In Part 1 of APMdigest's exclusive interview, John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist for HP's Software Research Group, talks about how to succeed in the current app development environment.
APM: HP seems to be making a lot of news in the application developer space, particularly the mobile developer space. What's driving the push?
JJ: At the HP Discover event in June, our CEO, Meg Whitman, discussed HP's four transformative areas that cover the whole company, including hardware, software and services. HP's push into the developer space is tied to several of these areas.
The first area that links to developers is empowering the data-driven organization, as companies are collecting an unprecedented amount of information about their customers, and the way their products and services are used. Data helps businesses make better decisions, and in the app delivery space it helps application development teams deliver higher-quality applications faster. Data also enables application development teams themselves to be more productive, as well as the enterprise end-users for whom they're designing new applications.
Second, enabling workplace productivity is about delivering world-class service to end users on their device of choice, often mobile. To do this, development teams have to be able to "know" what end users want, when they want it and how they want it. Then, developers have to be able to quickly deliver high quality solutions to keep their end-user community happy and satisfied.
APM: What do organizations need to do to be successful in the current app development environment?
JJ: Organizations face two seemingly conflicting challenges. They must roll-out new applications and functionality at speeds never seen before, but these applications must also be extremely reliable and high-quality, particularly from an end-user performance perspective.
Today, brands practically live and die by their mobile app store rankings. Customers who have a bad experience with a mobile app are probably not going to give it a second chance, and will move on to a competitor quickly. In addition, customers will not hesitate to post negative reviews and complaints on social media sites. Similarly, employees using an app to do their job will be less productive if the app is clumsy and time-consuming. Therefore it is imperative that organizations select the right tools and methodologies to manage the balance between speed and quality.
APM: What are the right tools and methodologies?
JJ: The best approach for a given development project really depends on the business drivers, application complexity and business risk tolerance. For mobile apps, speed of delivery and frequent updates are expected, typically agile and DevOps are the norm with substantial automation (testing, deployment, etc.).
On the other hand, updates to large and very complex core business systems (ERP, financial, etc) often don't require speed, but rather require exceptionally low risk of errors and defects. In these cases, often a more traditional (waterfall type) approach is suitable.
The "right" tools is a function of several factors: the team's skill set, the need for distributed collaboration and integration into the existing tool ecosystem.
APM: What makes a quality app? What are the key factors in the "quality" equation?
JJ: When people think of app quality, they most often think in terms of it being functional – working as it is supposed to – and delivering a slick, easy experience for end users. A quality app should be able to work flawlessly in both good and bad network conditions, which frequently change. Development teams need to design for fluid network situations, and not assume 4G or WiFi.
But there are more components to quality than functional and end-user performance – there is also security; we call this the "quality trifecta". A quality app should also be trustworthy from a security perspective. In the race to market for new applications, developers often fall into the trap of re-using existing software components that may defective without their knowing. With hackers using increasingly sophisticated methods, this can leave organizations with huge blind spots. This can be particularly harmful in the mobile app arena, since mobile app transactions often tie directly to back-end systems. A security hole in a mobile app can seriously compromise a company's IT infrastructure.
APM: What are the key points that the business side of companies does not realize about app development, but really should know?
JJ: Industry leaders are rolling out new apps and capabilities at a mind-boggling pace. For example, the Facebook mobile app is updated and refreshed every two weeks like clockwork. This is the new normal, and Facebook and others are setting expectation levels for end users regarding both the frequency and quality of apps. Users expect apps to be constantly fixed and updated, and other companies need to get on board.
Unfortunately, not all companies have the resources of Facebook, that allow them to achieve these seemingly dichotomous ends – extremely fast roll-out of high quality software. But whether we like it or not, software is what sets companies apart today, and business executives know this and are relentlessly focused on it. There needs to be a mindset shift, from "project" to "product". Rather than funding a "project" for a new mobile app, businesses need to shift their mindset to consider how to fund the life of the "product". This allows the product team to accelerate their pace of delivery, based on their available resources.
APM: What is the "shift left" movement in testing?
JJ: Traditionally, the application lifecycle followed a sequential model – ideation, development, testing and finally, production. It used to appear that testers assumed the bulk of responsibility for ensuring an application worked as it was supposed to, before it moved to the production phase. Developers would essentially throw their newly created application "over the wall" to testers — and later IT ops — and consider their job done. "I've created the app, now it's your job to make sure it works" was a common line of developer thinking.
