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Scaling Agile development is, typically, a costly and inefficient process for two main reasons: one, the widespread use of various -- not single-vendor development -- tools in the DevOps toolchain; and, two, the need in Agile and DevOps for team coordination.
"The problem is that the cost of connecting all the tools in their [DevOps] toolchain is going to exceed the cost of delivering some of our applications," said Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop technologies Inc. Addressing the problem of scaling Agile development, his team created Tasktop Integration Hub, a unified suite which, simply put, integrates application lifecycle management (ALM) tools and provides a centralized view of a company's application development lifecycle.
In this interview, Kersten talks about scaling Agile development, the evolution of the DevOps toolchain and the future of both methodologies.
He also explains how Tasktop Integration Hub fits into these scenarios.
Looking at the software development lifecycle and the DevOps toolchain today, one sees a lot of separate, moving parts. How does this impact the complexity of scaling Agile development?
Mik Kersten: There are all these tools, but none of them work together well. None of them talk to each other out of the box.
What people told us is that their businesses can't remain competitive at scale without value stream integration, where you connect all those parts. And, most importantly, businesses need to keep tools, apps and information updated continually. Then, everyone on the DevOps team needs visibility.
Mik KerstenCEO, Tasktop
People have seen that their businesses can't succeed in their digital transformation without a tool that allows us to plug everything in. And then [connecting everything] will allow them to scale that model to all the other project areas, to all the other lines of business. That would really make the impact that [businesses are] after, to get the ROI that we're after from this transformation.
What does the model-based approach of the Tasktop Integration Hub do to unite the DevOps toolchain?
Kersten: With this model-based approach, we could create a whole web user interface with a visual integration designer. The whole thing's completely visual, and the skill set required for the common integrations are at just the administrator level. The interface makes it very easy to start connecting a value stream, put that into production quickly and then add more projects, more tools and more systems.
What is the skill set needed to scale Agile development and connect the DevOps toolchain using Integration Hub?
Kersten: A lot of the transformations have fallen apart and failed to deliver value because connecting the value stream has required a skill set that's too hard. Some organizations think they can just connect the tools, do the API work and so on. Then, they realize that connecting four tools to each other creates exponential problems, like too many API calls.
We targeted the skill level of an administrator of an Agile tool. [A Hewlett Packard Enterprise] ALM administrator could set it all up. The interface gives them all of the guidance that they need. And the integrations with some of the DevOps tools, it's really targeted to a DevOps engineer, who can connect things without doing a whole bunch of work … and no coding. So, that's been the core thing: to make this be easy to use.
Will the DevOps methodology have the staying power to merit investments in it?
Kersten: The quick answer is DevOps is here to stay. Hopefully, we all take it for granted in 10 years when everyone's got fully automated testing and continuous delivery.
If we look back at the methodologies in IT, we see that many have become standards. On the operations side, [IT Infrastructure Library] is not going away. Forms of scaled Agile are here to stay as well, whether it's SAFe or Nexus or something else. There are a bunch of old-school methodologies, like [Product Management Body of Knowldge], that have long life spans.
Methodologies are very slow to go away. People don't want to admit that they still have waterfall in their stack, but they do. Most large organization's maintenance software still has some aspects of Waterfall.
We always are layering on these methodologies, and transformations don't happen overnight. Then again, everyone knows we need to get to more Lean styles of delivery, and Agile and DevOps embody that. That's why they're here to stay.
Even after choosing Agile or DevOps practices, organizations have to choose between a number of options.
Kersten: Yes. The organization has to select the right set of methodologies -- whether it's more Lean, more toward DevOps, more toward two-week sprints and so on. The key is to get the whole organization on the [chosen methodology] end to end. That drives faster innovations.
Then, once an organization starts to scale Agile development, there's always an exercise in combining the different methodologies and transforming them.
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