Agile Cloud indicates the next IT model change

Remarkable developments in the IT sector have created a vibrant business environment worldwide. Improvements in areas such as virtualization and consolidation have propelled the IT growth rate to unprecedented levels. However, in order to make the most of these favorable IT advances, human progress is vital to create a win-win situation for both consumers and producers. Cloud computing can be very effective in achieving this common goal by reducing the complexity of the IT mechanism. When used properly, it can create a shared environment and help any business organization, small or large, save time and space.

Benefits of cloud computing in business

“Cloud computing is a better way to running a business” – this is how SalesForce.com, one of the most well-known providers of cloud services, described the emerging IT trend. It might sound like a slimy sales pitch to you if you don’t heed the “Say No to Software” icon on SalesForce’s website.

In short, cloud computing is an opportunity for companies to run applications from a common information center. It gives companies an advantage over those using conventional software development methods like Oracle and Microsoft, which have too many processes like installs, tests and failovers. Cloud computing, on the other hand, is fast and effective. Here are some of the key benefits of cloud computing.

  • It requires no software or hardware (other than access to a browser)

  • It follows a simple process that allows for faster integration with various business solutions

  • This enables fast operation and reduces the chance of failover

  • It creates a flexible IT environment where solutions can be easily tailored to the specific needs of each business

  • It helps in achieving maximum utilization of resources

With all these benefits, cloud computing is becoming more and more accepted by organizations around the world. In fact, some companies are scaling back their IT infrastructure to keep up with cloud computing attitudes, SalesForce.com reports.

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The Lean Agile approach

Lean and Agile are two important production techniques that are widely used in companies. The lean approach emerged from Toyota’s production methodology after World War II. It is a biological process that mainly focuses on:

  • Produce only what is needed

  • Removing irrelevant things that don’t add value

  • Stop production if something is wrong

The agile approach has contributed exponentially to developments in the software industry. In this process, software is built in parts and individually tested before moving on. The purpose of this method is to build an immediate feedback loop between the creators and the users. However, since 2008, the use of the Lean method has become more extensive than the Agile method. As a result, a new trend emerged that combines both methods. The need for this merger increased mainly due to certain disadvantages of agile methods. The agile method skips any discussion about the process of organizing the stability of software between different business units. The lean process can be very helpful in this regard. It breaks development tasks into smaller streams so that the output of one stream can produce the next value stream. Therefore, this combination enables a more process-oriented approach to software development; resulting in better results.

The waterfall approach

The waterfall approach has been very effective for developing software since its introduction in 1970. The procedure is a combination of different steps. The first stage is to understand the customer’s requirements. In order to be successful in this phase, it is important to communicate with customers. In the next step, ideas are designed and implemented. This is followed by an evaluation process. The phenomenal success of the waterfall method is due to the following benefits it has to offer:

  • Potential changes can be easily identified

  • Development can also be facilitated in a large team

  • The budget can be booked out easily because the process clearly defines phases

  • The linear approach saves time and energy

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Because of its impeccable track record, the waterfall method was able to outperform other methods of its day, including the incremental and spiral approaches. However, the method also has some pitfalls. The effects of these disadvantages can even hamper the growth of the software industry. His name itself is a symbol of his greatest shortcoming. Similar to when the water crosses the ledge, it cannot retreat, likewise a mistake missed in a stage cannot be corrected.

Agility in the cloud computing environment

There are many similarities in Agile and cloud services approaches to application development. The cloud approach is well known for providing end-to-end services in application development. Likewise, the agile method focuses on the requirements of the end users. To achieve this goal, the agile method breaks down the task into small parts. This facilitates the detailed orientation. The planning, development and testing of each segment is done individually, which helps to eliminate bottlenecks in the process and maintain high quality standards. Additionally, the Agile process focuses on building a mutually beneficial environment for developers and end users. This creates sufficient leeway in each phase to obtain and implement feedback and make necessary changes.

Integrating Agile and Cloud can create a highly interactive environment for both developers and users. Once the developers start using the cloud service, the users can immediately review it and provide feedback on the process. Therefore, phases such as patch installations and deployments can be eliminated, ultimately helping to save the organization’s time and energy. One of the leading providers of IT consulting and technology outsourcing services, Capgemini, conducted a survey in 2010 to measure industry trends regarding the incorporation of agile processes into cloud computing.

This study was conducted by CapGemini in collaboration with HP on approximately 30,000 quality assurance managers, cloud professionals, engineers and IT managers employed at leading companies in Asia, North America and Europe. According to the study, up to 60% of the organizations that took part in the survey are likely to integrate agile methods as part of operations for upcoming cloud projects and services. Some key benefits of integrating Agile with cloud computing are:

  • Improving the quality of applications

  • Maximum utilization of available resources

  • Shorter time to market

  • cheaper

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Jonathan Rende, vice president and general manager, Business Technology Optimization Applications, Software and Solutions, HP, says, “IT vendors are under intense pressure to develop new applications that deliver competitive advantages, deliver greater efficiencies, and deliver measurable results.”

Agile and cloud computing integration: the best of both worlds

Cloud computing has become a buzzword in the software industry. The immense benefits of cloud technology have even forced Microsoft to invest heavily in enterprise cloud solutions. However, combining cloud computing with the Agile methodology can be even more rewarding and help get the best of both worlds. When hiring a cloud computing expert for your company, it is necessary to inquire about their Agile process expertise as well. Knowledge of Agile is very important to achieve optimal results in application development.

As the founder and CEO of Cyrus Innovation (an agile consulting firm), Bruce Eckfeldt, noted, “the greatest strength of the agile methodology is that it is self-adapting”. For this reason, having someone on board who is familiar with both cloud and agile methodologies can be a great boon for any organization. Cloud technology is experiencing a dynamic paradigm shift and cloud technology is gradually becoming more demand-oriented.

It’s time for application developers in the barcode, mobility and point-of-sale space to adopt these new approaches to application development if they intend to remain relevant in the future.

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