Digital Innovation Factory (2/3): How to reshape your software development activities at the era of cloud-native application?

by Neil Anderson - Sopra Steria UK - Chief Technology Officer
| minute read

Whatever is the Enterprise Platform strategy, spanning from improving the customer experience, increasing the business revenues and efficiency, reducing the costs,… Software supporting e-commerce platform, call center, supply chain, analytics / BI, and digital workspace activities had more than ever to demonstrate their agility, speed, availability, security and scalability during these last months. To achieve these objectives, successful software product approach position the features are at the heart of attention. They drive the organization from a monolithic vision of software towards a much more flexible vision. It also leverages game-changing technologies such as AI, ML, IoT, Blockchain, low-code/no code, API, RPA across the software portfolio.

As shared by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation in the State of Cloud Native Development Q4-2019, 60% of backend developers use containers in their work. Relying on cloud-native technologies, defining as modern applications packaged in containers, deployed as micro-services, running on elastic infrastructure, and managed through agile DevSecOps processes fits very well with large enterprise who very often encompass a wide variety of software technologies.

“Adaptive software as usual” looks for its Digital Innovation Factory

Building a strong Digital Innovation Factory able to manufacture this “adaptive software as usual” is then a mandatory exercise for the Enterprise Platform. This new Digital Innovation Factory must first support the broader vision, facilitating fast builds and regular releases, using cloud solutions as a backbone, allowing a strong integration with the existing heritage systems and offering the level of flexibility for supporting the evolving conditions and compliance.

To respond to these challenges, the Digital Innovation Factory must provision automated self-service models, serving the new multidisciplinary community - Business, Development, Security and Operations - adopting BizDevSecOps principles. From a tool perspective, this practices requires to bring the business needs into live software through an entire DevSecOps Software Factory.

DevSecOps Software Factory

Build a complete DevSecOps Software Factory with a full-fledge toolchain including test automation supporting the velocity of development which enables quick user feedback is then a cornerstone. This factory will then automate all the regular activities such as continuous integration, continuous deployment, and continuous testing as well security compliance checks. This approach will boost the enterprise platform in the creation and the reuse of services, exposed through API to its internal and external ecosystem. Those API will then be published using a proper API Management layer to complete appropriately the level of security and control. From a practices perspective, the fail fast principles as a standard must also be embraced to fit with user feedback.

To be economically viable, this Software Factory must be centralized, and governed through a clearly defined policy. This overall approach will then allow a holistic view which can be consolidated through dashboard including both the major feature-oriented KPIs and quality, productivity and security ones.

BizDevSecOps teams’ behavioral shift

These platform and methodology changes will also involve a new BizDevSecOps teams’ behavioral shift. Exploring new best-in-class user experience metrics such as daily active users, number of sessions, number of subscription, retention or churn rate will focus all the BizDevSecOps teams on what brings in fine value to business… not just operational or technology drivers. Obviously, Service Level Objectives (SLOs) or Service Level Indicators (SLIs) such as end user requirements met, application development time, performance objectives, time to resolution, number of bugs/issues during roll out will carry on supporting the DevSecOps activities. Initial change management cadenced by traditional ITIL Change Advisory Board (CAB) should also shift-left to more user feedback. This evolution will then free up CAB’s time to focus on more strategic and transformational business activities.

Spearheading these changes first involves to source or train the right development skills. The Software Craftmanshift principles provide here a solid foundation for DevSecOps Teams. These resources will also need to dive into emerging patterns such as feature flipping, A/B testing, blue/green deployments, canary deployments, chaos monkey sustained by failure by design architecture. This last pattern is especially necessary in a heavily regulated industries where resilience is mandatory, such as banking, energy, telecommunications or defense.

Such a plan… but it worth it. Compressing the traditional development and operation processes (involving hundreds of meetings for pre-design, objective definition, roadmap follow-up and yearly releases) into initiative experimentation, adaptive refinement and constant live production or go-to-market triggering user feedback will definitively help to save time and improve quality.

By focusing on collaboration, automation powered by the software factory, all the Enterprise Platform will be able to develop quickly the new expected Software, and release it at the speed of the business… An essential key for keeping the Enterprise Platform innovative and competitive in this new normal.

Digital-first company

AWS Cloud

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