Eating your own dog food: Agile Requirements at Micro Focus using Atlas

Atlas is Micro Focus’ Agile requirements management tool. With an intuitive user interface, Atlas enables users to gather concepts, define requirements and collaborate with a minimal learning curve. Innovative tracking allows stakeholders to see at a glance how requirements are progressing based on live data from delivery tools such as Micro Focus Agile, Rally and VersionOne.

Throughout 2016 Micro Focus development teams have been using Atlas to deliver better software faster. In this blog Ed Benton looks at how using Atlas has benefited its users and Atlas support and development team too.

So what is Atlas?

Micro Focus Development teams have been using the Atlas Planning and Tracking Suite to more effectively gather, define, discuss, plan and track their Software Development requirements. Atlas has empowered teams working on Enterprise software such as Reflection, InfoConnect Desktop and RM/COBOL to work more effectively and deliver better software faster that meets customers’ business requirements.

Business analysts use Atlas to quickly define well written requirements, with a user interface that “just works” and doesn’t take time to figure out. Managers use Atlas to plan releases effortlessly with team capacity management and a built in discussion feature to gather the feedback of other stakeholders. Integration with Silk Central enables development managers and other stakeholders to review test results directly within Atlas. Decision makers have access to the live and accurate data they need all within one elegant and intuitive user interface.

atlas

How does Atlas help?

Requirements are sent directly to developers’ preferred delivery tools. Developers update their backlogs in Micro Focus StarTeam Agile, Rally and VersionOne and the updated progress is reflected instantly in Atlas. Product Managers are able to review delivery status in Atlas based on live data from Agile delivery tools without needing to learn or obtain access to the delivery tool itself. These innovations and more have helped teams at Micro Focus deliver better software faster.

As Phillip Miller,  Director of COBOL Development puts it:

‘In an environment where multiple development teams are often involved in delivering complex features the evolution of a high level idea into a requirement that’s understood and agreed by multiple teams has always been challenging. Atlas, with its whiteboards, versioning and discussion features, has allowed us to radically improve our approach to requirements capture and analysis.

Being able to more effectively collate, discuss, track, version and collectively review the evolution of an idea into a requirement in a single tool has provided benefit to managers and developers alike.’

Phillip Miller Director of Development (COBOL)

Phillip Miller Director
of Development (COBOL)

Supporting internal customers benefits our external customers

Our internal Atlas instance is a cross-functional project supported by technical employees from Support, Quality Assurance, Project Management and all levels of development. The Atlas team meet regularly to discuss how to best support the 500 active users across Micro Focus. Issues and enhancements are researched, discussed, tested and implemented by an Agile DevOps team. This keeps us highly responsive to the needs identified by our highly engaged user base. Real user feedback from real AppDev work is being used to continually improve Atlas. Agile teams within Micro Focus working on Reflection, InfoConnect Desktop and RM/COBOL have been using Atlas to gather and define requirements, discuss and plan their releases and track their delivery. They rely on Atlas in this effort and their feedback enables us to enhance all areas of Atlas, resulting in a greatly improved “battle hardened” product for our customers.

As Director of Atlas Development Mark Kulak puts it:

‘Atlas internal usage has been invaluable for the Engineering and Product Management teams. As more users come online, we have gathered an appreciation for how diverse our user community really is.

Feedback from many teams using different planning and tracking processes has been invaluable to rounding out Atlas usability and features. While internal feedback aligns with external customer requests, the level of openness and ability to quickly iterate when dealing with internal teams makes a significant difference. It allows us to ask probing questions and work together to identify solutions.’

Mark Kulak Director of Development (Atlas)
Mark Kulak Director
of Development (Atlas)

Putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes

Supporting a large, geographically distributed Atlas user base has given us first hand experience of how Atlas sysadmins spend their day and the challenges they face. This has lead to multiple refinements in Atlas which make it as easy to administrate as it is to use. At Micro Focus support we’re constantly in contact with our customers. This helps us develop a deep understanding of our customers goals and challenges and also a high level awareness of how they use our products to work more effectively.

Working as an Atlas systems administrator for our internal users has helped me develop a greater understanding of the needs of our customers, particularly the systems administrators who manage Atlas instances. This helps us support external customers more effectively anticipating their needs as we work with the product in the exact same way.

