Software Quality Insights

September 4, 2012  6:08 PM

DevOps supports true agility, quality and performance, says HP

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

HP has embraced the concept of DevOps. “The idea of creating true agility” is to ensure that applications function exactly the way they were designed to, explained Matt Morgan, VP of hybrid IT and cloud, product marketing, HP software, in a recent interview.

Earlier this summer, HP announced the release of enhanced versions of HP Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)  and HP Performance Center (PC). These offerings facilitate continuous delivery of applications, which enable visibility, collaboration and quality in a DevOps environment.

Morgan highlighted a continued emphasis on quality: “Quality has always been a core principle. It’s a core principle whether you’re building a mainframe app, a client server app, a Web app or you’re maintaining apps that are 20 years old. What we’re finding is that while the practice of building software has changed, and is changing, the need to ensure quality has become more important.”

The role of the project manager in DevOps is different than in traditional models. PMs can digitize the key performance indicators, determining success early by looking at a digital dashboard. HP’s approach focuses on providing this type of visibility through an executive scorecard that enables the project manager to track information and disseminate information amongst team members.

“HP believes that performance is a key tenet to quality,” Morgan said. Basically all consumers have high expectations for performance. He explained that HP seeks to facilitate the collaboration between the two sides—development and operations—by creating an application performance management solution that operates bi-directionally, enabling information to travel back and forth from pre-production to resolve defects.

As far as the relationship between agility and quality, Morgan asserted, “There is a lot of concern that QA professionals have that agility means less quality. And it is the absolute opposite. People are betting their business in a more key way on business software than ever before. And that software cannot fail.”

“The idea of quality being in at any point marginalized needs to be flipped on its head. Actually, there has been a spike in the importance of quality. I think this is a call to all quality assurance professionals to elevate their conversations, both internally and externally, about how key quality becomes when competition is just a click away,” Morgan concluded.

For recent stories on DevOps, see:

HP announces new applications offerings that support DevOps

DevOps: Project management and leadership that align IT and business


August 22, 2012  6:08 PM

Strategies for Agile enterprises: Agile2012 conference coverage recap

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb has offered a wide variety of coverage on Agile in the enterprise this month, coinciding with the Agile2012 conference last week in Dallas, Texas. Here is a recap of conference coverage:

Agile2012 preview: Emerging strategies for Agile enterprises

Mike Cottmeyer, enterprise Agile coach at LeadingAgile, LLC, gave a preview of what to expect from both his Wednesday talk, “Patterns for Agile Adoption and Transformation,” and his Thursday talk, “Understanding Agile Program and Portfolio Management.” Each offers strategies for managers to adopt Agile and change the structure of project management within the organization.

Agile2012 preview: Defining and delivering value with structured conversations

Structured conversations enable team members to communicate more effectively and meet delivery expectations, according to Ellen Gottesdiener, principal consultant and Mary Gorman, VP of quality and delivery at EBG Consulting, who co-presented “The Product Partnership: Using Structured Conversations to Deliver Value.”

Effective team communication strategies: Structured conversations, product partnerships

Consultants Ellen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman provide insight into logical strategies that aid in team communication in Agile organizations that include structured conversations in this article, which explores these ideas more in-depth.

Applying Lean-Agile principles for successful enterprise agility

How can Lean-Agile principles help guide teams in successfully adopting Agile in the enterprise? Alan Shalloway, founder and CEO of NetObjectives, presented “Scaling Agile with Multiple Teams: Using Lean to Drive Business Value.” His presentation highlighted effective principles as well as case studies that demonstrate successful implementations.

Emergn announces VFQ work-based learning program at Agile2012

Agile practitioners who seek to improve their skills have a new training option available to them. At Agile2012, Emergn announced its launch of Value Flow Quality (VFQ) Education, a work-based learning program that enables project managers, developers, testers and other team members to complete self-driven training, immediately applying skills while working on their current projects.

