Agile, Smart, Unified Fabric, Transforming Legacy Approaches into Disruption

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User Expectations Are Inflating At Hyperspeed

We now live in a fast-paced, cognitive economy, and our expectations have been changed irrevocably by two undeniable shifts.

  1. Technology is evolving at an eye-watering rate, with completely new architectures and novel services for all aspects of computing being released every year,  State of the Art from only a few years ago is now a drag on speed or an in-built glass ceiling on capability.
  2. Software Production, or DevOps (Development + Operations), is accelerating. Top performers deploy at least 200 times more frequently, their deployment process is >2,555 times shorter, and they generate less than 1/3rd of the amount of rework (i.e. bugs) than average performers.1

These two shifts form a self-reinforcing feedback loop, so that they magnify each other:

  • New Technology makes Development Faster, as it work's on the latest platforms, enabling you to compose applications faster, or makes the DevOps process faster, more robust, with less rework (e.g. CI/CD technology etc.)
  • Faster Development means More New Differentiated Ways of Providing Simpler User Experiences in the Same Time, as the top performers get faster with their DevOps process, and have less rework, they produce new differentiated capabilities  more quickly

This technology feedback loop has inflated user expectations to an extraordinary level. The average user, whether staff member, business partner or consumer, expects everything they need to be available through their mobile device, with cognitive apps that make everything smarter and easier. This interaction is outlined in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. The Feedback loop between Technology Capability and DevOps Capability leads to increased User Expectations, finally leading to CEO's putting greater pressure on their internal DevOps teams to go further and faster in a never-ending spiral
Figure 1. The Feedback loop between Technology Capability and DevOps Capability leads to increased User Expectations, finally leading to CEO's putting greater pressure on their internal DevOps teams to go further and faster in a never-ending spiral

Most CIO's Feel They Cannot Keep Pace

For CIO's and software professionals, focusing on individual shifts of technology, like big data, mobile and cognitive are gone, and we can no longer use a single theme to keep abreast of the market. Instead, we must have a unified vision, integrating all of the shifts, and the inflated User Expectations presents a double-edged sword.

On the plus side, their CEO's see opportunity for increased revenue, with almost two-thirds (63%) of Australian CEO's setting revenue growth as a priority for their in-house development groups.2 If one has the right approach to technology and DevOps, one can create great advantage over competitors who do not, CIO's need to be creative.

On the negative side, almost seven out of ten (69%) of Australian CIO's also believe that a lack of talent or skills in their organisation will stop them from keeping up with the pace of change.2

Figure 2: Selected highlights from the Harvey Nash/ KPMG CIO Survey 2016, global results from 3,353 survey respondents <sup><a href="#References">2</a></sup>
Figure 2: Selected highlights from the Harvey Nash/ KPMG CIO Survey 2016, global results from 3,353 survey respondents 2

CIO's Need An Approach for Increasingly Sophisticated Demands

So, if CIO's face a constant barrage of change, with increasing levels of sophistication, which they lack the skills to surmount, plus they have a legacy. How are they to sensibly proceed?
Consider just some of the demands faced by CIO's, such as:

  • Developing Cognitive Mobile Apps that disrupt the way products/services are delivered, the effectiveness with which staff are enabled, and/or the way customers are engaged.
  • Managing, Securing and Reducing all devices, apps and contents to reduce TCO in the enterprise, including corporate phones, user provided phones, laptops, tablets and desktops
  • Developing Fast Data Analysis Services, transforming from existing high-latency, batch insights into real-time insights, and establishing a unified data service over every silo
  • Integration of all Consumer Touchpoints and all marketing services into a single, cohesive framework that also includes partners (e.g. advertising etc.), proximity services etc.
  • Integrating IoT sensors and/or Streaming Data with existing data in order to manage proactive Complex Event Processing
  • Improving DevOps practices, toolchains, the way users and staff are engaged, and altering software architecture to enable much more rapid development, with less rework

How can these demands be implemented as speedily as possible on top of any existing legacy systems in a cohesive, robust manner? What can a CIO do if they lack the internal skillsets needed to solve all of these challenges, and don't want deep engagements with consultants?

Agile, Smart, Unified Fabric - Positioning for Disruption

There is a view that a CIO can take that resolve all of these difficulties.

There are two interrelated issues to consider, firstly the tools and architectures one uses to move as quickly and cohesively as possible, and secondly the maturity and capability of the DevOps process (i.e. architecture plus production process).

With respect to the tools and architectures, starting simple with simple tools can sometimes be the worst way to start, as it can build in a glass ceiling, as additional, unforeseen requirements suddenly mean the technology platform has to be stretched beyond its use case.

What's needed is a rational methodology for developing architectures and selecting tooling, a means for any set of demands of modelling the:

  • Trade-Offs: There are many possible ways we can solve problems, to choose the best way we need to proactively identify the critical trade-offs, and choose our balance points
  • Role Sufficiency: There are many roles in the enterprise that need to be satisfied, or customers that need to be delighted for any technology play to be deemed successful
  • Development Effort: The effort and skill needed to produce the final outcome
  • Additional Benefits: Low hanging fruit that are additional to requirements, but opportunities that could be unexpectedly useful

This blog will feature regular case studies, starting first with Mobile Case Studies, where we use this rational methodology to conceptually compare and contrast the effectiveness of three different architectural approaches, to solve various sets of demands:

  1. Roll Your Own/ Open Source: Using open-source  and/or Best in Class tooling
  2. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): Using the most popular platform, plus Best in Class tooling
  3. PaaS (Platform as a Service): Using only the most sophisticated, and intricate platform

In parallel, the blog will also feature posts on increasing the agility of DevOps (e.g. DORA DevOps benchmarking service etc.).

Each of these posts will highlight a single aspect of the challenges facing that of the CIO, dealing with spiralling demands and levels of sophistication. Together, the posts will show that  a CIO can develop disruptions if they adopt agile, smart and unified thinking to form a resilient fabric, without holes.

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