Everything we learn from supporting the internal Atlas server is used by development to make Atlas more effective, intuitive and robust for all users, from the sysadmins managing the instance to the management stakeholders looking for high quality progress overviews. I’ve seen lessons learned from internal Atlas usage drive real improvements in the product for our customers.

All of this feedback has been built into the new Atlas 4.0 release – please find out what’s new on the website and take a trial to see how good it is for yourself!

Benton

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Benton

Senior Support Engineer (Atlas & StarTeam / Hub)

Continuously secure and manage your open source components

WhiteSource Software, the leader in continuous open source security and compliance management, presented and demonstrated a deep integration with Dimensions CM allowing teams to secure and manage use of open source components at the recent Micro Focus DevOps Interchange in Chicago. Ashley Owen explains more…..

DevOpsXchangeChic

During the Micro Focus DevOps Interchange 2016 conference this week, WhiteSource, the leader in continuous open source security and compliance management, presented and demonstrated a deep integration with Dimensions CM allowing teams to secure and manage use of open source components.  This partnership makes the WhiteSource open source security and license compliance solution available to users of Serena Dimensions CM 14.3.2 in November.

business-operations

WhiteSource integrates directly into the Dimensions CM Continuous Inspection toolchain, enabling rapid feedback on open source security and license compliance risks for business critical custom applications within the Application development and delivery lifecycle. The invocation of the WhiteSource service is performed seamlessly and the results are available within Dimensions CM Pulse UI.

WhiteSource’s integration gives users the ability to find and fix open source components with security vulnerabilities, severe software bugs or compliance issues related to licensing. These features are seamlessly integrated for Serena users, allowing a safer, better use of open source components in their software while simultaneously increasing productivity. No longer will teams collaborating on projects have to manually track open source usage, or speculate whether they are using vulnerable components.

 

Ashely

 

 

Ashley Owen

Product Managers Unite!

Agile methodologies, DevOps practices and dedicated tools have improved collaboration, efficiency, and time to market for development teams. But the needs of product managers are often overlooked. Lenore Adam investigates Atlas in her first Micro Focus blog post, enjoy!

With dev, test, and biz teams, that is.  Thanks to a Micro Focus Atlas, product managers can now be at one with dev, test, and business teams.

Agile methodologies, DevOps practices and dedicated tools have improved collaboration, efficiency, and time to market for development teams. But the needs of product managers are often overlooked.

Capturing evolving customer needs and understanding the impact of these changes on schedules, resources, and budgets are what product managers do.  PMs are the voice of the customer for engineering, and the financial and business analyst for the executive committee.  But to do the job properly they need information in real time for insightful analysis.

  •  How will a new customer requirement impact the release cycle?
  • Which requirements caused the project timeline to slip?
  • How much development time was spent on a specific requirement?

This need for knowledge has driven the development of Micro Focus Atlas requirements management software. Let’s put Atlas to the test with a couple scenarios.

Your customers demand a new requirement. Development asks ‘exactly how badly do you need this?’

Product managers often have to evaluate trade-offs, like whether a new feature is worth a schedule delay.  They rely on data to support recommendations, but without good data, sound judgment is compromised.  One of my mentors used to chant ‘the data will show you the way’.  But how?

To begin with, you need your finger on the pulse of current activity.  Atlas creates a bi-directional link with DevOps and Agile tooling.  Customer requirements created in Atlas are sent to the Agile backlog, establishing a direct connection between customer requirements and the dispersed stories and tasks needed to execute that requirement. Automatic status updates of these activities are centralized back into Atlas and available for PMs. No black box of engineering activity, no need to interrupt busy engineering managers for updates.  Setting up the sync is pretty straightforward as these YouTube postings prove:

Syncing Atlas & Rally

Syncing Atlas & JIRA

Syncing TFS & Atlas

Now, with an eye on the future, use this data within the Atlas environment to develop a what-if planning scenario to evaluate options.  What would be the expected schedule impact if a new feature was included in the release?  Does the potential increase in revenue offset the expected schedule delay?  Linking engineering activities to customer requirements gives projects teams the tools needed to make better decisions.

atlas

So why did the schedule slip?

The execs promised the sales teams and customers a timely delivery. So what went wrong?  Feature creep?  Did specific features take significantly longer to execute than planned?

Use the Atlas Time Machine feature to clarify cause and effect.  Explain why the original estimate was so far off with historical tracking that summarizes which stories were added, removed, or updated and how this impacted schedule over time.

