

  • Visualize the Workflow
  • Limit Work-in-Progress (WIP)
  • Measure and Optimize Lead Time

Reed described an example of a development project in which the Kanban board was split into the following groupings:

  • Backlog
  • Selected
  • Develop
  • Deploy
  • Live!

The Backlog holds all the stories, but these are prioritized and moved first into the Selected bucket which triggers action. If the Work in Progress (WIP) Limit is set to two, then there should be no more than two stories in any of the groups in which work is being done.  If a bottleneck occurs in one of the groups, then process rework should be done to alleviate that bottleneck rather than continuing work in earlier phases. This helps to identify bottlenecks and leads to optimization of the whole value chain.

Todd Sheridan from Rally Software, now immersed as a “Scrum Master” at Rally using Kanban,  was a voice of experience at the meeting,   I asked if his group was mixing Scrum and Kanban, and he said they were using pure Kanban, but that many of the concepts and roles from Scrum carried over. He is acting in the same capacity as a Scrum Master; since there is not a defined role or term in Kanban, they continue to use that term to describe the team facilitator.

Here’s how Sheridan explains the meaning of Kanban:


June 2, 2010  4:24 PM

Who are the core vendors in ALM?

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

According to Theresa Lanowitz, founder of IT analyst firm voke inc., the core vendors in the Application Lifecycle Management market are HP, IBM, Microsoft and MKS. That’s not to say there aren’t other vendors that are making strides in ALM. “I see two other types of vendors emerging: vendors with a unique take on the application lifecycle approach and vendors who are delivering tremendous innovation in the application lifecycle with unique product offerings for the dynamic environment that is ALM,” Lanowitz said. Her firm’s research on the ALM marketplace and its players can be found on the voke site’s Lifecycle Transformation page.

I recently moderated a panel discussion on project management challenges and strategies in ALM. Panelists including Lanowitz, Doug Akers of MKS and Richard Knaster of IBM, participated in a panel discussion about project management challenges and strategies in ALM.  We discussed popular vendor tools, as well as concepts and questions, starting with one I’d once blogged about: What’s the definition of ALM? The panel discussion was just one of several sessions that took place on May 19th at SearchSoftwareQuality.com’s ALM Virtual Trade Show.

If you missed the live event, don’t despair. The sessions are available on demand for the next few weeks. Tune in to see the following sessions and keynote presentations:

  • Session 1: The Evolving Application Lifecycle – Delivering a Competitive Advantage
  • Keynote: Innovation in a New Economy – The Business Imperative for Intelligent ALM™: Presented by MKS
  • Session 2: Mastering ALM Processes: The Key to Success
  • Keynote: ALM as Seen Through an Agile Lens: Presented by HP
  • Panel Discussion: Project Management Challenges and Strategies in ALM
  • Session 3: Reducing the Cost of Finding and Fixing Defects – Something New, Something Old

 


May 24, 2010  7:33 PM

Scott Ambler: Agile needs team acceptance and time to work successfully

Daniel Mondello Profile: Daniel Mondello

The other day I had the opportunity to interview Scott W. Ambler, one of the premier thought leaders of the agile methodology and its implementation. In addition, Ambler is IBM’s leader in agile development practices and has held this title for upwards of a decade.

Ambler has been working with the agile methodology since the early 2000s, when the Agile Manifesto was written, defining the meaning of agile in detailed documentation. “I started working with agile almost immediately right after the original snowbird meeting. Specifically I began modeling and examining the ability to scale agile to fit organizational needs — I wanted to see if the methodology was transparent and would be applicable for larger organizations to use.”

Since the introduction of agile to the software community, Ambler has taken part in, as well as organized, several annual surveys on agile success in business. While a large portion of his findings suggest that agile is a key component in revitalized software success – mainly in deployment time frames – it can be difficult for those using traditional methodologies to transition to an agile environment.

“One of the major problems with agile development that I’ve noticed are ‘self-inflicted’ cultural issues,” said Ambler. Organizations that have become all too comfortable in waterfall-type development have a difficult time finding the groove in agile development — and then staying in it.

“Often the biggest agile failures I see are in data groups and QA teams. These are the groups that have become accustomed to being ‘out of control.’ They are used to being micromanaged and aren’t ready or able to begin thinking for themselves. I look at them and wonder ‘how can any organization could tolerate this kind of behavior?,’ but many do, unfortunately. One of the biggest abusers of power that I’ve seen is in IT governance, but they’ve always been a bit of a challenge for organizations looking to run lean,” said Ambler.

Ambler believes that with a willingness and readiness to transition — any team or organization should be capable of adopting some agile techniques — even in the most unlikely of places.

“I have gathered overwhelming evidence in my surveys supporting agile adoption across the board. It is being used everywhere, even outside of software development and finding success. This economy, without a doubt, is a major contributor to this agile momentum — everyone is trying to lean down the expense of their project and roll out working products in smaller intervals. What is so surprising are the areas outside of IT walls that are using agile without reproach.”

Some of the areas Ambler pointed to were in the defense and regulation sectors, places where agile seemed like a long shot if not completely out of the question. “I’ve heard of airplane and missile manufacturers using agile techniques to engineer fuselages, highway construction – the list is endless. But just because agile worked for them, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you.”

Ambler recommends organizations in the manufacturing space interested in agile to check out Real-Time Agility as a reference. But the title is also helpful to strict software developers looking to make their production practice run smoother. The book explains how system engineers and plane manufacturers have been able to bring agile to the physical development industry.

But even with the “across the board” success agile is claiming, Ambler warns “keep in mind, your mileage may vary.”

Just because agile worked in situation “X”, is no indication that it will transcend into other industries, including yours – even if it is a related one. “Many have said to me ‘we can’t do agile development’ and I agree, they probably can’t, but only because there is a self-constructed boundary between their way of working and the way agile works. Agile was never intended to be an overnight fix. And those who believe it is a ‘silver bullet’ often end up shooting themselves in the foot. Agile needs both acceptance and time to work successfully, willingness of teammates and close quarters collaboration,” said Ambler.

So, once again the age old saying fits in patience is a virtue.


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