Trying to Transform (Part 2): the 420 million mph rate of change

Introduction

Organizations continually have to innovate to match the marketplace-driven rate of change. Readers of the Micro Focus blogsite know that I’m continually banging this drum. The issue seems relentless. Some even refer to tsunamis. But how fast is it?

An article from a recent edition of the UK Guardian newspaper attempted to gauge what the pace of change actually is, using the tried and tested motoring analogy. Here’s a quote.

If a 1971 car had improved at the same rate as computer chips, then 2015 models would have had top speeds of about 420 million mph. Before the end of 2017 models that go twice as fast again will arrive in showrooms.” Still trying to keep up? Good luck with that.

Of course this is taking Moore’s law to a slightly dubious conclusion. However, the point holds that the clamour for change, the need for constant reinvention, innovation and improvement, that’s not letting up any time soon.

The slow need not apply

But how quickly an organisation can achieve the innovation needed to compete in the digitally-enabled marketplace may depend on the IT infrastructure. Clearly, innovation is easier for funky, smaller start-ups with no core systems or customer data to worry about to drag along with them. But the established enterprise needn’t be left in the slow lane. Indeed look at some of the astonishing advances in mainframe performance and any nagging concern that it can’t support today’s business quickly dissipates.

Meanwhile, innovation through smart software can improve speed, efficiency, collaboration, and customer engagement. With the help of the right enabling technology, mainframe and other large organizations can match external digital disruption with their brand of innovation. Because innovation isn’t any one thing, and therefore the solution must be as comprehensive as the challenge. So what’s the secret to getting the enterprise up to speed? The answer for many is digital transformation.

Digital what?

OK, Digital Transformation may be neologism rather than accepted parlance, the term is common enough that Gartner get it and it has its own wiki definition:

“Digital transformation is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society”

Our customers have told us they are trying to transform, and while they have different ideas about what digital transformation means to them, Micro Focus is very clear about what it means to us.

Digital transformation is how we help keep our mainframe and enterprise customers competitive in a digital world. It can either be tangible, like a better mobile app, a better web interface on to a core system, getting into new markets quicker, ensuring a better overall customer experience, or simply doing things better to answer the challenges posed by the digital economy.

For us, the future is a place where to keep up with change, organizations will need to change the way everything happens. And for IT, that’s Building smarter systems even faster, continuing to Operate them carefully and efficiently, while keeping the organization’s systems and data, especially the critical mainframe-based information, Secure, these are the things that matter to the CIO, not to mention the rest of the executive team.

This is the practical, business incarnation of innovation, but to us the solution is as smart as it is efficient: realizing new value from old. Squeezing extra organizational benefit through increased efficiency, agility and cost savings from the data and business logic you already own. The pace of change is accelerating, so why opt for a standing start? We suggest you use what is, quite literally, already running.

Talking Transformation

Your digital story is your own journey, but the conversation is hotting up. Hear more by joining us at an upcoming event. Taste the Micro Focus flavor of innovation at the upcoming SHARE event. Or join us at the forthcoming Micro Focus #Summit2017.

Twin peaks: #MFSummit2017

Like scaling a mountain, sometimes it makes sense to stop and see how far you have come, and what lies ahead. #MFSummit2017 is your opportunity to check progress and assess the future challenges.

We called the first #MFSummit ‘meeting the challenges of change’ and it’s been another demanding 12 months for Micro Focus customers. Maintaining, or achieving, a competitive advantage in the IT marketplace isn’t getting any easier.

The technology of two recent acquisitions, the development, DevOps and IT management gurus Serena Software and multi-platform unified archive ninjas GWAVA puts exciting, achievable innovation within reach of all our customers. These diverse portfolios are also perfectly in tune with the theme of #MFSummit2017.

Build, Operate, and Secure (BOS)

BOS is the theme of #MFSummit2017 and our overarching ethos. Micro Focus products and solutions help our customers build, operate, and secure IT systems that unite current business logic and applications with emerging technologies to meet increasingly complex business demands and cost pressures.

Delegates to #MFSummit2017 can either focus on the most relevant specialism, the possibilities the other two may offer – or sample all three. This first blog of two focuses on Build.

DevOps – realise the potential

Following keynote addresses from Micro Focus CEO Stephen Murdoch and General Manager, Andy King, Director of Enterprise Solutions Gary Evans presents The Micro Focus Approach to DevOps.

Everyone knows what DevOps is, but what does it mean for those managing enterprise applications?

Gary’s 40-minute slot looks at the potential of DevOps to dramatically increase the delivery rate of new software updates. He explains the Micro Focus approach to DevOps, how it supports Continuous Delivery – and what it means to our customers.

