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How To Choose The Right Technology For Agile Transformation

Agile has changed how programmers work, but what do they need to do it?

12Dec

An agile way of working is about iterating constantly to find new ways to improve and deliver better quality products or services. It is as much about the culture of an organization as it is about the technology. Having the tools in place is what makes agile working possible, which is why identifying what technology your business needs for an agile transformation is essential. Read my last blog to find out how businesses can use agility t o achieve success.

There are a range of tools available to support agile working, from project management and agile development software, to cloud hosting platforms and DevOps tools. The benefit of each will depend on the needs of the business. Crucially, the business needs to have the pillars in place to support these changes. This begins with having the infrastructure to make the implementation of new technologies a smooth process.

Technology that supports agile working

As part of understanding which technology is needed to support agile working, businesses should look at their short-term (5 year) and long-term (10 year) goals. Recognizing what the business is looking to achieve – whether it be expansion into new markets or winning new customers from rivals – will help to map out the actions that need to be taken to achieve them.

As a starting point, businesses should look to the IT infrastructure that is in place. This is built up of hardware, software and network resources and services to support the IT environment. Moving towards an agile business involves virtualizing the IT environment because it provisions the fast and iterative pace of this process. For example, developers need to be focused on delivering applications and being able to move forward without having to worry about downtime, security concerns and lack of availability. As Paul Dignan discussed in his recent post, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is a solution that helps to simplify application delivery and reduce security risks such as data leakage and password fatigue. F5 integrates with several VDI vendors with an expansibility model that is flexible and powerful. This enables a more agile IT environment that is resilient within and across data centers.

Why agile is the future

A good way to look at the benefits of agile working is to consider how it is used in a process such as software development. Before agile methodologies became a well-recognized process, a more traditional method known as the ‘waterfall’ model was used in software development. This method is about working in a sequential manner, where progress is viewed as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall). The different phases include conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production/implementation and maintenance.

The waterfall approach is popular because the linear process makes it easier for teams outside of software development to understand the phases of the project. The downside is that when issues arise during the design phase, they cannot be foreseen until it is being implemented. More importantly, in today’s fast-paced environment, changes cannot be incorporated easily to the waterfall method because of the complicated change control procedures in this model. This could be damaging to businesses given the speed at which new technologies are introduced and if business goals are adjusted.

Agile software development focuses on continuous improvement, scope flexibility and delivering quality outputs. The approach is about working incrementally and iteratively. Rather than investing more time up front in planning and design, agile methodologies allow changes to requirements to be made over time. This would not be possible without cross-functional teams that include the likes of planners, developers, designers and testers to iterate the product over a period of fixed time slots.

A cloud designed for agility

According to Gartner, more than $1 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to cloud during the next five years, making it 'one of the most disruptive forces of IT spending since the early days of the digital age'.

The decision to use a public or private cloud will impact how the business invests in IT, particularly how security is managed and withheld. Public cloud providers such as AWS, Rackspace and Google are the go-to options for those that don’t want to – or don’t have the resources to – be responsible for any of the management, maintenance and updating of the data center. But can leave companies with less control of security defenses such as authentication, access management, and firewalls. On the other hand, a private cloud sits within an organization’s firewall and they have sole responsibility for its upkeep and security protection.

Neither of these options should leave organizations complacent when it comes to security. On-premises or in the cloud, data can be vulnerable to hacking without the right defenses in place. In his latest blog, Keiron Shepherd explored some of the biggest threats facing businesses today. These demonstrate that there is no room to make mistakes and not have a partner that can offer multi-layered security, whilst giving end-users and employees the same experience no matter where the data resides.

As businesses look to expand and adapt with the changing market and consumer expectations, having the pillars in place to operate an agile business is essential. The right technology is needed to support and secures the processes, whilst the culture should help individuals to understand how they can work in this way and maximise productivity from it.

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