August 21, 2012  4:11 PM

Shunra releases new mobile app performance testing tool

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

Shunra recently announced a new mobile app performance testing tool, vCat for Mobile, which expands their existing vCat technology to mobile devices. Dave Berg, senior director of product management and Shunra COO Bill Varga, offered details on how this tool works and the benefits it provides.

In developing vCat for Mobile, Shunra added two new improvements, including an enhanced API that allows the ability to remotely control the product through Web services. “You can control it through a phone, or another application, which makes the total cost of ownership go down and simplifies different use cases,” said Berg.

They also added the capability to virtualize more than one network on one piece of software, supporting up to 10 simultaneous networks.

Analysis has shown that vCat for Mobile improves mobile app performance by over 40%. Berg explained that Shunra tested the product by cloning very popular websites and implementing vCat recommendations to see how performance improved. The controlled environment of vCat technology enables companies to experiment with various changes before implementing them across their applications.

Varga explained the value of pre-deployment testing, warning that “just a 250 millisecond delay is enough to lose customers to a competitive offering and damage company brand. With vCat for Mobile, organizations now have a powerful tool to measure, evaluate and optimize their applications to ensure a positive customer experience.”

He discussed how Shunra uses discovery tools called NetworkCatcher that provide primary and secondary tool options for specific use conditions. NetworkCatcher was designed specifically for application performance engineering, Berg added.

For more on application performance engineering, see the white paper “Mobile Application Performance Engineering: A lifecycle approach to achieving confidence in application performance.

Ultimately, vCat for Mobile offers companies a strong ROI and reduction in total cost of ownership. “Pre-production helps avoid significant remediation expenses for all of our customers,” concluded Varga.

August 16, 2012  4:02 PM

Emergn announces VFQ work-based learning program at Agile2012

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

Agile practitioners who seek to improve their skills have a new training option available to them. At Agile2012 this week, Emergn announced its launch of Value Flow Quality (VFQ) Education, a work-based learning program that enables project managers, developers, testers and other team members to complete self-driven training, immediately applying skills while working on their current projects.

Paul Dolman-Darrall, EVP for strategy at Emergn, explained that the business benefits this system offers are encompassed in the name: it delivers more value, improves flow and team cooperation and enhances quality and productivity. The VFQ course uses a modular system that enables students to study within a time frame that works for them, whether it’s a couple of months or up to a year.

He described the three levels of certification currently available, explaining that “the first level is about finding something that is suitable for your particular role or for a particular methodology that you are implementing, say Scrum or Kanban, for example.”

The highest level is known as the deployment level, which is a very comprehensive course. The choices allow participants to go as far as they would like to go, choosing from 60 topics. The setup is also flexible, so students can study at work, at home or from anywhere.

The course has been designed for all the major roles within IT, and recently the course is expanding to business analysts and other business roles. “IT is not a silo; it’s not by itself within a business. It has to become part of the business. So what we’ve discovered through our early pilots is that some people in the business are working quite heavily with IT and have also started to pick up the materials,” said Dolman-Darrall.

Companies can invest in the amount of content that they feel is appropriate for their organization, either by purchasing modules by themselves or registering for a monthly subscription that enables access to all the learning content. In addition, Emergn offers a two-day corporate training course for those organizations that are looking for a one-time training opportunity.

Customers who have tried VFQ have provided positive feedback so far, vouching that they are really learning and that the program explains both the “how” and the “why.” They have been able to immediately apply skills on the job and proactively prevent and resolve issues.

August 13, 2012  3:47 PM

Applying Lean-Agile principles for successful enterprise agility

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

How can Lean-Agile principles help guide teams in successfully adopting Agile in the enterprise? Alan Shalloway, founder and CEO of NetObjectives, is presenting “Scaling Agile with Multiple Teams: Using Lean to Drive Business Value”  at Agile2012 on Aug. 14. He offered a preview of his presentation, which highlights effective principles as well as case studies that demonstrate successful implementations.

He has found through his work that smaller teams using Agile report success, while teams using Agile at the enterprise level rarely report success. Shalloway and his colleagues have found that Lean management and coaching offer many benefits to enterprise agility efforts.

