From chaos and sprawl to seamless delivery of business innovation – Harness ALM for effective Agile and continuous delivery

Let’s step into the mind of an application team project manager… The organization is moving to Agile.  Agile defines faster iterations and daily team collaboration in “stand up” meetings.   Developers and testers collaborate together to rapidly develop or modify source code to meet the goals of the user stories and functional, performance and security testing is assumed to be done rapidly as well. When defects are found, they are quickly assessed in the stand up meeting and either fixed or added to the backlog.   In theory, this scenario could be manageable when teams were co-located and could stand-up in a room together and discuss status.   There is also an implicit assumption that developers and testers work closely together, sharing data about source code changes, tests case requirements and annotated defects in real-time.  

 

Reality check – teams are distributed. 

 

Often a project involves individuals in two or three remote locations across multiple time zones.   Code changes rapidly but those change events are not captured and associated with the original user story or the test results.   Defects sneak through, whole sections of the iteration fail to be tested and the actual testing ends up being done in production by the end-user.   Agile can quickly strain the process of collaboration between testers and developers and strain the ultimate quality of the application.  

 

Let’s add continuous delivery into this mix.   When we talk continuous delivery, we not only need to align the pre-production teams with Agile and the concept of rapid iteration, but now we also need to bring in production operations.  If application teams are not able to establish seamless handoffs to staging and production and infuse a culture of trust that adopting continuous delivery will not break down the carefully crafted fabric of control and SLA integrity, continuous delivery will turn into the world’s biggest “release to production” traffic jam.   One only has to imagine the unmanaged adoption of Agile and continuous delivery leading to the IT equivalent of a massive, growing metropolis with no city planning, infrastructure outages and traffic jams of epic proportions.

 

 

 

 

Move from traffic jam to open highway.

 

So, how do we create a seamless flow of high-quality application delivery between applications and operations?  Again, the key word is collaboration.  How can you do that? Try this:

 

  • Establish a steel thread of information that accompanies the new code being delivered. 
  •  Ensure that any new functionality or application changes are accompanied by the needed metadata that shows functional completeness, expected performance and elimination of security vulnerabilities.  And combine this core metadata with automation. 
  • Take the highly labor intensive yet rote manual tasks out of the equation so that the high quality, thoroughly tested solution can rapidly be provisioned onto elastic staging infrastructure for final systems testing and then be rapidly provisioned into production with the supported configurations in place on day-one.

 

Agile and continuous delivery promise IT the ability to deliver software innovation at the speed of business.    But they also can rapidly disrupt processes, cause unplanned changes and defects to sneak through, and strain both the operational fabric and the culture between pre-production and operations.  Agile and continuous delivery call out for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).  ALM provides key guidance for all aspects of delivering the software,  keeping track of the project iterations or sprints, tasks, ownership, changes and associating changes to source with testing, user stories and defects.  This steel thread of information surrounded by a management platform that fosters collaboration, keeps teams working together rapidly and effectively to ensure quality delivery to operations.

 

 

Combining ALM with automation gets teams even further on the open road to efficiency and continuous delivery, squeezing out repetitive manual tasks and reducing cycle times so that the team members themselves can focus on the areas of biggest impact such as exploratory testing and end-to-end performance testing rather than repetitive tasks like regression testing.

 

 Like a rapidly growing metropolis – adopting Agile and continuous integration can help you keep up with vital business requirements but it requires an investment in infrastructure to support communication, collaboration, management and automation.  ALM is the ticket to avoid sprawl and chaos and deliver high quality solutions at the speed of business.

 

Want to learn more?  There are white papers and video snippets available on ALM and its value in Agile environments here on HP.com.

 

 

We also hope you are able to join us at HP’s premier client event, HP DISCOVER, taking place Nov. 29 - Dec. 1 in Vienna, Austria.

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About the Author
Kelly has over 20 years experience with enterprise systems and software in individual contributor and manager roles across product manageme...


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