Leverage the data in Atlas for your project post mortem to make the next project even better.  Atlas project baselining is where the team hits ‘rewind’ to uncover the original project definition and scope. The version control identifies each change, the person who made it and any associated discussions for context.  For the multi-disciplinary team, this is an opportunity for an informed discussion and objective review after the whirlwind of development and release.

The hands-on executive – ‘hey, remember what happened the last time you did that?’ 

What happens when an executive bypasses the decision-making process?  Suddenly, a requirement ‘proposal’ becomes a new requirement, end of story.  True confession: we often padded our schedules and budgets with a line item affectionately labeled ‘friends of execs’ to factor in these unpredictable yet inevitable curve balls.

The trick is to view the schedule before and after the unplanned insertion in a previous project.  Was there a schedule slip – and if so, how bad was it?  Even understand the breadth of impact by using the Atlas Relationship Diagram to trace downstream requirements that may also have been impacted.

And here’s the killer data point you need to save the project from unhelpful top-floor intervention:  How much development time was chewed up by the requirement?  That said, Atlas just records the facts. You’ll need to draw on all your expert diplomacy skills to present them. Try ‘Just sayin’…’

Micro Focus Application Delivery and Testing   

Accelerated delivery.  Continuous quality.

Make Atlas your resource for uniting business, development, and test teams. And it doesn’t cost a cent to get started. Access a free cloud-based trial of Atlas 3.0 and start.

Schlaflos vor dem Bildschirm – der Super-Sportsommer 2016 biegt auf die Zielgrade ein!

Am 5. August ertönt der Startschuss für das nächste Großereignis des Sportsommers – die Olympischen Sommerspiele 2016. Die Vorfreude bei allen Sportbegeisterten ist riesengroß, denn bei mehr als 340 Stunden live Übertragungen im Fernsehen und über 1.000 Stunden Live-Streams in Web, stellt sich nicht mehr die Frage, ob und was man schauen möchte, sondern vielmehr wie, wo und mit welchem Endgerät. Des einen Freud, des anderen Leid …. denn gerade die Vielfalt an Endgeräten, die rasant steigende Nachfrage von Livestream-Angeboten und die Browservielfalt stellt die Entwickler vor immer größere Herausforderungen. Georg Rechberger gewährt Einblicke, wie man frühzeitig Leistungs- und Funktionsprobleme aufdeckt und eine zuverlässige Perfomrance von Apps erzielen kann.

2016 ist ein absolutes Highlight für alle Sportfans, denn die Großereignisse geben sich quasi die Klinke in die Hand. Kaum sind mit der UEFA EURO 2016 und der Copa America die beiden großen Fussball-Turniere nördlich und südlich des Äquators Geschichte, die neuen Champions des Rasentennis in Wimbledon gefunden und der Sieger der Tour de France kürzlich erst auf der Avenue des Champs-Élysées gekürt, beginnt mit den olympischen Spielen von Rio nun der absolute Höhepunkt des Sportsommers. Am Freitag wird das olympische Feuer im Maracanã Stadion entzündet und in den nächsten 16 Tagen lautet das Motto nicht nur für die Sportler „Dabei sein ist alles“. Mit mehr als 340 Stunden live Übertragungen im Fernsehen und über 1.000 Stunden Video-Live-Streams im Internet stellt sich für die Zuschauer nicht mehr die Frage,  ob und was man schauen möchte, sondern vielmehr wie, wo und mit welchem Endgerät. Alleine die beiden Platzhirsche ARD und ZDF bieten auf ihren Webportalen sportschau.de und sport.zdf.de täglich von 14.00 – 05:00 Uhr morgens sechs verschiedene Live-Streams an und darüber hinaus noch 60 Clips täglich, die als on-Demand Paket das Internet Programm abrunden.

