The Beauty of Agile in the Cloud


As compared to other development methods, agile is clear, straightforward, and rewarding for all of those who are involved in the process. Most of you know this already—that’s why you’re here! Clearly, a successful transition to agile requires a strong organizational commitment and a number of management and development changes. With that in mind, the white-hot movement to this trend over the past year continues to amaze me. In striking parallel, the industry has seen this same sort of resonance around the trend to the “cloud”—secure anywhere access by distributed teams to a centralized set of services and compute resources that span the complete lifecycle of the development and deployment process.

I’d like to explain why I find this adoption to agile in the cloud so striking. When we founded CollabNet 11 years ago, we had the vision of extending the best collaborative, agile, and open source development practices and tools into the enterprise by adding the rigor and confidence that are required by distributed developers in the enterprise. Bottom line? We were way ahead of the market. For years, we found ourselves working with other industry leaders to educate the market on the business and technology benefits that distributed teams could gain by adopting open source, SOA architectures, globally outsourced resources, SaaS delivery, governance practices, virtualized test and build servers, and so on. This took time. Every discussion seemed like an educational discussion as executives were struggling to better understand the impact of these trends on their future enterprise development and deployment, and most importantly—their bottom line.

I noticed a clear demarcation in the conversations I was having with these executives about 12–18 months ago. Execs were beginning to understand what their developers had already figured out—that being able to work together in a cloud-based, highly agile, collaborative, social, and distributed way could shorten software development cycles by 2-3x while substantially cutting costs at the same time. Today, when I visit these same folks, I simply focus the discussion around “Agile development in the cloud”, and they get it immediately—developers and their execs completely understand the implications of cloud development services on the agile development lifecycle, from business requirements gathering, through to testing, builds, and deployment—while noting the costs and benefits across each of these segments. Most importantly, they really “got” the simplicity of agile, which is in fact, its beauty. To all of you that recognized and communicated these benefits early on , and fought to bring agile to the forefront, I say—“Thank you, and let’s keep driving ahead!”

Today, we find ourselves at another key transition point in the industry. Not only is industry racing to “agile development in the cloud”, but iterative development is now extending into deployment—i.e., DevOps. It’s a multi-billion industry transition that will continue to force changes in development practices worldwide. This transition raises a lot of questions—from the whiteboard to the boardroom. Agile beliefs and methods need to continue to evolve as increasingly larger distributed teams strive to collaborate and innovate across time zones and geographies. How will we scale from predominately smaller, collocated teams to more globally distributed teams using a set of agile methods and tools? What kinds of assurances will larger enterprises need to make the transition to the dev and test cloud like many SMBs and enterprise workgroups have already done? How must agile methods change over time to incorporate operational service policies, ITIL processes, and the specific technology stacks of the target cloud?

These are the kinds of questions I’d like to cover in this blog. CM Crossroads has graciously given us this space to collaborate, exchange thoughts on these topics, and drive industry through this next transition. I believe we are in the second inning of a nine inning game with a lot of questions still unanswered and solutions waiting to be discovered. I’ll be blogging again soon on many of these topics. I am looking forward to our discussions and working together during one of the most interesting and transformative times in IT in the last couple of decades. In the meantime, if you have any feedback, or ideas for other discussions, please let me know.


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