But today, developers are assuming a greater role in testing, ensuring that applications meet basic functional requirements before they move any further down the funnel towards testing, and ultimately production. In addition, testing teams are getting involved earlier in the cycle so that quality checks are not left to the end.
This is known as the "shift left" movement, and its goal is to prevent code defects from getting too baked into applications as they progress through the lifecycle. The further along an application moves toward production, the more embedded defects can become, and the more costly and time-consuming they are to un-do. In fact, when you look at DevOps, the concept of keeping the application always "production ready" is really a statement about the entire team embracing quality at all stages.
APM: What are some of the most common challenges developers face as they start to shift left to this new style of delivery?
JJ: Even with their newly added responsibilities, the world of agile and DevOps demands development teams work within shortened cycles. It is a race against time. In addition, where testers are concerned, more application roll-outs also mean more testing. Testers simply don't have time to get bogged down in manual tasks like provisioning testing platforms, tweaking testing environments and executing multiple rounds of repetitive tests. Fortunately, tools exist today to bring greater testing automation to developers, and integrate right into existing developer environments and frameworks. Further downstream, automation tools for testers enable them to test more applications, faster.
Today, there are multiple market research studies that discuss and estimate a thriving growth for the application development segment. The market scenario seems relevant and business-ready for the growing popularity of applications. In order to keep the performance and functioning of the applications upbeat, enterprises are increasingly considering application performance management (APM) ...
Self-service and the concept of “Shift Left” are some of the phrases you will hear the most in the modern service management industry. The reason being is that you want to provide your users with the most important knowledge that you can to help them solve their issues and problems themselves, saving you time to focus on more important priorities. It’s a common problem, sort of a chicken and egg approach, but when you help your internal teams better meet their needs through such efforts, you also want to make sure that what is best for your service department also is best for your users ...
Confidence in satisfying and supporting core IT has diminished due in part to a strain on declining IT budgets and initiatives now progressing beyond implementation into production mode, according to TEKsystems' annual IT Forecast research ...
Making predictions is always a gamble. But given the way 2017 played out and the way 2018 is shaping up, odds are that certain technology trends will play a significant role in your IT department this year ...
With more than one-third of IT Professionals citing "moving faster" as their top goal for 2018, and an overwhelming 99 percent of IT and business decision makers noticing an increasing pace of change in today's connected world, it's clear that speed has become intrinsically linked to business success. For companies looking to compete in the digital economy, this pace of transformation is being driven by their customers and requires speedy software releases, agility through cloud services, and automation ...
Looking back on this year, we can see threads of what the future holds in enterprise networking. Specifically, taking a closer look at the biggest news and trends of this year, IT areas where businesses are investing and perspectives from the analyst community, as well as our own experiences, here are five network predictions for the coming year ...
As we enter 2018, businesses are busy anticipating what the new year will bring in terms of industry developments, growing trends, and hidden surprises. In 2017, the increased use of automation within testing teams (where Agile development boosted speed of release), led to QA becoming much more embedded within development teams than would have been the case a few years ago. As a result, proper software testing and monitoring assumes ever greater importance. The natural question is – what next? Here are some of the changes we believe will happen within our industry in 2018 ...
Application Performance Monitoring (APM) has become a must-have technology for IT organizations. In today’s era of digital transformation, distributed computing and cloud-native services, APM tools enable IT organizations to measure the real experience of users, trace business transactions to identify slowdowns and deliver the code-level visibility needed for optimizing the performance of applications. 2018 will see the requirements and expectations from APM solutions increase in the following ways ...
We don't often enough look back at the prior year’s predictions to see if they actually came to fruition. That is the purpose of this analysis. I have picked out a few key areas in APMdigest's 2017 Application Performance Management Predictions, and analyzed which predictions actually came true ...
Planning for a new year often includes predicting what’s going to happen. However, we don't often enough look back at the prior year’s predictions to see if they actually came to fruition. That is the purpose of this analysis. I have picked out a few key areas in APMdigest's 2017 Application Performance Management Predictions, and analyzed which predictions actually came true ...