Welcome to Agile Cloud Development, the newest series in the Virtualization Practice that brings analysis to the methods and tools at the intersection of agile development and cloud computing. We believe together these are the future of software delivery for global organizations of all sizes in all industries, especially those wanting to increase business agility, reduce costs and ultimately improve their customer’s experience.

In this series introduction we’ll cover what is Agile Cloud Development, why it’s important and how it’s unique.

What is Agile Cloud Development?

Agile Cloud Development

First, let’s cover the basics. The term agile is an umbrella term for a set of related methods with four common principles as defined in the agile manifesto. It’s been a formal movement since 2001 and since then has transformed the way software is developed and delivered. Faster time to market, higher quality, improved productivity and happier teams are some of the common benefits agile organizations enjoy. The Standish Group in 2011 stated, “The agile process is the universal remedy for software development project failure”.

For these and many other reasons we believe agile is the future for how most all software will be created and delivered to customers. The most popular agile methods include Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) but there are others. With respect to this series, we’ll cover the aspects of agile development that integrate with cloud computing.

In addition to agile, within this series we’ll also include newer methods based on Lean principles in particular Kanban, which is enjoying success in not only software delivery but also IT operations. Kanban’s focus on continuous flow and limited work-in-progress is a natural fit for organizations doing continuous delivery – a capability that’s built on virtualization and cloud computing.

Also within this series we’ll explore DevOps and the growing community of methods and tools for bridging the gap between agile development teams and (typically not agile) IT operations teams. Many of these tools integrate with virtualized and cloud environments and help the IT operations teams be as agile as their development counterparts.

So the integration of all these concepts will form the basis for articles in Agile Cloud Development.

Why is it important?

Organizations that leverage agile and cloud have enormous competitive advantages over their competitors with respect to higher quality, faster market responsiveness and greater business agility. This ranges from large global enterprises to Lean Startups – a new movement that wouldn’t exist without the capabilities of agile and the cloud.

Since 2001, agile has gradually become the norm for most software product organizations due to its flexibility and rapid time-to-market. It is also gradually replacing waterfall projects in many larger corporations, a fact not lost on the Project Management Institute (PMI) who recently rolled out agile certification and are updating their classic PMBOK™ text to include agile practices. Even PMI is going agile!

Since 2006, cloud computing has also grown dramatically, becoming a $41 billion industry by 2011 with estimates of up to $241 billion by 2020. Whatever the eventual size, there’s broad consensus that cloud computing is going to be a large part of the growth in the tech industry.

For these factors and many more, we think Agile Cloud Development is an important topic for global organizations of all shapes and sizes today and into the future.

How is it unique?

The topics at the intersection of agile development and cloud computing are unique for a few reasons:

  1. Cloud is an Agile Accelerator – Cloud computing, when combined with agile engineering and DevOps practices, enables faster release cycles of higher quality code. This shrinks the time it takes to get an idea from concept to running in production and directly…
  2. Enables Business Agility – Organizations leveraging agile and the cloud can quickly test these new ideas in the marketplace, gather feedback and adjust course based on customer demand. They can do this in days and weeks, not months and years. Leveraging the cloud keeps initial investments in hardware low and allows organizations to invest more as the ROI improves. Organizations that do this very well can translate faster cycle time and higher quality into…
  3. Reducing IT Costs – Through agile process improvements and cloud-based SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, bringing an idea from concept to production costs less. Cloud-based tools for management, development, testing and monitoring are bringing ever-greater capabilities to organizations for lower costs, improving the bottom line. While important, reducing IT costs are secondary to…
  4. Improving Customer Experiences – Today this is being recognized as one of the most important drivers of revenue and long-term business success. The ability for organizations to engage their customers in meaningful experiences, not simply ship more features or become more efficient, is the future for organizations large and small. Examples include Amazon and Zappos, Starbucks and Apple. This is also on the radar of VMWare’s CEO who is seeing a shift to customer experience in the market.
  5. Growing the Economy – The so-called new new economy is one of the driving forces behind global economic growth. Small start-ups are leveraging the cloud and agile development to not only compete with large corporations in traditional markets but create new markets too. From Google to Twitter, Netflix to Groupon, today’s startups want to grow their businesses quickly and do it with less up-front investment – a perfect recipe for agile development and cloud computing.

What will be covered in this series?

Analysis in the series will generally have one of these themes:

  • Emerging Trends and Topics
  • Top Vendors and Tools
  • Practical How-To Articles and Case Studies

In keeping with the virtualization practice standard, in the coming months we will create a whitepaper that describes the Agile Cloud Development market and vendors that serve the market.

Summary

We believe Agile Cloud Development is the future of software development for global organizations of all shapes and sizes in all industries. For those seeking improved business agility, lower costs and ultimately better customer experiences – the Agile Cloud Development series is designed for you.

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Ryan Shriver (9 Posts)

Ryan Shriver is a Managing Consultant with Dominion Digital, an award-winning process and technology-consulting firm. Based in Richmond, VA he leads their Innovative Products solution that helps people deliver the right products at the right time, quickly with high quality. With services related to experience, value, speed and quality, he helps clients holistically focus on improving their customer's experience.

Working with Internet technologies since 1995 and practicing Agile since 2001, Ryan has deep experience in systems architecture and large-scale agile product development. He's presented internationally on topics including Scaling Agile, Measurable Business Value and Agile Engineering. He's founder and program chair of Innovate Virginia and posts is thoughts, articles and conference presentations to the agile engineer.

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