He explained, “We’ve created a framework called the Lean-Agile roadmap that doesn’t tell people what to do per se– nothing is ever prescriptive, or shouldn’t be– but it tells people what they need to accomplish.” It is based on Lean flow principles, and has proven to be a successful approach.

The presentation focuses on the goals teams need to accomplish in order to achieve enterprise agility, which center around optimizing the time spent from the conception of the idea to project completion. When there are multiple teams, the general approach has been that they will work on their respective projects and then communicate with each other through Scrum of Scrums.

Shalloway noted, however, that as teams tend to be “tribal” and focus on their own objectives, this approach is not always effective. He recommends creating a bigger context for all involved, which he says begins with identifying the business value of the project.

Implementing Lean flow ideas requires that teams in very large organizations introduce a new role, the business product owner, or project manager, who liaises between the stakeholders and the teams. This individual can help manage projects with the big picture in mind. They help the teams take a holistic view.

“Most practitioners have a holistic mindset,” he commented. “Most people who are trying to adopt Agile understand that the need for this holistic view is important, but it’s not a command and control thing; it’s just a way to create a bigger picture.”

Shalloway advocates that teams self-organize and experience the effectiveness of these principles themselves. He doesn’t believe in telling people how they should go about their projects. He explained that teams can take advantage of the experience and knowledge they already have: “They can validate it on their own past experience if it will work or not.”

He continued, “They don’t have to abandon their old roles. They can actually start where they are and make changes based on these new insights that have been provided to them.”

August 9, 2012  2:14 PM

Agile2012 preview: Defining and delivering value with structured conversations

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

Structured conversations enable team members to communicate more effectively and meet delivery expectations, according to Ellen Gottesdiener, principal consultant and Mary Gorman, VP of quality and delivery at EBG Consulting. They are co-presenting “The Product Partnership: Using Structured Conversations to Deliver Value” at Agile2012 on Monday, August 13.

They cited experiences with clients, those who are currently using Agile and those who are transitioning to Agile, where stakeholder conversations had been less than optimal. One of the main issues Gorman noted is that planning meetings can be unproductive, lacking the focus, detail and attention to complexity that is really necessary. Often the right people are not involved in the project.

Gottesdiener added that team members often come to the meeting with requirements that are not ready for planning.

She explained that there is an “art and science of making requirements ready to pull into the team’s work for a particular delivery cycle, whether it’s a release, or whether it’s an iteration, or, using Scrum terminology, a sprint.” She emphasized, “‘Making ready’ is a really big issue.”

Other challenges with stakeholder conversations are the siloes that form, in which Agile team members are adhering to particular “roles” rather than working together towards the same goal—delivering value. Furthermore, the value is not well-defined; it is not transparent or explicit for team members.

In terms of explicit value, Gorman explained that it’s important to look at what the value is for each of the product partners—the customers, the business people and the technology stakeholders. “What’s their value, and what’s their perspective on the value of the product that they’re going to use? Be very explicit about that, really get inside their head, and sometimes their heart.”

She continued, “Being able to explore the value and then use that for our decisions as we move along has been really critical.”

Gottesdiener added that everyone needs to understand the definition of value. She said, “Value is fair return or equivalent in exchange for something—goods, services, money, time… Value is in the eyes of the beholder.”

During the tutorial the participants will learn how to apply the structured conversation pattern “Explore-Evaluate-Confirm” to identify high-value product options. 

Gottesdiener and Gorman are also presenting the following at Agile2012:

That Settles It! Techniques for Transparent and Trusted Decision-Making on Your Agile Team Wednesday morning, August 15, 2012 with Ellen Gottesdiener. 
The Contracting Two-Step: Patterns for Successful Collaborations, Wednesday afternoon, August 15, 2012 with Mary Gorman.

