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What do Usain Bolt, Application Innovation and Software Testing have in common? Speed and Quality

‎07-12-2012 10:13 AM - edited ‎09-18-2015 03:42 PM

Faster, faster, faster… it seems that everyone is focused on speed right now.   Come to any software development or testing conference and the focus in on speed—continuous integration, Agile delivery, shortened release cycles, continuous delivery—it would seem speed is the holy grail of software development and delivery.   Add the Olympics and the focus on world-record speed and it’s easy to lose sight of a complete picture.


Is the constant quest to deliver faster the end-game?   What state would we be in if we achieved faster delivery but failed to meet our application consumer’s expectations.  We don’t want faster delivery of software that doesn't work, is unstable, doesn’t perform or subjects us to security threats and risks.   By the same token, what does it matter if you are the fastest runner in the world if you can’t complete the race by the rules—if you constantly false start, trip before the finish line or show up to the race on the wrong day?


What’s my point?  Speed cannot trump quality.   The concern with the myopic focus on shrinking release cycles, releasing as soon as the code is “baked” in continuous fashion and shrinking down the release process so it truly is just “Dev-Ops” (with little testing or staging in between), is that we risk hidden defects, instability, security holes and eventually systemic collapse as our technical debt becomes too big to manage.  


We need to maintain a healthy tension between speed and quality.  The good news is that industry is starting to embrace this notion.   ALM solutions are bringing testing into integrated work streams so that continuous integration includes build verification testing, regression testing and test automation at its core.   Automation tools, source code management and build systems can be integrated together in an ALM workflow in such a way that developers feel empowered not governed, testers have a regular seat at the "sprint table" and code/build change immediately triggers not only a release action but testing actions to ensure readiness.   “Done is done” but done is released only when quality is ensured.


On June 5the, HP announced Application Lifecycle Management 11.5 softwarewith support for lab management automation which helps support a pre-production use case of continuous integration of automated build check-in and build verification testing.  On the same day, voke, Inc., a leading analyst firm, announced their Market Mover Array for Testing platforms and one of my favorite quotes from that announcement is as follows:


Theresa Lanowitz, founder of voke, Inc., said, “In the post-global financial crisis (GFC) environment, software and platforms continue to increase in complexity and demand, and high profile software failures are occurring at an alarming rate. Software failures now equal business failures, and as such, testing has moved from obscurity to prominence. The inextricable link of software and the brand has made business leaders aware of the need for quality software with minimal business risk.”



So Usain Bolt has high quality running shoes, doesn’t false start, shows up to the race on time and races incredibly fast... the result is pure gold.  



In the software world, faster delivery can result in business and mission success, but only if achieved with quality—functionally complete, high performing, and secure solutions delivered with speed is the end goal… dev-test-ops anyone?


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About the Author


Kelly has over 20 years experience with enterprise systems and software in individual contributor and manager roles across product management, business development and product marketing. A majority of my focus has been in areas directly related to applications spanning from developer environments, enterprise Java, integration middleware, SOA infrastructure, SOA Governance and now application lifecycle management. Kelly has a B.S. in Computer Science from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an MBA from the University of Santa Clara.

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