Interested?

Want to know more about this session, or check out the line-up for the Operate and Secure modules – the subject of our next blog? Check out the full agenda here.

Use the same page to reserve your place at #MFSummit2017, a full day of formal presentations and face-to-face sessions, overviews and deep-dive Q&As, all dedicated to helping you understand the full potential of Micro Focus solutions to resolve your business challenges.

Our stylish venue is within easy reach of at least four Tube stations and three major rail stations. Attendance and lunch are free.

If you don’t go, you’ll never know.

Cyber Monday

Big retailers have been planning ahead for up to 18 months for their share of approximately 2.6 billion dollars of revenue. Cyber Monday started in 2005 by Shop.org has become one of the biggest online traffic days of the year, Simon Puleo takes a look at the list of how some of our biggest customers have prepared.

‘Twas the night before Cyber Monday and all through the house

everyone was using touchscreens gone was the mouse.

While consumers checked their wish lists with care

in hopes that great savings soon would be there.

The children were watching screens in their beds

while visions of Pikachu danced in their heads.

And Mamma in her robe and I in my Cub’s hat

reviewed our bank accounts and decided that was that!’

Cyber Monday started in 2005 by Shop.org has become one of the biggest online traffic days of the year.  Black Friday may have started as early as 1951 and between the two shopping holidays generate over $70 BN!  Let’s take a look at the list of how some of our biggest customers have prepared:

1.)    Performance testing.  Did you know that our customers typically start performance testing for cyber-Monday in February, why would they start so early?  Customers are testing more than just peak load, they are testing that sites will render correctly across multiple configurations, bandwidths, devices, and sometimes in multiple regions of the world.  The goals of ecommerce is to enable as many shoppers as possible that includes my Dad on his iPad 2 on a rural carrier and my daughter on her Chromebook in an urban area.   Multiply that by thousands of users and you can see that unfortunately, retailers can’t hire enough of my relatives to help them out. What they do is use a combination of synthetic monitors and virtual users to simulate and assess how a website will perform when 10,000 of users are shopping at the same time.

BlackMon1

2.)    New Feature Testing.  Whether you consciously think about it or not you expect and gravitate towards websites that have the latest feature set and best user experience.  What does that mean?  Listing a photo and description is bare bones the best commerce websites not only have reviews, videos, links to social media and wish lists they may actually be responsive to your shopping habits, regional weather and personal interests.  They use big data sets to preclude what you are browsing for and offer you targeted deals too good to pass up!  While that is exciting, it also means that the complexity of code both rendering the browser and behind the scenes has grown exponentially over the years.  Ensuring that new features perform and old code works with legacy systems as well renders correctly over multiple devices is what functional and regression testing is all about.  While a team of testers may track multiple code changes they lean towards automation to ensure that code works on target configurations.

3.)    Offering Federated Access Management What? you’re thinking, user-login was solved ages ago. For sophisticated online retailers using Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, LinkedIn or other credentials to gain access is first a method to gain trust, second opens up the potential opportunity for more customers and finally a road to valuable personal data.  Regardless of which advantage a retailer may prioritize developing the ability to enable millions of Facebook users to easily login and check-out with a credit-card equates to new customers and a leg up over legacy competitors.  And, for added amount of trust and security retailers can couple multi-factor authentication at key points of the conversion process.   Simple user login and password for each shopping site is quickly becoming a relic of the past as users opt for convenience over management of many user names and passwords.

BlackMon2

These are some of the top methods and solutions that big retailers have implemented for 2016.  The best online commerce professionals know what they are up against and what is at stake for example:

  • In 2014 there were over 18,000 different Android devices on the market according to OpenSignal, that is an overwhelming amount of devices to ensure.
  • At a minimum retailers lose $5600 per minute their websites are down
  • The market is huge a recent estimate put the global amount of digital buyers at 1.6 Billion, that is nearly 1/5 of the world’s population.  Converting even .1% of that number is 160,000 users!
  • Users are fickle and will leave a website if delayed just a few seconds
  • Last year Cyber Monday accounted for $3 billion in revenue, this year we expect even more!

Retailers like Mueller in Germany realize that no “downtime” is critical to keeping both the online and virtual shelving stocked.  Their holistic approach to managing software testing and performance helps them implement new features while keeping existing systems up and running.   It is never too late to get started for this year or preparing for next, consider how Micro Focus has helped major US and European Online Retailers with performance testing, automated functional and regression testing, access management and advanced authentication.