August 7, 2012  5:45 PM

Agile2012 preview: Emerging strategies for Agile enterprises

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

At Agile2012 in Dallas next week, Mike Cottmeyer, Enterprise Agile Coach at LeadingAgile, LLC, will be giving two presentations. He gave a preview of what to expect from both. His Wednesday talk, “Patterns for Agile Adoption and Transformation” and his Thursday talk, “Understanding Agile Program and Portfolio Management,” both offer strategies for managers to adopt Agile and change the structure of project management within the organization.

“How do you enact the cultural shift that inevitably has to happen? That falls into the category of non-trivial problems,” says Cottmeyer. Sometimes completing a total transformation takes months or even years, depending on the organization. Fortunately, Agile has evolved to the point now that there are several success stories out there, as well as failures that provide current practitioners with a basis of what not to do, so Agile adoption can prove highly beneficial despite the complex changes involved.

Senior leadership teams can make a total Agile project management transformation. “Where it really works best is when you’ve got an engaged senior leadership team that understands the problem and is able to make the changes organizationally, enterprise-wide, that are necessary to make Agile work.” It goes beyond just a development process, extending into the other team members’ functions as well.

Agile transformation, the focus of Wednesday’s talk, requires attention to organizational structure, practices and culture, Cottmeyer explains. Furthermore, he emphasizes the importance of the inter-relationship between those three factors. Organizations can achieve success with systematic, incremental steps that consider each of these dimensions.

Thursday’s presentation on program and portfolio management will focus mainly on practices, techniques and tools that teams can use to efficiently accomplish their goals.

Cottmeyer hopes participants will leave with a different view on what is possible with Agile. “As Agile moves into its second decade, there are a lot of us out there dealing with the real, corporate realities that these managers are facing, and there are strategies beginning to emerge that can help them be effective as long as they’re willing to look beyond the traditional boundaries of Agile that people have been talking about for the last ten years. And really focus on business-level agility. There’s some good ideas out there that people are having success with.”

For other recent SSQ articles on enterprise Agile, see:

Scaling Agile requirements management to the enterprise level
Textbook vs. Enterprise Agile development: Adapting Scrum to scale
Managing requirements as production applications scale

July 25, 2012  7:45 PM

HP set to boost configuration management for cloud computing

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

Traditional and cloud computing environments are becoming more complex, at the same time that companies feel pressure to deliver more services and efficiently manage IT performance. For the cloud, particularly, application configuration can be a bottleneck. To try to meet the emerging needs, HP recently rolled out a new configuration management system that provides visibility into software and infrastructure while offering new automated capabilities.

HP Configuration Management System (CMS) 10 includes HP Universal Discovery software, which offers automated discovery capabilities to support the deployment and management of physical, virtual and cloud projects. HP CMS 10 forms an essential part of the HP IT Performance Suite, an enterprise performance software platform.

Jimmy Augustine, product marketing manager, HP Software explained that “just-in-time discovery allows us to run in very different environments.” Additionally, automated discovery lowers costs resulting from service disruption and reduces time spent on manual discovery. Basically, the HP software can go out and map complex configurations, including applications and infrastructure. It provides a map of dependencies too.

“We come back with a rich picture of the software they have. And it supports business services,” said Augustine.

A prime selling point for cloud computing is that the machines can be up and running immediately, not in months. “It’s great for users, but on the backend it is a challenge,” said Augustine. The goal for CMS 10 is to fill in the gap.

Public cloud is a promising class of cloud, but it does not come without some familiar stubborn details for operations to address. The HP software is intended to help here as well. The software is helpful when operations people must oversee such details as license compliance, added Augustine. On another note, the HP software can help testers by making available a more accurate map of the running system.

Contributions to this article by Jack Vaughan

July 24, 2012  2:06 PM

Building security requirements into software: Mobile apps, Web services and the cloud

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

Organizations are more concerned about application security than ever and have a growing awareness of security concerns.’s newest expert, Dan Cornell, principal of software consulting company Denim Group, discusses mobile security, what organizations can do to build security requirements into software and security challenges in cloud ALM.

He views the most serious concerns with mobile software security as falling into two major areas: 1) how organizations expose their users to risk, and 2) how applications expose the companies themselves to risk.

