How do IT Departments ensure delivery keeps pace with unprecedented levels of demand?
I read Joe McKendrick’s article “It may be the age of cloud, but IT workloads just keep growing” (ZDNET, November 2014) with keen interest. The article draws on recent industry survey data to conclude that “development workloads are growing to the point [where] IT shops are being crushed by the demand”.
Let’s look at some of the report’s findings in more detail.
Beating the IT Backlog
First, the article explores how “output isn’t keeping pace [and] backlogs are growing”, citing a “lackluster” industry-wide IT delivery performance. The survey mentioned in the article (conducted by Mendix), is reported as stating that 89% of respondents were unable to reduce their [IT] backlog year over year. This is consistent with other industry reports, including one published by Vanson Bourne, where respondents reported an actual increase in IT backlogs of 29% within an 18 month period. IT estate complexity, accelerating business requirements, additional regulatory and compliance challenges are simply compounding the task of meeting deadlines and delivering value to the business.
Don’t Cloud the view
The promises of the Cloud appearing not to make any difference. First in defence of the Cloud the comparison (made deliberately this way I think) is nonsense. Just because you have more launch pads, it doesn’t make it any easier to build a rocket. As much as it is anything else, Cloud is a deployment platform, and fundamentally it doesn’t necessarily change the process of building, testing and delivering applications in a materially significant way.
Lacking a Cutting Edge?
Another issue reported is the tooling being used. Mendix reported many developments lacked “key elements to enable rapid, iterative and collaborative cycles”, fundamental to accelerated application delivery. Only six percent of respondents were able to deliver applications in a matter of weeks, and change requests take a month or longer in most shops. Efficiency development tooling clearly has an important part to play in effective workload delivery.
The Mendix report went on to suggest possible solutions, including implementing an application strategy, promoting and empowering development staff and modernizing the development environments.
Quite Right Too
The article touches on a number of major challenges facing the application development organization today. Where it focused specifically on newer, digital applications, the topics broadly cover appdev across a variety of technical disciplines, including core, back-end business applications. In support of business application development and delivery, Micro Focus has taken steps to support organizations looking to tackle precisely the same kinds of challenge with innovative technology:
- Backlog Management hinges on process efficiency. Collaborative, productive and efficient tools that remove hesitancy, mistakes and unnecessary delay will enable a more streamlined delivery process. Automated knowledge transfer, rapid development IDEs and flexible, scalable testing models enable core enterprise application delivery to be accelerated by up to 50%.
- Opting to adopt Cloud technology as a development or deployment platform is, for core enterprise application development, as simple as switching to another (fully compatible) environment. Micro Focus offers support and certification and a highly portable application environment, so that adopting a Cloud model is just a simple technical switchover.
- Modernizing the development process also requires a more enlightened view of tooling, to support the task at hand. Collaboration across language types, unification into an industry standard, and full control by the developer over their own workspace are just normal attributes for today’s enterprise application developer.
- An “application strategy” is supported through an automated collection and analysis process of all application artefacts, to enable key strategic questions (application value, quality metrics, cost, defect analysis, etc.) to be taken early in the cycle.
Today’s application development workload continues to challenge many organizations, and the path forward is shrouded in mist. For the core business systems, smarter technology does at least provide many of the answers facing those looking to improve their delivery velocity.