DevOps Enterprise Summit 2016: Leading Change

Mark Levy reports back from #DOES16 in San Francisco – is this is the year that DevOps crosses the chasm? What did he find out from the experts like Gene Kim? Read on to find out the answers and more in this fascinating blog….

Last week I attended the DevOps Enterprise Summit (#DOES16) in San Francisco which brought together over 1300 IT professionals to learn and discuss with their peers the practices and patterns of high performance IT for large complex environments. One of the first things I noticed was that the overall structure of the event was different from your standard IT event.  All the sessions over the three-day event followed an “Experience Report” format. Each session was only 30 minutes in length and each speaker followed the same specific pattern, which enabled current DevOps practitioners to share what they did, what happened, and what they learned. The event also had workshops leveraging the “Lean Coffee” format where participants gathered, built an agenda, and began discussing DevOps topics that were pertinent to their particular environment.  In my opinion, these session formats made the overall conference exciting and fast paced.

Enterprise DevOps Crosses the Chasm

One question remained a focus throughout the event: “Is this the year that Enterprise DevOps crosses the chasm?” #DOES16 seems to believe so. The main theme for this year’s event was “Leading Change”. Gene Kim opened the event by highlighting results of the latest DevOps survey which found IT organizations that leveraged DevOps practices were able to deliver business value faster, with better quality, more securely, and they had more fun doing it!  With over four years of survey data, we now know that these high performers are massively out performing their peers. The focus of #DOES16 was to provide a forum where current DevOps practitioners from large IT organizations were able to share their experience with others who are just starting their journey. DevOps transformation stories from large enterprise companies such as Allstate, American Airlines, Capital One, Target, Walmart, and Nationwide proved that DevOps is not just reserved for the start-ups in Silicon Valley.

DevOps3-300x123

 

There were also several new books focused on DevOps practices launched at #DOES16.  Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Dubois, and John Willis collaborated to create the “DevOps Handbook”, and renowned DevOps thought leader and author Gary Gruver released his new book “Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise”. Both books focus on how large enterprises can gain better business outcomes by implementing DevOps practices at scale and in my opinion are must reads for DevOps practitioners as well as senior management.

DevOps stickies

 

It’s a Journey from “Aha to Ka-Ching”

DevOps is not “something you do” but a state you continuously move towards by doing other things. it’s a journey of continuous improvement. During the event, several companies highlighted that it’s a journey of experimentation, accepting failure along the way, while also incrementally improving the way they build and deliver software. There were some excellent case study presentations. For example, Heather Mickman, Sr. Director of Technology Services at Target, has presented three years in a row and showed how a grassroots, bottoms up DevOps transformation at Target has enabled the company to enlist the support of executive management. Target was able to scale software deployments from 2-3 per day in 2015 to 90 per day twelve months later.  The Target team achieved this by aligning product teams with business capabilities, removing friction points, and making everything self-service. What’s next for Target?  Take everything to the cloud.  The journey continues.

If you want to go far, go together

Leading change was the main theme of the event and was highlighted in many different ways. For example, Microsoft discussed their new vision of enabling any engineer to contribute to any product or service at Microsoft, thus leading the change to a single engineering system. Engineers follow an “engineering north star” with the objective that dev can move to another team and already know how to work. Leading change does not just focus on new innovation. DevOps is also about innovating with your “Core”.  Walmart’s mainframe team took the lead and created a Web caching service at scale that distributed teams could leverage. While both examples show how technology is being used to move forward together, there has to be a culture that supports this type of high performance. Many sessions focused on how to build a generative culture and the leadership that is required to change people and processes.

DevOpsDriveIn

Creating a culture that supports a successful DevOps transformation is such an important topic, that I have invited Gene Kim to come on our next Micro Focus DevOps Drive-in, December 1, 2016 at  9am PST to discuss the research he conducted while developing his latest book, “The DevOps Handbook”, and techniques to build a culture of continuous experimentation and learning. Hope to see you there!

Visualizing a Use Case

Have you ever put the finishing touches on your use case in a word document only to find that the visio diagram you had depicting the process flow is now out of date? If you are lucky, you have both some visual model of your functional flows along with the corresponding text to back it up – and let’s not forget about the corresponding test cases!

Have you ever put the finishing touches on your use case in a word document only to find that the visio diagram you had depicting the process flow is now out of date?  If you are lucky, you have both some visual model of your functional flows along with the corresponding text to back it up – and let’s not forget about the corresponding test cases!

In the fast paced world of software development, if you don’t have solid processes in place and have a team that follows it, you might find yourself “out of sync” on a regular basis.  The industry numbers such as “30% of all project work is considered to be rework… and 70% of that rework can be attributed to requirements (incorrect, incomplete, changing, etc.)” start to become a reality as you struggle to keep your teams in sync.