In regards to user risk, he explains, “Mobile apps have impact on security of your customers and their data and most folks would agree that a forward-thinking enterprise is going to take into account the security situation of their users and they’re not going to want to expose their users to risk because of these applications they’re developing. It’s bad business.”

As far as company risk, he explains that potentially sensitive algorithms are put in mobile applications that are then run on mobile devices that are vulnerable to attackers who can disassemble them, and “more importantly, organizations are exposing Web services to support these mobile applications.” The Web services that run in a company’s data centers are vulnerable to risk in online customer support scenarios, for example.

He recommends that organizations examine whether their Web services can remain resilient against malicious attacks, and offers suggestions for including security in the requirements management process. He says, “If the developers know going in that they need to implement these different controls, then they know to build them.”

Cornell continues, “We often use a technique called threat modeling, to in a structured way to lay out the different assets and parts of the system and where data flows, and use that to identify potential weaknesses during the design stage, so you can identify those up front and plan to mitigate those risks, rather than rolling them out and try to retrofit the security controls later.”

When it comes to cloud application security, Cornell explains:

Software as a Service applications and their APIs are being incorporated into mobile apps to implement some functionality of the system. It’s important for developers to understand if you’re getting data feeds from Twitter or from Facebook or from Salesforce, especially systems where content is being generated by third parties, you have to be very careful when you bring that data into your system to make sure that it conforms to whatever rules you expect it to conform to. You shouldn’t trust things that are coming from these cloud applications necessarily.

On the other hand, the availability of SaaS and PaaS platforms is appealing to developers. It can be very convenient and beneficial for many companies to rely on cloud services, but from a security standpoint, there are potential risks as well.

Cornell emphasizes that “you need to be judicious in where you elect to give up control,” and this tradeoff is different for every organization.

To read some of Cornell’s SSQ Ask the Expert responses, see:

Developing applications on SaaS platforms: Factors to consider

Understanding mobile, Web and cloud apps and system architecture


July 19, 2012  4:05 PM

DevOps: Project management and leadership that align IT and business

Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

In a recent conversation with Shlomo Swidler, prominent consultant and founder of Orchestratus, he discussed the merits of strong project leaders and team builders in the DevOps environment.

Swidler offered a historical perspective on DevOps and said that it is another step in the continuing evolution of the IT service delivery model. In the past teams were divided, operations was typically only involved in hardware and developers were typically only involved in software.

“As the two roles started to converge, because software began to take on more and more responsibility for high availability, those roles also merged. That’s really what DevOps is. The closer alignment of development and operations, or the functions within the organization that know how to build the software and the functions that know how to deliver the software,” he explained. This alignment is more and more common in companies today, and there is more awareness of this convergence.

“In and of itself, DevOps does not help organizations build software that is more in tune with what the users want…What DevOps can do is help, once you understand what the users’ needs are, to develop applications more quickly, and in such a way that once they are deployed, they will be more reliable,” he said.

In any environment, the role of the project manager is to make sure the team has all the skills it needs to develop an application that is correct and serviceable in the field to meet desired reliability, according to Swidler. He explained that in DevOps, the project manager must ensure that both the development and operations sides understand what the other side needs, and make sure that interactions and “cross-functional germination” take place.

There is a cultural gap between developers and operations—as developers push through change readily, and operations people tend to want to minimize risk, he explained. Their performance is measured by two very different criteria. However, good team builders and project managers create a “team-wide incentive alignment” so that the two sides can work together effectively.

“Culture is created by leaders. Whatever the leader’s behavior expresses, that is what the organization is going to rally around,” Swidler explained. 

He went on to say, “It’s the leader’s responsibility to make sure that the team is managed or structured or governed in such a way that everybody’s success or failure is mutually dependent.” Ultimately, this is how to go about aligning IT teams with business objectives.

For other recent SSQ stories on DevOps, see:

DevOps as an Agile practice: Delivering quality

Release management: How DevOps facilitates collaboration

HP announces new applications offerings that support DevOps

Agile, cloud and DevOps targets for HP ALM suite updates

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