Five steps to delivering agile development and testing in the Cloud

HP cloud specialist

Andrew Stuart, HP Business Unit Manager, Avnet Technology Solutions UK

How ‘agile’ is your agile development?

  Software development cycles have become compressed over the years. This is true in terms of both pure software development and the implementation of package software applications. There has been a significant shift from historic waterfall development methodologies, which consisted of long planning cycles with a limited number of releases per year, to agile development techniques with continuous rapid delivery of incremental improvements. As a result of the larger number of release cycles there is need for increased testing and provisioning of controlled test environments which means a different set of challenges.

Some would say the development bottleneck has simply moved to the complex task of configuring and administering the hardware and software stack required for testing new applications. Modern composite applications rely on a complex stack of interdependent software programs. Changes in any one of the applications that contribute to the overall solution can have unanticipated consequences.

Here are five steps to avoid those consequences, break the bottleneck and test the cloud:

1) Automated deployment in a Private Cloud

Software development and testing is an ideal environment to exploit cloud automation software. It solves the issue of provisioning delays, inaccuracy and system administration costs without adding risk to production systems. With initiatives such as Avnet’s Cloud-in-a-Box organisations can implement a private cloud and populate it with advanced test management software to allow developers and testers to work together in a streamlined environment that fully supports agile methodologies without creating a testing bottleneck.

2) Beating the provisioning challenge

In order to keep up with agile development testing there is a need to stand up complex software and hardware environments quickly, accurately and reliably. Precise environment descriptions are required to ensure that the exact version of every contributing element is consistent between development, testing and production. On average each fresh install of components in a ‘sandbox’ can take 12-man hours of system administration per server, followed by six hours to configure and verify the complete environment. Assuming 80 ‘sandbox’ requests per year and the average request requires five servers to be built this gives an annual cost in excess of £290K. The beauty of using private cloud automation tools means this cost can be reduced by as much as 75 percent and even better it can be paid out of operational expense (OPEX) instead of capital expense (CAPEX).

3) Saving time on test planning and execution

Applications go through a predictable lifecycle and developers and testers need a systematic approach underpinned by tools that enforce the methodology in a productive manner. For example, there should be a Requirement Tree that displays the hierarchical relationship among requirements and ties them to tests and defects; a Test Plan Tree with defect and requirements association, risk-based prioritisation and test execution. By managing the scheduling and running of tests and organising them into test sets designed to achieve specific goals and business processes, time and expense can be saved by using the cloud.

4) Speeding production deployment

Server automation tools form the basis of production cloud deployments. By gaining familiarity with server automation tools during development and testing, IT departments become well-placed to evaluate their production for migration to the cloud. The precise software stack identified by the development team and verified by the quality testing team can then be deployed to a production environment for example running HP’s Server Automation tools.

5) Risk-based quality management

Risk-based, automated quality testing controls IT costs by reducing the number and duration of business critical application outages. This means less time and effort spent on problem identification, resolution and reworking. Centralised and rigorous risk-based testing should include three-way traceability between requirements, tests and defects to facilitate reduced outages and time spent on resolving them.

Following these five steps and taking advantage of a fully automated cloud environment spanning development, testing and production organisations can benefit from faster time-to-market, the elimination of production outages arising from software deployment errors and vast improvements in hardware and software license utilisation.

So just how agile are your agile developments and could the testing in the cloud make all the difference? For more information please click here.

Posted under Agile Development, Cloud Computing

The channel’s need for Open Source Sofware (OSS) strategy

 

OSS expert, IT software expert

Ed Bateman, Director Storage, Software & MOB Business EMEA

Most businesses today are looking at ways to further improve IT efficiency, to provide scalability, flexibility and to lower overall costs. As a result, I believe Open Source Software (OSS) and what it offers has never been more relevant to helping address these challenges. OSS continues to grow in prevalence and relevance, millions of mobile devices rely on the technology in one way or another without us even realising it. From standard Operating Systems (OS) to virtualization, from middleware technology to applications, the number of systems and devices using this technology continues to increase substantially. Consequently, it’s vital the channel embraces and understands OSS to best provide choice for customers.

So, what is open source?

OSS is how all software was originally developed. Software applications are built from source code but OSS generally refers to software for which the source code is freely available to the public for personal use. OSS source code can be shared with all developers for modifications, which enables programmers to build and maintain OSS technology for a faster turnaround on making improvements, increased flexibility and some may even argue: better security.

What are the key benefits?

OSS available on the market today is a collaborative, public offering which is highly interoperable with existing systems, making deployment much simpler and more cost effective. OSS offers the opportunity to increase the quality, integration and pace of software throughout an entire organisation, lowering costs and improving the flexibility of IT infrastructure.

No vendor lock-in

  • As the source code is available to all, users aren’t locked into specific vendors, developers or costly software upgrade cycles. Developed through Open Standards, OSS gives freedom of choice, more control to switch vendors and makes upgrading or scaling up/down costs much lower.

Reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

  • This is a major challenge most of today’s organisations. With no software licensing fees OSS provides a clear advantage over proprietary software as it requires less hardware power to deliver the same tasks as conventional server solutions. Companies can also stay in control of the software due to it adaptable nature, whilst keeping costs down due to this software’s low maintenance requirements.

Flexibility over proprietary systems

  • Of paramount importance in the IT infrastructure arena, OSS allows for easier migration to new hardware and offers a higher level of customisation through access to the source code.

Scalability

  • OSS is hardware independent – a feature that’s built in at design level, making OSS very scalable. This enables IT managers to meet their IT business needs for today and tomorrow, reducing overheads and helping to meet budgets.

Security

  • With the influx of private, personal and sensitive data currently being handled by organisations, security is now more important than ever before. OSS by its very nature is ‘open to all’ and since this growing ‘community’ of users regularly scan code for errors, potential security exposures are spotted early and bugs are fixed rapidly, making OSS inherently more secure.

What does this have to do with the channel?

To take advantage of the growing number of opportunities available to the channel, thanks to open source, a confident knowledge of the technology is essential. Organisations require specific expertise and skills to ensure that open source solutions are successfully implemented to make the most of what they have to offer, such as the financial gain.

By adopting an open source strategy, companies can achieve considerable cost savings in terms of reduced upfront capital investment and ongoing maintenance as the ‘open’ aspect of OSS gives users the opportunity to adjust their IT environments with ease as a response to ever changing business requirements.

Open source technology enables partners to offer high quality, highly available best-of-breed solutions to customers, thus presenting the best option for maximising the efficiency, security and cost effectiveness of computing and cloud enterprises.

Posted under IT infrastructure, IT Software