The practice of using “Use Cases” in document form through a standard template was a significant improvement in promoting reuse, consistency and best practices.  However, a written use case in document form is subject to many potential downfalls.

Let’s look at the following template, courtesy of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) St. Louis Chapter:

Skip past the cover page, table of contents, revision history,  approvals and the list of use cases (already sounds tedious right?)  Let’s look at the components of the use case template:

The core structure is based on a feature, the corresponding model (visualization) and the use case (text description).  This should be done for every core feature of your application and depending on the size of your project, this document could become quite large.

The use case itself is comprised of a header which has the use case ID, use case name, who created it and when as well as who last modified it and when.  As you can see, we haven’t even gotten to the meat of the use case and we already have a lot of implied work to maintain this document so you need to make sure you have a good document repository and a good change management process!

Here is a list of the recommended data that should be captured for each use case:

  • Actors
  • Description
  • Trigger
  • Preconditions
  • Postconditions
  • Normal flow
  • Alternative flows
  • Exceptions
  • Includes
  • Frequency of use
  • Special requirements
  • Assumptions
  • Notes and issues

The problem with doing this in textual format is that you lose the context of where you are in the process flow.  Surely there must be a better way?  By combining a visual approach with the text using the visual model as the focus, you will be able to save time by modeling only to the level of detail necessary, validate that you have covered all the possible regular and alternative flows and most importantly, you will capture key items within the context of the use case steps making it much easier to look at the entire process or individual levels of detail as needed.

If you look through the template example, you can quickly see that it is a manual process that you cannot validate without visual inspection, so it is subject to human error.  Also, it is riddled with “rework” since you have to reference previous steps in the different data field boxes to make sense of everything.

Here is a visual depiction of the example provided in the template.  I have actually broken the example into two use cases in order to minimize required testing by simply reusing the common features:

Access and Main Menu

ATM Withdraw Cash

I have added some colorful swim lanes to break the activity steps down into logic groupings. If you think the visualizations look complicated you might be right… they say a picture says a thousand words, so what you have done is taken the thousand words from the use case with all of the variations and you have put them into one visual diagram!  The good news is, it is surprisingly easy to create these diagrams and to translate all of the required data from the use case template directly into this model.  A majority of the complexities of the use case are handled automatically for you.  When it comes time for changes, you no longer have to worry about keeping your model in sync with your text details and you certainly no longer have to worry about keeping references to steps and other parts of the use case document in agreement!

In the next blog, we’ll look at how to model the “Normal flow” described in the use case template.

The rise of Dynamic Mobile Ecosystems

When you think of Mobile Applications from a testing perspective one of the first big headaches that comes to mind, is just how dynamic Mobile ecosystems are. Owners of iOS devices are well accustomed to being prompted by frequent requests from Apple to upgrade the iOS Operating System throughout their ownership of an Apple device.

When you think of Mobile Applications from a testing perspective one of the first big headaches that comes to mind, is just how dynamic Mobile ecosystems are. Owners of iOS devices are well accustomed to being prompted by frequent requests from Apple to upgrade the iOS Operating System throughout their ownership of an Apple device.

The story for the Android ecosystem is even more complex, the market has a multitude of the big technology players such as “Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony etc..” each providing their own customized OEM version of the Android Operating System and most also running a different version of the Android base operating system at any given time.

To put this into perspective the graph (taken from Wikipedia) below highlights both the pace of releases for Android Operating System releases and how this correlates with the percentage of Android versions accessing Google Play within a given timeframe. For example as of February 2016, Android 4.4 “KitKat” is the single most widely used Android version, operating on 35.5% of all Android devices accessing Google Play.

Android-Graph

What are the challenges for application vendors?

From a high level perspective the major challenge for application vendors is the need to ensure that their applications function correctly within an evolving and fragmented market place. Application vendors now have an immediate need to ensure that their deployed applications are not only compatible on specific hardware devices but also that they function correctly on the most commonly used Operating System versions for each device. Some application vendors main focus is often on ensuring that their application is compatible with the latest Operating System running on the latest shiny new device, however as the graph above highlights, the majority of Google Play customers are not running on the latest Android versions at given time.

Failure to ensure that your application is compatible and provides the same user experience across as wide a spectrum of devices and operating system versions will not only hurt your businesses reputation but will affect the company bottom line. It does not make business sense to either lock out or deploy an app which is incompatible to a significant proportion of your potential customers or market space. According to returnonbehaviour.com 96% of unhappy customers do not complain whilst even more telling, 91% of those customers will never come back.