Diese immense Investition der öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender in Live-Streaming- und in Video-on-Demand-Angebote ist auf den allgemeinen Trend zurückzuführen, dass Konsumenten ihr Nutzerverhalten in den letzten Jahren vor allem dank neuer Technologien wie Smartphones und Tablets grundlegend geändert haben. Waren es bei Olympia 2012 in London bereits 25 % der Konsumenten, die die Spiele im Netz statt auf linearem Übertragungsweg verfolgten, so werden es diesmal sicherlich noch weitaus mehr sein. Nicht nur bei Sportevents ist der Trend zu  Mobile Streaming erkennbar:  der The Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI) prognostiziert , dass der durch Video verursachte Datenmengenverbrauch innerhalb der nächsten 5 Jahre um 825 % steigen wird. Für die Entwickler solcher Streaming- und Video-on-Demand Anwendungen stellt sich damit nicht nur die Frage, wie diese immens steigenden Datenmengen an den Kunden ausgeliefert werden, sondern auch, wie man für eine immer gleichbleibend hohe Qualität bei der Video-Wiedergabe sorgen kann, und zwar unabhängig davon, ob der Konsument den Live-Stream im Park auf seinem Smartphone, oder auf dem Heimweg in der Straßenbahn auf seinem Tablet oder zuhause vor seinem 50 Zoll 4k Fernseher sitzend verfolgt. Eines ist dabei klar: Qualitätseinbußen, insbesondere solche, wie eine Verzögerung bei der Übertragung, werden seitens der Konsumenten nicht geduldet.

riode1

Denken wir doch jetzt nur einmal an das 100-Meter Finale der Herren in Rio, der wohl prestigeträchtigsten Entscheidung in Brasilien. Usain Bolt und seine Konkurrenten stehen in den Startblöcken und warten auf den Startschuss und just in diesem Moment erscheint auf unserem Bildschirm das Buffering  Symbol, oder eine „Video ist nicht verfügbar“ Notiz oder das Video springt ständig auf Pause – nicht auszudenken, welche Reaktionen ein solcher Vorfall auf Twitter, Facebook oder den anderen sozialen Netzwerken auslösen würde. Neben Spot und Häme in den sozialen Netzwerken müsste der Videostreaming Anbieter im schlimmsten Fall auch noch mit finanziellen Einbußen bei seinen Werbepartnern rechnen, denn wer möchte schon, dass seine Werbung ruckelt und stockend oder überhaupt nicht übertragen wird. Der Nutzer erwartet die gleiche Performance, die er seitens der herkömmlichen Fernsehübertragung gewohnt ist – eine Verzögerung von mehr als einer Minute wird nicht toleriert –  ansonsten wird eine andere Quelle für die Berichterstattung gewählt und der Anbieter läuft Gefahr, seine Abonnements und Werbeinnahmen zu verlieren.
Der Schlüssel für die unterbrechungsfreie Ausführung liegt vor allem in sogenannten Lasttest und in effektiven Leistungsmessungen mit Workloads, die das echte Benutzerverhalten replizieren. Lasttests sind ein wesentlicher Bestandteil des Software-Entwicklungsprozesses. Anwendungen müssen auch bei Nachfragespitzen für Tausende, wenn nicht sogar Hunderttausende verfügbar bleiben und die versprochene Leistung erbringen. Micro Focus bietet mit Silk Performer ein Produkt an, mit dem man bei der derzeit führenden Videostreaming Technologie HLS (HTTP Live Streaming), aussagefähige Last- und Performance Tests durchführen kann. Das Aufzeichnen von Skripten ist hierbei sehr einfach und bei der Testausführung gibt es verschiedene Qualitätsmetriken, die Ihnen zum Beispiel sagen, wie viele Segmente der Streaming Client in verschiedenen Auflösungen heruntergeladen hat. So kann man feststellen, wann mehr Segmente mit niedriger Auflösung geladen wurde, weil die Bandbreite zu gering oder die Infrastruktur nicht der Lage war, gleichzeitig eine hohe Anzahl an hochauflösenden Streams bereitzustellen. Man sieht, wie lange es dauerte das erste Segment herunterzuladen und man kann das Verhältnis zwischen der Dauer der Downloadzeit und der Abspielzeit genau analysieren. Kurzum gesagt, diese Qualitätsmessungen helfen dabei, die Nutzererfahrung in Bezug auf Downloadzeiten, dem Verhältnis von „download-to-play“ Zeiten und dem Live-Streaming  deutlich zu verbessern. Mit den Performancetest-Lösungen von Micro Focus können Sie das echte Benutzerverhalten  geräte-, netzwerk- und standortübergreifend präzise simulieren. Durch die Bereitstellung dieser Lösungen als cloudbasierten Service zur Leistungsmessung kann man  kosteneffektiv sicherstellen, dass geschäftskritische Anwendungen Spitzenlasten bewältigen und wie erwartet von allen Benutzern weltweit auf allen Geräten ausgeführt werden können.

