Developing Software at the Speed of the Cloud

Developing Software at the Speed of the Cloud

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Developing Software at the Speed of the Cloud

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    All the Pieces Matter

    In the television show The Wire, one of the main characters, a detective, frequently says, “All the pieces matter,” meaning that every element of police investigations—every wiretap, witness, and piece of the puzzle—is significant. All these principles matter, too. To achieve breakthroughs in your software development, you need to have all four principles in place.

    Carefully instrumented code allows cloud companies to track usage and performance in order to understand the market’s reaction to their software. The way the code is written actually brings them closer to their customers. Modular software speeds the reaction time of developers. To respond quickly to customer needs, they can release new code without waiting for the other modules to be updated. Automation accelerates development time and efficiency, permitting developers to release their code rapidly, rather than waiting for other teams to catch up.

    Collectively, usage metrics, modular software, and automation lay the groundwork for development teams to have end-to-end responsibility for their code, which improves innovation, customer responsiveness, and employee engagement.

    Traditional software teams may not need to adopt a pure cloud model. But they should try to become speedier and more innovative in their development activities.

    It’s not just talent and legacy systems, structures, and processes that are preventing companies from fully adopting a cloud development model. It is also mind-set. Teams have to be willing to break down the historical divide between development and testing and to expand the roles and responsibilities of the software engineers. They must view testing as an ongoing function, not an afterthought. They must be willing to make significant investments in training, automation, and data-
    capture-and-retrieval systems. (To see how your team measures up in cloud development activities, see the sidebar, “The Transformation Journey.”)

    The Transformation Journey

    This way of working under the cloud development model is a significant departure from tradition. The principles are straightforward, but the transformation journey is not simple. Companies must change across four dimensions.

    Principles. Communicate a focused vision to the development organization based on the principles of the cloud software-development model.

    Metrics. Set up well-defined targets and timelines to reach them. The exhibit below outlines a set of leadership metrics that can serve as a barometer of your progress toward your goals. Your performance and incentive structure needs to be consistent with these metrics. For example, as developers take on greater testing responsibility, the quality and speed of their output may decline. However, this setback will be short-lived if you have the right metrics and monitoring infrastructure in place.


    People. Redefine roles for developers, testers, and product and operations managers, and create a flatter organization structure on the basis of products and services rather than functional silos. Exhibit 3 can help you create the optimal team composition.

    Technology. Automate check-in and deployment, create loosely coupled architecture, enable code sharing across teams, and write instrumented code that facilitates real-time analysis.

    The goal of the cloud development model is to enable faster development and more powerful customer connections. By aligning your organization’s principles, metrics, people, and technology, you can change the trajectory of your business and your relationship with customers.

    A company’s success ultimately rests with its leaders. You need to challenge conventional ways of working and delegate decision making down into the organization. You need to give your best software developers a reason to be excited about going to work in the morning and staying late at night. The closer you come to adopting the cloud development model, the more success you’ll have in achieving your goal of innovation and speed.