Therefore if we take a more granular insight and have a look at the key challenges stakeholders within an organization face; we can see that whilst the main challenge of a fragmented market place remains, it becomes intertwined with additional challenges which are unique to each department within an vendors organization. We can categorize some of these challenges as follows:

QA Department:

  • More devices & more market demands typically means slower and more complicated testing cycles
  • Frequent changes and reduced project cycle times make it harder to test thoroughly
  • Device combinations and changing environment makes it difficult to integrate into a formal continuous delivery environment

Development Department:

  • More devices & more market demands typically means slower and more complicated testing cycles
  • Frequent changes and reduced project cycle times make it harder to test thoroughly
  • Device evolutions along with changing business needs make it difficult to ensure user experience

Business Analyst/Product Manager

  • Device priorities are constantly changing so decision making abilities are hindered
  • Lack of visibility across delivery and testing assets slows business agility
  • The capability of business focused stakeholders to participate in quality activities

How using Silk Mobile can overcome these challenges

Silk Mobile is the new software bundle from Micro Focus, which is specifically tailored to address the key challenges faced by application vendors in today’s fast paced Mobile environment. It does this by utilizing the sophisticated testing functional capabilities of Silk Test Mobile, with the powerful performance capabilities of Silk Performer all managed and maintained from the test management tool Silk Central.

Silk-Icons

This unique three pronged approach to testing and test management helps application vendors deliver end to end quality Mobile Applications on time and on budget by reducing the risk of customers experiencing an unsatisfactory user experience. Silk Mobile achieves this goal by delivering return of investment in three key areas:

Speeding up your testing

  • Leverage the cloud for coverage and accuracy
  • Collect and compare performance across the globe
  • Easily identify root cause of performance problems

Safeguard that your apps work anywhere

  • Quickly build cross platform/device automation tests
  • Easily document manual/exploratory testing
  • Understand and document application issues

Confirm that your apps meet customers’ expectations

  • Leverage the cloud for coverage and accuracy
  • Collect and compare performance across the globe
  • Easily identify root cause of performance problems

Each component of the Silk Mobile bundle plays a unique part in helping deliver these benefits

Silk Test Mobile provides:

  • The ability to build automated tests that can run on different browsers & different mobile applications across different operating systems, platforms and devices
  • The ability to increase test coverage faster with reusable test building blocks
  • IDE integration that enables developers to contribute to test automation

Silk Performer provides:

  • Ability to simulate users performance experience across multiple device/network bandwidth combinations
  • Ability to easily collect and compare transaction’s performance across different geographical locations
  • Ability to identify the root cause of application performance problems through powerful, end-to-end diagnostics capabilities
  • Ability to Leverage the cloud to reduce the cost and increase the accuracy of your performance testing

Silk Central provides:

  • Support for the full test lifecycle, from requirements to test execution over to resulting and issue tracking
  • The capability to business focused stakeholders to easily create and reuse automation assets via Keyword Driven Tests
  • The ability to quickly understand and document application issues across devices and platforms
  • The ability to easily document manual testing execution through screen shots, videos and status report on every step in any device

Silk Mobile utilizes the technology of each of software component in conjunction to offer a bundled testing solution that is greater than the sum of all its parts. This unified testing approach for Mobile Applications will significantly help improve “time to market“ and ensure that your application can withstand the rigours of an increasingly fragmented and rapidly evolving market place.

John

Take it Easy with Atlas 3.0

Atlas, our Agile requirements and delivery platform, has cool new features and Frank thinks you should hear about them. Needless to say, it reminds him of The Eagles.

Frank has been standing up for devs long enough to know that delivering complex IT projects can be heavy lifting.

It’s the complexity of pulling stuff together. Uniting guys in different siloes. Keeping everyone in the loop in a way they all understand. As usual, 1970s country rock can teach us a lesson from history. Take the Eagles’ recording of the Long Run album. Frank’s legendary freeform cassette stacking system reckons it was their last studio album for decades – and it’s not surprising.

According to producer Bill Szymczyk – Frank never loses a game of rock Scrabble, thanks to Bill – the band was so fragmented that they were phoning in their contributions from all over the States. Glen Frey – RIP, man – worked from LA while the rest of the band were in Miami. The result wasn’t great. And happened next? Acrimony. Lawsuits. Beverly Hills Cop soundtracks. And no-one wants that. So, thank the Lord for Atlas.

Third versions things aren’t always great. Waiting for the Sun had one single worth hearing. Jaws 3 had us all cheering for the shark. Atlas 3.0 is different.

Woah! What’s Atlas anyway?