Fazit:

Wenn Kunden schlechte Erfahrungen machen – egal ob mit einer Webseite, einer App oder einem Videostreaming Dienst, werden sie kaum zurückkehren oder Ihre Angebote nutzen. Das Testen auf Performance, Skalierbarkeit und Zuverlässigkeit ist daher von entscheidender Bedeutung. Der Anspruch der Kunden verändert das herkömmliche Verständnis von „Qualität“. Unternehmen können sich inkonsistente Benutzererfahrungen und langsame Reaktionszeiten einfach nicht mehr leisten. Die Tools von Micro Focus decken Funktions- und Leistungsprobleme auf, vermeiden somit Prestige- und Umsatzverluste und helfen dabei, eine zuverlässige Performance von Apps und die Funktionsfähigkeit globaler Websites zu erzielen.

 

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

It is ‘game on’ for VOD and live stream suppliers

The latest summer of sport is almost upon us. Jonny Crawford, EMEA International Inside Sales Manager for Micro Focus, reflects on its implications for our customers – and reveals a winning offer to help them hit their goals…

I’ve been watching sport since I was a boy and pretty much every year calls itself the ‘summer of sport’. But this year is unquestionably a big one. Football tournaments both North and South of the equator, the Rio Olympics, the tennis at Wimbledon, Test Cricket, golfing majors – it’s all out there.

But things have moved on since my youth. These days the question isn’t so much what to watch, but how to watch it.

Mobile devices, live streaming and video on demand (VOD) are on the rise and the trend is likely to increase over the next 18-24 months – mobile video traffic alone is set to grow 825% over the next five years.

This year’s summer of sport will see more ‘spikes’ than the running track in Rio. The developers supporting these streaming and VOD applications must cope with the additional traffic all this coverage represents as well as a higher demand for a seamless streaming experience, whether the medium is a handheld device on the commute to work, sitting in the park or at home in front of their 50”, 4k television.

VOD

Developers must ensure these streaming applications deliver what the customers demand, or risk losing subscription fees. Advertisers, also, expect to see their products displayed to best effect. After all, there is plenty of competition out there. But it’s not easy.

Not many people watching ITV HD during the 2010 World Cup recall Steven Gerrard’s goal for England against the USA. That’s because they didn’t see it. The lesson for broadcasters and developers is that people remember what you got wrong a lot longer than what you did well.

The proliferation of platforms – mobile devices, tablets, desktop, internet TV – are all new opportunities for us punters to watch our preferred sport. But they are also just another headache as far as developers and testers and – anyone responsible for setting up these applications and keeping the running while the pressure’s on – are concerned.

Imagine a repeat of the Gerrard Incident. Supposing Harry Kane, Gareth Bale, Robbie Keane or Will Grigg nails a stunning volley while we’re all watching the buffering symbol, a ‘video not available’ notice or an everlasting ‘timeout’ icon. Imagine the language, the feedback on social media – and the impact on the revenue streams of the business offering the VOD or streaming service.

The winning combination

It doesn’t have to be this way. Micro Focus Silk has the perfect team to ensure the summer of sport streams stay up long after the sun goes down.

Switched-on content suppliers use Silk Performer to load and performance test exciting new stuff, such as http live streaming. They get metrics to gauge stream quality that significantly improves the user experience of download times, download-to-play ratios and the live streaming experience. They know they can handle all the loads that the summer of sport will throw at them and address performance issues before a ball is kicked, thrown or hit with something. Singtel already use this platform- and browser-neutral product to underpin their VOIP packages.

So, imagine yourself as a manager. Instead of a team, you are responsible for successfully deploying a streaming application. What’s the best way to get the peak performance from your star asset?

Silk Central: A unified platform to design, plan, execute and track all your functional and performance testing practices across every device and platform.

Silk Test Mobile: Build functional test automation that runs reliably across platforms and devices.

Silk Performer: Performance and load testing automation that represents your users across the globe on their devices, platforms and networks.

So for a glitch-free summer of sport then get in touch with me and we’ll talk tactics and formations. Better make it soon, though, as there is a lot of sport for me to watch over the next few weeks!

JC

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Crawford

EMEA International Inside Sales Manager

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

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