IBM Innovate: DevOps grows up. Agile loses weight. Collaboration gets its groove back

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Last week, Tasktop had a wonderful week at IBM Innovate in Orlando. We were honored by the conference organizers who invited us to present, or co-present, in eight sessions. We were delighted to win the IBM Business Partner award for Innovation in IT Development . We’re especially proud that this was the second year in a row that we won this award. We had terrific meetings with our customers, potential customers and IBMers. 

Aside from the fact that I’m responsible for managing Tasktop’s conference presence, as a former member of the Rational team… and later as a former IBMer… going to Innovate is a bit like coming home. It was wonderful seeing how many of my former colleagues are still with Rational… and better yet, were willing to spend a little time with me to catch up.

The Tasktop Crew at Innovate

Of course we talked about the Good Old Days. But we also talked about the changes in the industry. Yes, I’m a marketing weenie… but the reason I love my job so much is that as a former developer (and engineering manager) the act of crafting software has always been, and always will be, near and dear to my heart For me, the Biggest Thing at Innovate was that DevOps has grown up.

In its original incarnation, the idea behind DevOps was that the entire software delivery process would go so much better if, instead of lobbing applications over the wall at Operations, there was some (pre-delivery) collaboration between the Development and the Operations teams. As bad as long waterfalls were, they were made worse by a discontinuity between the team building the software, and the team responsible for its care and feeding in production. Perhaps, I hoped, if the two teams collaborated right from the start, the promise of Agile would flow all the way into Operations. But, I was so very disappointed when the movement seemed to narrow down to only Continuous Delivery/Continuous Integration and the tools required to automate the delivery of code to production. Sure, that’s better than just tossing a build at Operations and hoping they can figure out what to do with it, but REALLY… what happened to the COLLABORATION between the Development and Operations teams?! Instead, Continuous Delivery seemed to be all about getting the bits into production. But unless two developers are working on the same sub-system, there isn’t all that much collaboration on the code per se.

The real collaboration is around all the development artifacts… the requirements/user stories, models, defects, plans… and no one seemed to be talking about that. Until now. Finally, DevOps in the broader sense, is coming into its own. I’m happy to report that during this Innovate, the notion of DevOps took center stage. The sessions were divided into three “streams”: · Innovation – emerging technologies · Continuous Engineering – the delivery of complex and connected products (where “products” are a combination of software and hardware), and · DevOps!! Oh sure, the words “continuous delivery” were used during the DevOps stream, but not as the sum-total of the conversation. In this incarnation of DevOps, continuous delivery is an outcome of using lean and Agile principles, of continuous planning, continuous testing and of continuous collaboration! Finally, the DevOps movement is morphing into what it could have been from the start. And speaking of morphing, over the years, Innovate itself has changed and evolved.

When I was with Rational, our user conference was called RUC (the Rational User Conference). After we were acquired by IBM, it became RSDUC (the Rational Software Development User Conference) and had about 2,500 attendees. This year there were 4,000 attendees at IBM Innovate. All along, this has been a user conference for Rational products. But next year, there is yet another evolution. IBM plans to meld several of their conferences together. We don’t know the name yet, we only know that it will be in February, in Las Vegas, with an expected attendance of 20,000. With several of their Software Group brands working together (some that concentrate on Development and some that concentrate on Operations), I’m sure there will be yet another evolution on IBM’s take on DevOps. And I’m looking forward to another terrific week.