Atlas is our Agile requirements solution. It unites key people in a beautiful oneness. Technical and operations teams get together with business analysts on a platform that captures market trends and innovative stakeholder ideas. It’s like getting the Airplane, Jimi and Janis in one place.

Atlas-Collaboration

So. Atlas 3.0. Tell us more.

Atlas 3.0 now integrates with Silk Central. With this powerful test management platform in your locker, strategically planning testing suites, defining test cases and executing quality management just got easier.

Atlas-3-Screenshot

Atlas and Silk Central integrations keep testing efforts aligned with customer requirements. Transparency and control are your new friends. Users view test activity and results in every requirement area. Integration ensures test teams can view – and test tools stay in sync with – defined requirements as they evolve.

Atlas 3.0: Frank’s list of good stuff

  • Review and evaluate the results of evolving business needs: See how requirement versions have changed over the life of the project. Changing course isn’t something you do at the end.
  • Assess potential impact of new requirements: Every picture tells a story. Use Atlas to create the diagrams that identify the interdependencies. It means smarter decisions – and more realistic schedules – around new requirements.
  • Improve collaboration between business and development teams: Communicate and exchange ideas and concepts as application requirements develop. It’s kind of the opposite of late-period Eagles.
  • Assess Agile team progress in the context of customer expectations: Is development time aligned with defined requirements? Get a clear picture with Atlas 3.0.
  • Show related test count and status by requirement. Understand how test execution has changed over time, providing visibility to incremental test progress.
  • View the test status as Gantt charts. Assess test progress across all requirements.
  • Step into the Atlas Time Machine. Better understand the impact of changes in requirements and evaluate project status, to see how test status has changed between two points in time.
  • Version comparison: Compare differences between two versions of requirements, or list the items that have changed since the last access.

You want this

Well, if you are a customer on maintenance it’s already yours, my friend. Rock up to supportline.microfocus.com. Say Frank sent you.

Living in Non-Maintenance Palookaville? Fret not. You get to see how Atlas lightens the load by helping you gather, define, plan and track the agile delivery of your business needs, initiatives and related requirements. Try now. For Free.

Frank out.

Frank Profile

Brand new year – same old problems?

For technology trend-watchers, the New Year has begun in much the same way old one ended.

As the reports of Black Friday and Cyber Monday-prompted site crashes tail off, predictions about upcoming technology trends kick in, and early 2016 looks much like late 2015. So will last year’s failures help us meet new challenges? Let’s take a look…

Peering into my crystal ball, I see virtual reality headsets, Artificial Intelligence, and driverless vehicles leading the charge of new technology into the commercial stream. The headsets are already on Amazon.

Back in the real world, CIOs are pushing ‘must refine digital strategies’ further up the agenda. It’s a long to-do list. Cloud, big data – and the analytics needed to extract anything useful from it – the ‘move to mobile’, online security, virtualisation, hybrid architectures, containers are just seven.

Other organisations will be trying to adapt to new methodologies, such as Agile and DevOps. Meanwhile, everyone wants to be the first to market with their innovations in digital services, even while cutting costs.

Cutting through the hype, three key organisational goals will remain:

  • Maintaining and protecting brand quality
  • Accelerating time to market, either proactively or reactively
  • Improving the user experience – and creating happy customers

Market movers and shakers

Some start-ups will fly – others will stall – while challenger banks continue to invade the finance space. Retailers will focus more on digital channels, next-gen consoles and virtual reality will fuel the gaming explosion. This means five things for CIOs:

  • The nature and ease of access to this technology will take us places we have never been before – and be even more disruptive than ever.
  • Organisations not keeping up with market trends risk being left behind
  • Bringing unreliable products or services to market risks damaging brand reputation
  • Teams must deliver what the business needs, faster than ever
  • Focusing on delivering what the customer demands and not what the IT departments think the customer wants is key

So how can organisations deal with this three-pronged attack? Using better tools to work smarter will certainly help.

Under attack? Get tooled up

Micro Focus solutions can help fix these issues by enabling them to embrace DevOps, boost business agility and reduce time to market. Any one of these elements protects brand reputation. All of them together will certainly enhance it.

Atlas is an Agile requirements solution. It unites technical and operations teams with business analysts on a platform that captures market trends and innovative stakeholder ideas. This joined-up working means organisations can quickly realise the impact of changes on the product in development, enabling Agile teams to get the right product to the business quicker than ever.

Silk is a platform-neutral automated testing suite that tests application functionality, responsiveness, user experience and performance. Whether deploying on multiple mobile devices and browsers, in the Cloud or on desktops, Silk enables test runs to be managed automatically. With full visibility across the testing and development lifecycle, errors are reduced and teams test earlier in the lifecycle and embrace the DevOps ethos.

So, if this is the year that your organisation gets on the front foot and stays ahead of the curve then give your teams the means to be strategic and not reactive. If this is to be the age of AI and next-gen tech, selling products that drives customers to throw themselves in front of the nearest driverless vehicle seems like last year’s thinking.

Whether this is to be a happy New Year or twelve months of challenges is entirely in your hands.

Crawford

The Force Awakens – the web performance testing farce continues

In a Galaxy far too close to home, Frank Borland has donned his Alec Guinness Jedi cape and fired up the Millennium Falcon of Best Web Performance Practice. People are just not learning their lessons and Frank ain’t happy.

Farce-Continues-FB-(1)

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

Now, it takes a lot to get Frank excited; maybe a new Creedence album, a BOGOF on red neckerchiefs at JC Penny – something pretty damn huge, anyway. But, any developer who has ever worn the uniform – insert ponytail/sandals/generic Sci-Fi movie T-shirt gag here – knows that a pretty darn special film is out this week. It’s been years in the making and has been promoted to a Galaxy far far away and back.

That’s right, folks. Because just as the Ridiculous 6 simultaneously hits the streets and the bargain bins, the season’s blockbuster, Alvin and the Chipmunks – the Road Chip gets ready to do its thing. Just kidding you – Frank knows full well that Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is due, to, er, awaken. With force.

While the news has even reached Frank’s Testing Nerve Centre in my secret West Coast location, the news still caught UK cinemas with their metaphorical pants down when they tried and failed to sell advance tickets. That’s right, guys and gals – the very organisations who planned to make oodles of boodle from these screenings didn’t properly prepare for them. It’s like General Motors being caught out by the invention of roads. Not too likely, huh?

Looking through my well-thumbed copy of Talking Star Wars for Dummies – no dev should be without one – Frank’s eye spots a good quote. “Every so often there’s a great disturbance in The Force as thousands of voices cry out”. This time round it’s legions of dudes – let’s be honest, most of them are dudes – yelling at their laptops as the website they were using to not buy tickets for the Force Awakens crashed like Biggs Darklighter’s X-Wing in the final Death Star trench run.

But these organisations weren’t tipped into the edge into oblivion by a sneaky Sith Lord Vader TIE fighter attack. No sirree. These online commerce teams knew the onslaught was coming. And they did squat about it.

“Test. Or Test not. There is no try.”

The link between well-publicised events and website crashes is nothing new, right? Major eCommerce sites know you’re coming to visit – dammit, they spend thousands of bucks on ads that drive you to the site. But again and again and again inadequate performance testing casts them into a Sarlacc pit of doom.

Hit Google. Check out all the negative headlines. Read your Twitter feed – see all the bad vibes heading towards these companies. That reputation is going to take more rebuilding that the Death Star – and it’s just as difficult. Think of all the potential bounty that took-off faster than Boba Fett did when his back-pack took a lucky shot from Han’s trusty blaster. And it ain’t coming back.

Apparently some folks still think it is better to risk losing millions than drop a few bucks on world class performance testing software and a QA regime. Their customers disagree.

What a wonderful smell you’ve discovered

The Battle of Hoth begins on Social Media when the ordure of corporate misjudgement hits the fan of public opinion. The brave Rebel Alliance forces manning the Twitter and Facebook outposts are left to fight an unnecessary battle against impossible odds. A brave few will win a skirmish or two in full knowledge that it’s all slipping out of their control. People – it doesn’t have to be this way.

Somebody has to save our skins

That’s where Silk WebMeter, Silk Performer and our world class performance testing products come in folks. If you’re a developer, you won’t need me to remind you Obi-Wan’s wise words, “in my experience there’s no such thing as luck”. And who am I to argue with the Big Guy? So prepare your site for the next epic struggle against the hordes – or ‘customers’, as I call ‘em. Hit our Trials page, fire up your trusty, non-clumsy or random performance testing weapon of choice and May the Force Be With You!

Frank out.

Frank Profile

Cyber Fun Days!

How can online retailers ensure virtual shopping carts will continue to be filled now that Black Friday has kicked off the seasonal shopping season? New writer Lenore Adam talks about ways to prevent website bottlenecks and guarantee a positive and consistent user experience.

As my colleague Derek Britton recently noted in his blog, Cyber Sunday is the latest extension of the traditional Thanksgiving retail feeding frenzy (pardon the pun, I struggle with any reminder of having eaten too much this past week…). U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart, along with several other major retailers, pulled their Cyber Monday promotions into Sunday in a bid to capture increased online demand.

For consumers, it is less of a trend and more of a way of life. Ubiquitous use of smart phones with fast internet has helped blur the lines between what were traditionally distinct retail and online shopping days. Economists estimate that digital shopping will rise by ‘11.7 percent this year, lifting the overall proportion of online sales to 14.7 percent of total retail activity, or $1 out of every $7’ that consumers spend this season. Despite these indicators, major retailers were caught unprepared for the volume of online shopping this year, promoting products that consumers were unable to order due to website overload.

Ensure a Positive User Experience

Even after the holiday rush, online retailers are still vulnerable to unpredictable demand. Will another polar vortex increase climate commerce and drive an unexpected wave of consumers to your site? Will those newly implemented e-commerce delivery options stress back-end systems and reduce peak performance? Are you ready for this season’s variety & volume of access devices, browsers, and geographically dispersed access points? Online retail success demands a positive user experience for a customer base accustomed to web page response times ticked off in milliseconds.

The mantra for brick and mortar retailers is often location, location, location. With online retailers it’s more like test, test, test. This is where Silk Performer and Cloudburst come in. Borland products help prevent our customers – who include some of the biggest names in online retailing – from becoming another online casualty. Archie Roboostoff, Director of Product Management, explains how Silk is used not only for website performance testing, but also for testing responsive web design. For example, use Silk to test…

‘…across different configurations of browsers to outline where things can be tuned…For example, Silk can determine that your application runs 15% slower on Firefox than Chrome on Android. Adjusting the stylesheets or javascript may be all that is required to performance tune your application. Testing for responsive web design is crucial to keeping user experience sentiments high…’

When ‘a 100 millisecond delay… equates to a 1% drop in revenue’, online performance clearly is business critical. With the competition just a click away, don’t lose customers due to poor site performance. Keep them on your site, happily filling up their shopping carts. Try Silk Performer here.

Lenore

After the Goldrush

How can online retailers keep the tills keep ringing now Thanksgiving is over? Chris Livesey talks about easy ways to prevent website wobbles.

cyberweek-(1)

As my colleague Derek Britton recently noted in his blog, Cyber Sunday is the latest extension of the traditional – at least in contemporary terms – Thanksgiving retail feeding frenzy. Wal-Mart has decided to further test their website’s resilience to heavy digital footfall by a further 24 hours.

Similarly, the UK-based technology store Carphone Warehouse brought forward their Black Friday event by 24 hours and joined Amazon and Argos in offering deals that run from November 23 until December 2 inclusive.

Whether it is out of consideration for the consumer or just another dead-eyed strategy to squeeze more pre-Christmas cash out of consumers, the line between the end of one sales event and the commencement of another is increasingly blurred. And it is less of a trend and more of a way of life. UK shoppers spent more than £718.7m online every week throughout 2014, an 11.8% increase on the previous year.

The Reiss Effect

So what happens after the seasonal rush? Everything goes back to normal, right? Well, maybe not. Online retailers are still vulnerable to The Reiss Effect. This happens when a company isn’t prepared for, well, the unexpected and loses out as a result.

In this case, Kate Middleton being pictured wearing a Reiss dress had unforeseen – and unfortunate – consequences for the manufacturer. The website crashed. Reiss were unable to take advantage of their good fortune. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity passed them by. Unable to process orders from new or established customers, they lost revenue and became a ‘thing’.

Websites are the virtual shopfronts for retailers and manufacturers and, just like shops, can quickly become overwhelmed if not battle-ready. Unexpected opportunities can quickly become unwanted headaches. The same Social Media platforms that plug your product can quickly damage your brand.

We are not bemused

Underestimating the potential popularity of your offering can be just as damaging is just another form of unpreparedness. The website for Dismaland, the pop-up art project set up by British graffiti artist Banksy recently crashed, leaving thousands of would-be visitors unable to purchase tickets. But as the creative theme of this ‘bemusement park’ attraction was disappointment, this may well have been the intention.

So the key to online retail success for Black Friday, Cyber Sunday, ‘Gratuitous Spending Wednesday’ and beyond is to road-test your website for any eventuality. It’s easier than you think. As the CMO for Micro Focus Borland I am proud that we help prevent our customers – who include some of the biggest names in online retailing – becoming another ‘thing’.

It’s easy with Silk Performer and Cloudburst. This is stress-free, stress testing for websites and applications. With it, users have Cloud-based scalability and access to unlimited virtual users as they like. Without it, they may not detect the errors that can turn go-live into dead-in-the-water day. Try it here.

But even the best tool can’t prepare an organization for everything. Sorry, US Airlines, but if a opossum is going to chew through the power cable, you’re on your own.

Chris